Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 99–116 | Cite as

The behavioral treatment of a “transsexual” preadolescent boy

  • George A. Rekers
  • O. Ivar Lovaas
  • Benson Low


Behavioral treatment procedures were developed to suppress feminine sex-typed behaviors and to increase masculine sex-typed behaviors in an 8-year-old boy with “childhood cross-gender identity.” The boy's clinical history paralleled the retrospective reports of adult transsexuals, including (1) feminine voice inflection and predominantly feminine content in speech, (2) verbal self-reference as “sissy” and “fag” and statements about his preference to be a girl, (3) feminine hand and arm gestures and “swishy” gait, (4) an aversion to masculine play activities, (5) a strong preference for girl playmates and taking a feminine role in play and role-playing, and (6) improvised cross-dressing. With a multiple-baseline intrasubject design across stimulus environments and across behaviors, the subject was treated sequentially in the clinic, at home, and in the school. The boy's mother was trained to administer a token economy program in the home, and the school teacher was taught to apply a response-cost procedure in the classroom. The initial treatment effects were found to be largely response specific and stimulus specific, necessitating treatment for a number of behaviors in the three major environments. Followup data 12 months after treatment termination suggest that the boy's sex-typed behaviors have become essentially normalized. This treatment holds promise for correcting pathological gender identity development in boys and for relieving the associated emotional adjustment problems.


Behavioral Treatment Gender Identity Identity Development Adjustment Problem Emotional Adjustment 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • George A. Rekers
    • 1
  • O. Ivar Lovaas
    • 1
  • Benson Low
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos Angeles

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