The behavioral treatment of a “transsexual” preadolescent boy
- Cite this article as:
- Rekers, G.A., Lovaas, O.I. & Low, B. J Abnorm Child Psychol (1974) 2: 99. doi:10.1007/BF00919093
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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.