A recent study revealed that 2.7 % of over 80,000 high school students in Minnesota identify as a gender other than the one assigned at birth (Pediatrics, 2017). In recent years, clinics everywhere that support transgender and gender variant children and youth are reporting an exponential growth in the numbers of new cases. Virtually all institutions dedicated to children and youth are faced with the challenge of welcoming and integrating gender diverse children and youth and deconstructing established paradigms regarding gender identity and expression. In a field plagued with controversy, certain approaches are emerging as best practices; the “gender affirmative model” proposes a new paradigm that views gender exploration and gender diversity not as a manifestation of confusion or psychopathology but as a healthy expression of the diversity of human experiences. As it has been shown that parents’ attitude and support have the greatest impact on their child’s well-being (Ryan et al., 2009; Travers et al., 2012; Veale et al., 2015), this workshop will focus on ways to intervene with parents struggling to understand their child’s needs as well as their own. We will look at the history underpinning our current notions regarding gender and gender identity development. We will also explore the intersections of gender diversity and neurodiversity, particularly the overlap of the autism spectrum with the gender spectrum, presenting the most recent research findings in this area as well as therapeutic guidelines for working with gender diverse autistic children, youth, and their families.
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