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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Gender Confusion in our Kids

I am blogging all week about the best questions I receive from parents, faculty, coaches and employers…about students today. It’s always a great dialogue. Here is another below:


Question: It seems like I am running into more and more tweens and teens who say they plan to experiment not only with sex, but with genders. They are not sure which gender they prefer to marry or to engage in sexual activity. It’s a bit frightening—how do I counsel my kid? I don’t want to sound judgmental, but I wonder if this is just a fad today where kids are exploring new things. What do you think?

Answer: This issue is coming up more and more today. Let me begin by saying I am not a psychologist; I am a leadership trainer for the next generation. And, I am just one voice. However, with this in mind, let me respond.

To be honest, I believe some teens are simply playing into the cultural norm to “experiment” with sexual partners. However, there are other factors that aid this sexual confusion.

For instance, for several years now, scientists have known about chemicals, like BPA, that are in our plastics and our water. When BPA enters the human body, it mimics estrogen, the female hormone. This is impacting both girls and boys in Generation iY, born since 1990.  Girls are moving into puberty faster than ever before, as early as eight years old, instead of twelve or thirteen. And boys are seeing a drop in testosterone levels in their body. According to Dr. Leonard Sax, M.D. and PhD in Psychology, boy’s testosterone levels are half of what they were in their grandparent’s day.

I wonder if part of the reason for kid’s sexual confusion is the chemicals they’ve ingested. BPA will obviously affect kids differently, based on their natural levels of estrogen and testosterone. But culture and home environment (on the outside) as well as chemicals inside of them can impact their perspective and sex drive.

Consequently, we must handle this experimentation with grace and mercy. Keep talking about the issue with these tweens and teens. We believe what’s key to their sense of identity is to help them identify their God-given gifts and play to them. This actually builds strong self-esteem. In response, perhaps some of the inward need to experiment with their identity can be reduced if many of their emotional needs are met through the affirmation that comes through employing their gifts and strengths. This seemingly unrelated issued may lead to healthy choices. It’s just a thought. Remember, I am no psychologist. Just a leadership trainer for the next generation.

What do you think? How do you respond when you see students struggle with this issue? Leave a comment.





Learn more about the challenges facing Generation iY.


  1. Michael on March 6, 2013 at 7:35 am

    I can appreciate a multitude of factors involving these issues, but I would add one that is a bit off the common path: an unhealthy spirit that is morphing into the genetics of humanity to corrupt.

    • Tim Elmore on April 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      Interesting thought, Michael. Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

  2. Marla on March 6, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Don’t know about the chemical side of it, but I do believe the highly sensualized culture students are coming of age in has a large role to play in such experimentation. Growing numbers of young women are addicted to pornography, same sex relationships are romanticized in media, everywhere students look there is something sensual to arouse them, boys announce their man crush via twitter and girls likewise with their girl crushes, so the walls come down on boundaries that were stronger for previous generations.

    • Tim Elmore on April 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      I agree, Marla. Student environments are changing, yet innate desire for identity remains. It’s up to us to affirm our students’ talents and gifts.

  3. Bill on March 9, 2013 at 10:41 am

    There is nothing new under the sun. While some details explaining the current tweens and teens generation may be unique the powerful factors that move the human heart are the same for all ages now and forever. All humans are born with the same deep longings, especially the longing for intimacy without shame. If those longings are not met in the safe, loving design of God confusion and pain will reign.

  4. Bryanne Weaver Smith on July 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I have Asperger Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. I was born in 1983, but not diagnosed until 2002. I have experienced a lot of gender dysphoria in my life, and I believe its partly due to my disorder (I’m female, by the way). I have talked to hundreds of adult females on the spectrum via various online support groups, and I can only think of 5 or 6 who haven’t experienced gender confusion in their lives. Things that are feminine do not interest me, and I do not want to bear children. Sometimes I feel like a guy trapped in a girl’s body, and I have wondered if my life would have been better had I been a guy. I’ve done some reading, and from my research I have found that gender confusion is common with Asperger Syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders. Since we are not bound by social norms, we are more likely to experiment with different things. I personally don’t like gender and feel its limiting. Yes, physically I can appreciate that I am female, but I don’t like all that’s attached to that label. I think women should be allowed to do what they want and men should be allowed to do what they want (gender wise).

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Gender Confusion in our Kids