Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Gender clinic and single-item questionnaire-based data report increased co-occurrence of gender diversity and neurodevelopmental conditions. The nuances of these associations are under-studied. We used a transdiagnostic approach, combining categorical and dimensional characterization of neurodiversity, to further the understanding of its associations with gender diversity in identity and expression in children. METHODS: Data from 291 children (Autism N = 104, ADHD N = 104, Autism + ADHD N = 17, neurotypical N = 66) aged 4-12 years enrolled in the Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Network were analyzed. Gender diversity was measured multi-dimensionally using a well-validated parent-report instrument, the Gender Identity Questionnaire for Children (GIQC). We used gamma regression models to determine the significant correlates of gender diversity among age, puberty, sex-assigned-at-birth, categorical neurodevelopmental diagnoses, and dimensional neurodivergent traits (using the Social Communication Questionnaire and the Strengths and Weaknesses of ADHD Symptoms and Normal Behavior Rating Scales). Internalizing and externalizing problems were included as covariates. RESULTS: Neither a categorical diagnosis of autism nor ADHD significantly correlated with current GIQC-derived scores. Instead, higher early-childhood dimensional autistic social-communication traits correlated with higher current overall gender incongruence (as defined by GIQC-14 score). This correlation was potentially moderated by sex-assigned-at-birth: greater early-childhood autistic social-communication traits were associated with higher current overall gender incongruence in assigned-males-at-birth, but not assigned-females-at-birth. For fine-grained gender diversity domains, greater autistic restricted-repetitive behavior traits were associated with greater diversity in gender identity across sexes-assigned-at-birth; greater autistic social-communication traits were associated with lower stereotypical male expression across sexes-assigned-at-birth. CONCLUSIONS: Dimensional autistic traits, rather than ADHD traits or categorical neurodevelopmental diagnoses, were associated with gender diversity domains across neurodivergent and neurotypical children. The association between early-childhood autistic social-communication traits and overall current gender diversity was most evident in assigned-males-at-birth. Nuanced interrelationships between neurodivergence and gender diversity should be better understood to clarify developmental links and to offer tailored support for neurodivergent and gender-diverse populations.

Original publication




Journal article


J Child Psychol Psychiatry

Publication Date



Gender diversity, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, neurodevelopmental conditions, neurodivergence, transdiagnostic