Friday, October 5, 2018

TransYouth project founder receives a MacArthur "genius grant"

Dr. Kristina Olson
Dr. Kristina Olson is one of the nation's leading experts on transgender youth.
Image credit: University of Washington
Dr. Kristina Olson is now a winner of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship. She will receive a grant in the amount of $625,000 with no strings attached. How the grant will be utilized is entirely up to Dr. Olson. MacArthur fellowships are commonly referred to as a “genius grant.”

Dr. Olson, with University of Washington, started the TransYouth project in 2013 and has recruited over 300 children as participants. In April Dr. Olson was named the winner of the National Science Federation's Alan T. Waterman Award. It is the government's highest honor for scientists still in the early phases of their careers. The award comes with a $1 million grant which Olson will use to continue her study of transgender children.

One of Olson's more important studies deals with desistence rates of trans kids. Essentially she has concluded that once gender dysphoria is severe enough for the child to transition, they almost never desist.

Last September Dr. Olson wrote a fascinating piece for Scientific American: “When Sex and Gender Collide — Studies of transgender kids are revealing fascinating insights about gender in the brain.”

In addition to recognizing Dr. Olson's achievements, this significant grant validates the importance of studying transgender youth. In a sense it validates these kids as well.

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