It is important to remember that children explore their gender identity throughout their upbringing. If a child identifies as transgender, meaning the opposite binary to their sex-at-birth assignment, then the best way to prevent harm is to support that child where they are at.
Children’s rights are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, even children as young as 4 years old. The UN has also declared universal/global rights to transgender children, youth and adults. The image below outlines Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is a great summary of what children (and all people) need to be able to grow and develop. When a child’s gender is denied, criticized or punished all levels of needs are affected but most impacted is safety (security of the body). All children need to be taken care of in regard to their basic needs, provided with emotional, physical safety, and have a sense of love, belonging and acceptance in order to gain esteem and self-actualization as they grow up. When these needs are denied based on the child’s gender identity, they can develop adverse maladjustments such as emotion dysregulation, self-harm, low self-esteem, academic issues, and physical and emotional developmental delays.