Are Gender Non-Conforming Toys Harming Our Children?

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Beginning in 2015, corporate America’s war on gender expanded to children’s toys. Target announced it would remove references to gender in its children’s toy aisles, including the use of pink, blue, yellow, and green wallpaper on the back walls of its shelves.[1] The Disney Store eliminated girl and boy designations from its Halloween costumes and switched to generic tags on lunch boxes, backpacks, and other accessories.[2] And Amazon removed gender selections from its search bar filter.[3]

In 2017 a Kickstarter campaign was begun for a nesting doll named Sam that was described as “the world’s first educational transgender toy.”[4] “Made up of a series of stacking dolls, each layer of the toy represents a stage of gender questioning and exploring.”[5]

Also in 2017, the Tonner Doll Company introduced the world’s first transgender doll modeled after Jazz Jennings—a trans girl who gained notoriety when “she” appeared in an episode of ABC’s 20/20 that focused on transgender children and their families.[6] The Tonner Doll Company specializes in adult collectibles and high fashion dolls, but it marketed the Jazz Jennings doll to children instead of as an adult collectible.[7]

Last week, one of the world’s largest toy companies introduced the world’s first gender-inclusive doll line called Creatable World. Mattel—the company best known for its highly sexualized Barbie doll line—is endeavoring to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity with androgynous dolls featuring interchangeable hair and apparel. “Trans and gender-fluid kids said they felt they could see themselves in the doll,” according to Monica Dreger who is Mattel’s Vice President of Global Consumer Insights, “while cisgender kids told researchers the doll reminded them of their friends.”[8]

Could it be that by championing and celebrating gender nonconformity even among children’s dolls, we are creating gender confusion where it may not otherwise exist? Increasingly, gender lines of distinction are being blurred, and although reliable data is limited, there is reason to believe that the increased awareness and acceptance of gender issues is resulting in an increased number of children who are confused about their sexuality.[9] A 2015 Telegraph article titled “Rise in Child Transgender Referrals” reports, “The number of children aged 10 or under who have been referred to the NHS because of transgender feelings has more than quadrupled in five years, according to new figures. … A spokesman said: ‘It is probably fair to say that young people are increasingly interested in exploring gender.’”[10] According to a BBC article titled “Child Gender Identity Referrals Show Huge Rise in Six Years,” “The Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) said 969 under-18s have been referred in the UK in 2015-16, including nearly 200 aged 12 or under. This compares to just 94 in 2009-2010.”[11]

And a 2018 Brown University study by Lisa Littman focused on the increasing number of parents reporting in online forums that their teenage children seem to have suddenly and surprisingly developed a high level of gender confusion. Her findings note that social media and peer groups that include gender dysphoric and transgender-identified individuals seem to be encouraging teenagers to develop something she calls rapid onset gender dysphoria.[12]

Additionally, the American College of Pediatricians has released a statement declaring its belief that gender ideology harms children.[13] As gender confusion becomes increasingly accepted and promoted within society, children are more likely to become confused and to embrace a lifestyle that is harmful to their health and well-being. According to the American College of Pediatricians’ statement:

Conditioning children into believing that a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse. Endorsing gender discordance as normal via public education and legal policies will confuse children and parents, leading more children to present to “gender clinics” where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs. This, in turn, virtually ensures that they will “choose” a lifetime of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic cross-sex hormones, and likely consider unnecessary surgical mutilation of their healthy body parts as young adults. (emphasis removed)[14]


This rise in sexual confusion is concerning because sexual confusion makes one vulnerable to sexual immorality. The Bible repeatedly condemns sexual immorality as sinful behavior (Matt. 15:19; Gal. 5:19) in contradiction to God’s will (1 Thess. 4:13) which results in judgment (Jude 1:7; Rev. 2:20–22). The Christian is told to flee from sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 6:18, to put to death this carnal impulse in Colossians 3:5, and to refuse to indulge in sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 10:8. The Bible clearly identifies sexual immorality as harmful behavior which is offensive to our creator God; therefore, we must guard against anything that encourages or makes one vulnerable to such immorality—such as gender non-conforming toys.

To learn more about transgenderism from a Christian perspective, read Timothy Zebell’s book, Transitioning: A Biblical Understanding of Transgenderism

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. “What’s in Store: Moving away from Gender-Based Signs.” A Bullseye View, August 7, 2015.

2. Tabuchi, Hiroko. “Sweeping Away Gender-Specific Toys and Labels.” Business. New York Times, October 27, 2015.

3. Bologna, Caroline. “Amazon Removes ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ from Toy Categories.” Life. Huffington Post, May 7, 2015, 2:05 p.m., EDT. Last updated December 7, 2017.

4. Dupere, Katie. “This Creative New Toy Teaches Kids about Transgender Identity.” Mashable, June 27, 2017.

5. Dupere.

6. Salam, Maya. “Mattel, Maker of Barbie Debuts Gender-Neutral Dolls.” Arts. New York Times, September 25, 2019.

7. Larkin, Alexandra. “Teen Inspires First Transgender Doll.” Health. CNN, n.d. Last updated February 21, 2017, 5:15 p.m., ET.

8. Bellware, Kim. “Mattel Helped Define Gender Norms for Decades with Barbie and Ken. Now It’s Defying Them.” Business. Washington Post, September 25, 2019, 5:25 p.m., EDT.

9. McKenzie, Calum. “Child Gender Identity Referrals Show Huge Rise in Six Years.” UK. BBC, February 11, 2016.

10. Donnelly, Laura. “Rise in Child Transgender Referrals.” News. Telegraph, April 7, 2015, 1:00 p.m., BST.

11. McKenzie, Calum. “Child Gender Identity Referrals Show Huge Rise in Six Years.”

12. Littman, Lisa. “Parent Reports of Adolescents and Young Adults Perceived to Show Signs of a Rapid Onset of Gender Dysphoria.” PLOS One, August 16, 2018.

13. American College of Pediatricians. “Gender Ideology Harms Children.” March 21, 2016. Last updated September 2017.

14. American College of Pediatricians.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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