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Gender-affirming treatment for trans adolescents could contribute to development of positive self-perception

Early medical treatment for transgender adolescents should contribute to healthy psychological development, including the development of positive self-perception.

Photo by Jaizer Capangpangan from Unsplash.com

Gender-affirming treatment for transgender adolescents could contribute to the development of a more positive self-perception.

This is according to a study – “Self-Perception of Transgender Adolescents after Gender-Affirming Treatment: A Follow-Up Study into Young Adulthood” by Marijn Arnoldussen, Anna I.R. van der Miesen, Wieteke S. Elzinga, Anne-Marie E. Alberse, Arne Popma, Thomas D. Steensma, and Annelou L.C. de Vries – that appeared in LGBT Health.

For this study, the researchers noted that, ideally, early medical treatment for transgender adolescents should contribute to healthy psychological development, including the development of positive self-perception.

However, it remains unknown if “current treatment approaches meet this expectation”.

They, therefore, eyed to examine transgender adolescents’ self-perception changes over the course of irreversible medical gender-affirming treatment.

They, then, tapped 70 adolescents (49 trans men and 21 trans women). Self-perception was assessed before the start of gender-affirming hormone treatment (mean age = 14.65, standard deviation (SD) = 2.08) and at least 6 months after gender-affirming surgeries (mean age = 20.70, SD = 1.49) by Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents (SPPA). The SPPA is a self-report measure that examines self-perception on seven different domains: Scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic competence, physical appearance, behavioral conduct, close friendship, and global self-worth. Multilevel modeling (random intercepts model) was conducted to determine the effect of time for all domains of self-perception.

They found:

  • the domains of physical appearance and global self-worth improved significantly over the course of treatment;
  • no domain worsened significantly over the course of treatment; and
  • the domains of scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic competence, and close friendship remained stable over time.

“This… provides the first suggestive evidence that irreversible gender-affirming treatment for adolescents could contribute to the development of a more positive self-perception,” the researchers stated, stressing the need for this to be considered when dealing with transgender youth.

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