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Socially transitioned transgender youth may have better mental health

Socially transitioned transgender youth (or those who openly identify and live as a gender different from their sex assignment at birth) show “normative or only slightly elevated rates of depression and anxiety.”

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels.com

While various studies have found that youth who do not conform to gender norms for their assigned sex have higher rates of depression and anxiety than their cisgender peers, a newer research is saying that socially transitioned transgender youth (or those who openly identify and live as a gender different from their sex assignment at birth) show “normative or only slightly elevated rates of depression and anxiety.” This suggests that those who live their true selves are better off.

The study – “Evaluation of Anxiety and Depression in a Community Sample of Transgender Youth” by Dominic J. Gibson, PhD; Jessica J. Glazier, MS; and Kristina R. Olson, PhD – appeared in JAMA Network Open.

This cross-sectional study included responses from three groups of youth between ages 8 and 14 years in a community-recruited sample: transgender youth (148 participants), cisgender siblings of transgender children (88 participants), and cisgender age-matched controls (139 participants).

The researchers measured depression and anxiety using the pediatric short form (completed by youth) and proxy form (completed by parents) of the National Institutes of Health’s Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) scale, which measures depression and anxiety on a 100-point scale where 50 is the population mean and 40 to 60 is the reference range.

The results demonstrated that “many socially transitioned transgender youth experience levels of anxiety and depression in the normative range and equal to or only slightly higher than siblings and cisgender peers,” the researchers noted.

While the researchers admitted that “whether their generally strong mental health is because of their early social transition, the high levels of support they receive, or other factors is as yet unknown”, nonetheless, this is what this research is suggesting.

In the end, “the current findings do not negate the experiences of the many transgender people who face high rates of mental health challenges but do provide further evidence that being transgender is not synonymous with these challenges,” the researchers ended.

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