Anxiety, Depression Similar Among Socially Transitioned Transgender Children as Their Cisgender Peers

Symbol of a transgender and female and male gender symbols drawn with chalk on a black background
The study authors recruited a sample of socially transitioned transgender youth, their siblings, and age- and gender-matched control participants to test whether transgender youth experience significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression than their cisgender peers.

According to the results of a cross-sectional study published in JAMA Network Open, socially transitioned youth had similar levels of anxiety and depression as their cisgender peers.

Youth aged 8 to 14 years were recruited between 2014 and 2020 for this study by researchers at the University of Washington. Socially transitioned transgender individuals (n=148), their cisgender siblings (n=88), and age-matched cisgender controls (n=139) were assessed for anxiety and depression by the pediatric short form and by the National Institutes of Health’s Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) scale.

Among all the participants, 66.9% were boys and 71.2% were White with a mean age of 10.54 (standard deviation [SD], 1.05) years.

As reported by the children, 11.5% of the transgender children, 13.6% of their siblings, and 6.5% of the controls scored within the clinical range for anxiety. For depression, 3.4%, 4.6%, and 2.2% of cohorts scored within the clinical range, respectively. Compared between groups, no significant differences were detected for either anxiety (F[2372], 1.81; h2, 0.01; P =.17) or depression (F[2371], 1.03; h2, 0.01; P =.36) scores.

As reported by their parents, 13.5% of the transgender children, 6.8% of the siblings, and 7.9% of the controls scored within the clinical range for anxiety. The children who scored within the clinical range for depression, as assessed by their parent, was 8.1%, 9.1%, and 4.3%, respectively. Compared between groups, the parents perceived more anxiety among the transgender children (F[2372], 3.55; h2, 0.02; P =.03) but not more symptoms of depression (F[2372], 1.45; h2, 0.01; P =.24).

This study identified fewer symptoms of anxiety or depression among transgender children than previous studies. This may have been due to the overrepresentation of White parents with higher levels of education or variation of stage of transition among the transgender youth.

These data suggested that socially transitioned children did not have more symptoms of anxiety or depression than their age-matched cisgender counterparts.


Gibson DJ, Glazier JJ, Olson KR. Evaluation of anxiety and depression in a community sample of transgender youth. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(4):e214739. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.4739.