Socially transitioned transgender youth show only slightly higher rates of depression than cisgender youth. The recent study, published in JAMA Network Open, is consistent with previous smaller studies.
The cross-sectional study compiled responses from 3 groups of youth between ages 8 and 14 from a large community-recruited sample. The groups included transgender youth, cisgender siblings of transgender youth, and a cisgender control group in the same age range.
The researchers measured depression and anxiety using forms for the youth and for parents from the National Institutes of Health’s Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) scale. The study included 375 total participants.
The researchers found 3.4% of transgender youth reported depression compared with 4.6% of the siblings and 2.2% of the control group. Anxiety was reported in 11.5% of transgender youth, 13.6% of the siblings, and 6.5% of the control participants.
The study may have overrepresented families with higher levels of parental education, socio-economic status, and who were White.
“These results demonstrate 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 concluded.
“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. 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.”
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