Mental health and resilience in transgender individuals: What type of support makes a difference?

J Fam Psychol. 2019 Dec;33(8):954-964. doi: 10.1037/fam0000561. Epub 2019 Jul 18.


Research has generally shown the benefits of social support, such as the buffering effects on life stressors, yet there has been little empirical investigation of different types of support resources for transgender individuals. We examined family support, support from friends, and connectedness to a transgender community and how these forms of support come together to influence mental health and resilience. The sample included 695 transgender participants (mean age = 25.52 years, SD = 9.68, range = 16-73; 75.7% White) who completed an online survey. Greater than half of participants reported moderate to severe levels of anxious and depressive symptoms. Family social support had the strongest correlations with symptoms of anxiety and depression (r = -.31 and -.37, respectively, p < .01) and was the only form of support associated with resilience when controlling for other forms of support. Latent profile analyses revealed 4 groups based on levels of social support from family and friends and community connectedness. Notably, Class 1 (n = 323; 47.1%) had high levels of support from family and friends and high levels of community connectedness. This class had lower levels of depression and anxiety symptoms and higher levels of resilience compared to other classes (Class 2, n = 276, 40.3%, high friend/community, low family; Class 3, n = 47, 6.9%, low support; Class 4, n = 39, 5.7%, high family, low friend/community). This study highlights the importance of examining support from a more holistic approach and provides insight into unique associations between familial social support and resilience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Community Networks*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Social Support*
  • Transgender Persons / psychology*
  • Young Adult