Understanding the Mental Health of Transgender and Nonbinary Youth

J Adolesc Health. 2020 Jun;66(6):684-690. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2019.11.314. Epub 2020 Jan 25.

Abstract

Purpose: Currently, there is a lack of nationwide data examining the mental health of transgender and nonbinary youth. Furthermore, relatively little is known about how the mental health of transgender and nonbinary youth compares to that of their cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and questioning peers or differences within subgroups of transgender and nonbinary youth. The goal of the present study was to better understand the mental health of transgender and nonbinary youth.

Methods: We analyzed responses from a national quantitative cross-sectional survey of more than 25,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth, aged between 13 and 24 years, in the U.S.

Results: Transgender and nonbinary youth were at increased risk of experiencing depressed mood, seriously considering suicide, and attempting suicide compared with cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and questioning youth. Controlling for sexual orientation-based or gender identity-based experiences of perceived discrimination and physical threats or harm reduced the disparities but did not fully account for them. Within-group analyses highlighted particularly increased risk for negative mental health outcomes among transgender males and nonbinary youth assigned female at birth.

Conclusions: Findings point to the need to directly address the needs of transgender and nonbinary youth in prevention and intervention programs and to advance policies that reduce discrimination and victimization based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Keywords: Discrimination; Gender identity; Mental health; Nonbinary youth; Suicide; Transgender youth.