Family Relationships and the Health and Well-Being of Transgender and Gender-Diverse Youth: A Critical Review

LGBT Health. 2020 Nov/Dec;7(8):407-419. doi: 10.1089/lgbt.2019.0200. Epub 2020 Nov 10.


Transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) youth experience significant health and well-being disparities compared to their cisgender peers. However, disparities experienced at a population level might be mitigated by individual-level factors such as strong family relationships. Discrete aspects of strong family relationships may impact the health and well-being of TGD youth differently. To date, no systematic review known to us has explored the state of the science regarding the association between family relationships and the health and well-being of TGD adolescents and young adults. As such, our review aimed to (1) compile and present the scientific literature addressing the connection between family relationships and the health and well-being of TGD youth in those families; (2) sort results utilizing the Family Strengths Model; and (3) assess the strength of the literature with evidence-based appraisal tools. Sixteen articles met eligibility criteria (10 quantitative and 6 qualitative). These articles discussed family relationship qualities influencing health and well-being outcomes, including mental health, homelessness, sexual health, and substance use. Three of six qualities of strong families-coping ability, appreciation and affection, and positive communication-were represented in the literature. The risk for bias and study strength appraisals suggest that the available literature is moderately strong overall. Certain characteristics of strong families (commitment, enjoyable time spent together, and spiritual well-being) were underrepresented in the literature. Future research should explore these gaps to ensure that health care and community service providers can deliver the most effective support and care for TGD youth and their families.

Keywords: adolescent; family relations; gender diverse; transgender persons; young adult.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Family Relations / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Transgender Persons / psychology*
  • Transgender Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult