Social Support and Internalizing Psychopathology in Transgender Youth

J Youth Adolesc. 2021 May;50(5):841-854. doi: 10.1007/s10964-020-01391-y. Epub 2021 Feb 11.


Although increasing numbers of children have socially transitioned to live in line with their gender identities, little is known about factors associated with their wellbeing. This study examines the associations between parent-reported family, peer, and school support for a youth's gender identity, as well as an objective measure of state-level support, with parent-reported internalizing symptoms in 265 transgender youth (67.2% transgender girls, 32.8% transgender boys), ages 3-15 years (M = 9.41, SD = 2.62). Parents who reported higher levels of family, peer, and school support for their child's gender identity also reported fewer internalizing symptoms; the objective measure of state-level support was not related to internalizing symptoms. Additionally, peer and school support buffered against the association between gender-related victimization and internalizing symptoms, as reported by parents. This work demonstrates that even among transgender youth with families who supported their transitions, parents see better well-being in their children when they also see more support for the child's gender identity from family, peers, and schools.

Keywords: Internalizing psychopathology; LGBT youth; Social support; Stress buffering; Transgender.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychopathology
  • Social Support
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Transsexualism*