Shifts in demographics and mental health co-morbidities among gender dysphoric youth referred to a specialist gender dysphoria service

Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2022 Apr;27(2):480-491. doi: 10.1177/13591045211046813. Epub 2021 Oct 23.


Past research has identified shifts in the demographics and co-occurring mental health issues of youth referred to certain gender dysphoria services. The present study examined shifts in demographics (age, sex and social transition status), social adversity (bullying experiences and abuse) and psychological functioning (mood, anxiety, suicidality and autism spectrum disorder) at time of referral (of both children and adolescents) to the Gender Identity Development Service, London between the years of 2012 and 2015. Patients were 782 children and adolescents (M = 13.94, SD = 2.94, range 4-17; 63.8% assigned female at birth). Little change in sex ratio or age was observed between these two time points. However, we observed greater rates of depression and anxiety of birth-assigned females (but not birth-assigned males) in the more recent cohort, at the same time that reported social adversity (bullying and abuse) was falling. Also, of interest, the proportion of young people who had partially or fully socially transitioned prior to contact with the service had increased overtime. We discuss potential factors driving these shifts and their implications for supporting recent cohorts of gender diverse young people.

Keywords: Gender dysphoria; adolescent; children; gender incongruence; mental health; transgender.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Child
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Gender Dysphoria* / epidemiology
  • Gender Dysphoria* / psychology
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Morbidity
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Transgender Persons* / psychology