Gender Minority Youth Experiencing Homelessness and Corresponding Health Disparities

J Adolesc Health. 2023 May;72(5):763-769. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2022.11.229. Epub 2023 Jan 14.


Purpose: Pediatricians and youth service providers frequently interface with vulnerable populations, including gender minority youth (e.g., transgender, nonbinary, gender questioning, and other gender diverse individuals) and youth experiencing homelessness. The purposes of this study are to estimate the prevalence of homelessness and types of homelessness experienced among gender minority youth and their corresponding health outcomes.

Methods: Data for this study came from gender minority (n = 3,194) and cisgender (n = 93,337) high school students who answered questions on transgender status and homelessness status in the 2017 and 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). We compared the prevalence of homelessness between gender minority and cisgender youth and assessed where youth experiencing homelessness had slept in the prior month: shelters, nonparental homes, streets, hotel, or other locations. Finally, logistic regression models and marginal effects (ME) were used to examine health outcomes at the intersection of gender minority status and homelessness.

Results: 22% of gender minority youth reported homelessness during the prior month. Cisgender youth were significantly less likely to report being homeless (3%). Transgender youth experiencing homelessness were significantly more likely to live on the streets than cisgender youth experiencing homelessness (ME = 0.20; 95% CI = 0.10-0.30; p < .001). Gender minority youth experiencing homelessness reported elevated health-risk behaviors in excess of nonhomeless gender minority youth and cisgender youth experiencing homelessness.

Discussion: Public health campaigns, housing interventions, and youth service providers should consider and create tailored programs to secure housing and to promote the health of gender minority youth experiencing homelessness.

Keywords: Gender minorities; Homelessness; Transgender.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Transsexualism*