Transgender adolescents at increased risk for numerous Menta
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Transgender or gender-nonconforming adolescents may have increased risk for various mental health challenges. Research has shown that a significant proportion of adolescents with gender dysphoria have a history of other psychiatric diagnosis. Compared with their cisgender peers, [transgender or nonconforming youth] (TGNC) youth are more likely to report mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

In the current study, researchers sought to compare the mental health status of TGNC adolescents with that of their cisgender peers. They analyzed questionnaire data of 12,108 adolescents from 18 secondary schools Participants completed the Patient Health Questionnaire to measure depressive symptoms, a generalized anxiety disorder screening, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and a risk checklist for self-harm and suicide. The researchers also measured the frequency of being bullied at school. They classified participants who reported their perceived gender as the opposite of their assigned sex at birth as transgender, those who identified as neither male nor female as nonbinary and those who were unsure of their perceived gender as questioning. All participants were considered TGNC adolescents.

A total of 6,518 participants were assigned male at birth, of whom 3.2% were classified as transgender girls, 2.1% as nonbinary youth assigned male at birth and 4.9% as questioning youth assigned male at birth.

A total of 5,590 participants were assigned female at birth, of whom 15.4% were classified as transgender boys, 2% as nonbinary youth assigned female at birth and 8.5% as questioning youth assigned female at birth.

Researchers observed significantly higher health concerns among TGNC adolescents vs. cisgender adolescents. These included: lower overall health, poorer sleep, higher depression and anxiety symptoms and higher rate of self-harm and suicide ideation. TGNC youth who were assigned male at birth had an increased risk for experiencing bullying vs. cisgender boys. Further, TGNC groups also had significantly greater amounts of thoughts of self-harm, suicide, suicide plan formation, deliberate self-harm during the last month and attempts of suicide compared with cisgender boys.

The findings indicate the need for researchers, practitioners and policy makers to address these mental health risks. School-level intervention is recommended to support the well-being and equity of gender minority youth.

It is imperative that representative surveys of adolescents around the world implement comprehensive measures of sex assigned at birth and gender identity. This would provide robust data on the mental health and psychosocial experiences of transgender youth at the population level, affording researchers more of the tools they need to begin to develop and implement effective treatments to reduce the burden of mental health problems within this vulnerable population around the globe.