Purpose: Transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) adolescents and young adults experience mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, at an elevated rate as compared to their cisgender counterparts. A growing literature suggests that vulnerability to psychiatric problems in TGNC individuals results from social discrimination and minority stress. Methods: The sample consisted of adolescent TGNC patients (N = 109) who completed behavior health screening questionnaires as standard of care at their first clinical visit to an interdisciplinary gender program within a pediatric academic medical center in a metropolitan Midwestern city. Binary logistic regressions were used to assess whether the likelihood that participants met clinical diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) was predicted by gender identity appearance congruence, proximal forms of minority stress (e.g., negative expectations of the future related to gender identity; internalized transphobia) and community connectedness (i.e., resilience). Results: Overall, 33% (n = 36) of the sample met diagnostic criteria for MDD and 48% (n = 53) met diagnostic criteria for GAD. Those with high levels of internalized transphobia were significantly more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for both MDD and GAD. Those with low levels of gender identity appearance congruence were significantly more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for MDD but not GAD. Conclusion: There are several unique factors that may predict mental illness among TGNC youth. Understanding these factors may offer opportunities for targeted clinical and structural interventions.
- Health disparity
- Minority stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health