Psychosocial Characteristics of Transgender Youth Seeking Gender-Affirming Medical Treatment: Baseline Findings From the Trans Youth Care Study

Diane Chen*, Mere Abrams, Leslie Clark, Diane Ehrensaft, Amy C. Tishelman, Yee Ming Chan, Robert Garofalo, Johanna Olson-Kennedy, Stephen M. Rosenthal, Marco A. Hidalgo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: This study aimed to characterize two developmental cohorts of transgender and nonbinary youth enrolled in the Trans Youth Care Network Study and describe their gender identity–related milestones and baseline mental health and psychosocial functioning. Methods: Trans Youth Care participants were recruited from four pediatric academic medical centers in the U.S. before initiating medical treatment for gender dysphoria either with gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) or gender-affirming hormones (GAH). GnRHa cohort data were collected from youth and a parent; GAH cohort data were collected from youth only. Results: A total of 95 youth were enrolled in the GnRHa cohort. Mean age was 11.22 years (standard deviation = 1.46), and the majority were white (52.6%) and designated male at birth (51.6%). Elevated depression symptoms were endorsed by 28.6% of GnRHa cohort youth, and 22.1% endorsed clinically significant anxiety. Approximately one fourth (23.6%) endorsed lifetime suicidal ideation, with 7.9% reporting a past suicide attempt. A total of 316 youth were enrolled in the GAH cohort. The mean age was 16.0 years (standard deviation = 1.88), and the majority were white (62%) and designated female at birth (64.9%). Elevated depression symptoms were endorsed by 51.3% of the GAH cohort, and 57.3% endorsed clinically significant anxiety. Two-thirds (66.6%) endorsed lifetime suicidal ideation, with 24.6% reporting a past suicide attempt. Life satisfaction was lower among both cohorts compared with population-based norms. Conclusions: GnRHa cohort youth appear to be functioning better from a psychosocial standpoint than GAH cohort youth, pointing to possible benefits of accessing gender-affirming treatment earlier in life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Gender diversity
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Gender expansive adolescents
  • Gender-affirming care
  • Gender-affirming hormones
  • Pubertal suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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