Transgender Youth & Mental Health

The LGBTQ+ community faces disproportionate levels of mental health issues and conditions. Even with the increased attention on the disparities of inter-community mental health, transgender individuals are particularly prone to experiencing a mental health diagnosis, especially when it comes to youths. Embracing your gender identity should be a beautiful thing but for some youths, it’s led to increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other conditions.

The science behind the diagnosis

The Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research and Evaluation recently conducted a study on the notable connection between transgender youths and increased rates of mental health diagnoses. The study’s author, Tracy A. Becerra-Culcui relied on a large sampling of transfeminine (assigned male at birth), transmasculine (assigned female at birth), and gender-noncomforming youths against a control population of youths who identified with their gender assigned at birth. In her findings, she noted that transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals experienced approximately up to 13 times the rate of mental health diagnoses than that of cisgender youths.

Her study found a surprising correlation between the types of disorders being diagnosed by age. Youths in the single digits of age between three to nine years old were more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit disorders. In contrast, youths from 10 to 17 saw higher rates of depressive disorders and suicidal thoughts. In fact, around half of the transfeminine study candidates and a stunning 60% of transmasculine respondents had been diagnosed with a depressive disorder. Some have even gone so far as to address the widespread nature of these diagnoses as a youth mental health epidemic. The data is a strong testament to the pressure that today’s younger citizens are facing, especially when they’re questioning their gender identity, as well as the overall ramifications that can have for their overall well-being.

Mental health resources

Regrettably, even with increased vocal supporters and greater awareness, mental health issues are still frequently stigmatized, especially in the oft-marginalized LGBTQ+ community. As such, not every medical professional, be it a primary care physician or a licensed therapist, will know how to adequately provide for a transgendered youth. Becerra-Culqui herself noted how important it was for practitioners to make sure they’re informed and open to learning more about transgender struggles so they’re better able to provide care.

However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any existing resources in place. From online resources and informative articles on coping with mental health struggles and finding gender-affirming care to the Trevor Project, a 24/7 suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth, there are many ways to find help when it is needed. Sometimes, these resources are enough. Other times, seeking professional intervention is most appropriate.

When it comes to seeking therapy or counseling, keep in mind that there are choices. It’s important to choose a mental health provider that makes you feel comfortable. Without the foundation of trust, it’s all the more difficult to adequately assess a youth’s mental health and in turn provide care. There are digital registries of LGBTQ+-friendly professionals and the path to wellness starts with finding the right provider.

Outside of outpatient facilities and sessions, there are even residential programs that you can learn more by visiting Residential treatment programs are excellent at providing safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youths that are in need of more attentive, specialized care. These therapeutic communities often allow transgender and gender-noncomforming youths to interact with like individuals while still receiving the assistance they need.

Mental health should always be taken seriously, especially for a population that is disproportionately affected. If you or a loved one is struggling with your mental health, it’s important to seek help. Don’t let your well-being suffer by remaining silent. There is always hope and there is always help.