Researchers in a new study set out to prove that mental health problems in trans kids aren’t inevitable.
Trans children with supportive families have good mental health, according to a study published last month.
Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) surveyed the parents of 73 transgender children – aged 3 to 12.
They found that they had rates of depression and anxiety no higher than two control groups – their own siblings and a group of age and gender-matched children.
Their rates of depression and anxiety were significantly lower than those of gender-nonconforming children in previous studies.
Lead author Kristina Olson, says the findings challenge long-held assumptions that mental health problems in transgender children are inevitable – or even that being transgender is itself a type of mental disorder.
“The thinking has always been that kids who are not acting gender-stereotypically are basically destined to have mental health problems,” said Olson – assistant professor of psychology.
“In our study, that’s not the case.”
Co-author Katie McLaughlin, also an assistant professor of psychology, called the findings “incredibly promising.”
“They suggest that mental health problems are not inevitable in this group, and that family support might buffer these children from the onset of mental health problems so commonly observed in transgender people,” she said.
The research found that the transgender children’s levels of depression averaged a score of 50.1, almost the same as the national norm of 50.
Their anxiety rates were 54.2, only slightly higher than the national norm.
“The higher anxiety rates aren’t exactly surprising”, Olson added.
‘If peers know that a child is transgender, they often tease that child. If peers do not know, the transgender child has to worry about being found out.
“It’s not surprising that transgender children would have some more anxiety, given the state of the world for transgender children right now.”