Adolescents who identify as transgender or gender-diverse have higher rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide. A 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health conducted by The Trevor Project reported that 52% of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 20% attempted suicide in the past year. For cisgender youth (whose personal and gender identity correspond with their sex assigned at birth) among this group, those numbers were 32% and 10%, respectively.
“Data also supports that transgender and gender-diverse youth have better mental health outcomes when they have the support of their family, including the use of their chosen name and pronouns at home,” says Dr. Chang. “We always tell families we cannot predict the future, but we know that data and research show that children who are supported by their families and affirmed in their gender identity have better outcomes in terms of depression, anxiety, suicide.”
Dr. Chang stresses the importance of providing support and guidance during social transitions.
That support can come in many areas and can greatly impact mental health. Her team will reach out to schools on behalf of their patients if there are issues regarding access to gender-neutral bathrooms or locker rooms, or help families understand pronoun use and expand their vocabulary. “For social transition, sometimes it will be about cutting their hair or dressing a certain way,” she says. “Other patients may have questions about chest binding or puberty suppression, which is not the same as hormones. These are all reversible things that can really support the adolescent and make them feel a lot better.”