New research has found that transgender children who receive social and family support during their transition do not suffer from a higher rate of depression.
Researchers asked parents of 73 trans kids aged 3 to 12 to report on their children’s anxiety and depression symptoms.
These parents had all actively supported their kids’ transitions. The children expressed their gender identities both at school and at home.
By comparing the data with that from a control group, researchers found no major difference between depression levels of the trans kids and their peers.
The trans kids did have slightly higher levels of anxiety.
“But they are doing radically better than children in previous studies of gender-nonconforming kids who had not socially transitioned,” said Kristina Olson, at the University of Washington, who led the research.
Past data show that a quarter of trans youth report having made a suicide attempt at some point in their lives.
Studying these socially supported kids could offer a clue on how to improve mental health outcomes for trans youth. But researchers aren’t sure what exactly is making these kids resilient.
“This is the first of hopefully many studies that will come out on this topic, to speak to whether or not it’s the transition specifically that is leading these children to do so well, or whether or not there are special features about the kinds of families who transition their kids,” Olson said.
Olson said the parents of these kids tend to be more educated and on average more attentive to their children.
“Once we have more evidence, then we can make more clear recommendations,” she said.
She said she’s interested in following the study subjects over the long term, to see how their mental health fares during the challenges of adolescence.