Parents can do one thing to lower trans kids’ depression: Support them

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Trans youth face higher rates of bullying, anxiety, and suicide than their cisgender peers.

Adolescence is tough for everybody, but for trans kids, the obstacles and challenges can feel especially harsh. Studies show that trans youth and teens are at risk for higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than their cisgender peers. They’re also more likely to be bullied and harassed at school, often leading to leave without a high school diploma. For trans youth who are facing homelessness, the future is particularly bleak. 

But according to a recent study published in the journal American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, there is one major thing parents can do to help their trans kids: support them.

To conduct the study, researchers worked with 63 trans kids between 2012 and 2015, all of whom had already begun their transitions and came from supportive families. Support, in this case, involved referring to children by the correct pronouns and wearing clothing that aligned with their gender identity. 

With supportive families, trans kids were no more likely to suffer from depression than cisgender kids in their age group. This should be no surprise, given that kids in general seek support and positive reinforcement from authority figures, especially their families. 

Sadly, the majority of states in the U.S. do not have laws that guarantee protections for trans kids. In fact, according to GLSEN’s recent data, the majority of schools do not talk about trans issues in the classroom, and teachers as a whole feel uncomfortable dealing with LGBTQ issues. In many schools, trans kids are still fighting for their right to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. 

With such large-scale legal obstacles in the way, this study reinforces the impact adult support has on trans kids’ mental health and future. 

Marissa Higgins

Marissa Higgins

Marissa Higgins is the editor of Green Matters. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Slate, Salon, NPR, and elsewhere.