Supporting Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth: Protection Against Emotional Distress and Substance Use

Amy L Gower, Nic Rider, Camille Brown, Barbara J McMorris, Eli Coleman, Lindsay A. Taliaferro, Marla E Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: Important mental and physical health disparities exist for transgender and gender diverse youth compared with cisgender youth (i.e., those whose birth-assigned sex and gender identity align), yet little is known about factors that protect transgender and gender diverse youth from health problems. The objective of this paper is to identify modifiable protective factors in the lives of transgender and gender diverse adolescents, with the goal of informing efforts to eliminate disparities in depression, suicidality, and substance use in this population. Methods: Secondary data analysis of the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey examined associations between eight protective factors (connectedness to parents, adult relatives, friends, adults in the community, and teachers; youth development opportunities; and feeling safe in the community and at school) and depression, suicidality, and substance use (alcohol, binge drinking, marijuana, nicotine) among 2,168 adolescents who identified as transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or questioning their gender. Logistic regressions assessed the role of each protective factor separately and simultaneously. Results: Each protective factor was associated with lower odds of emotional distress and substance use. When protective factors were examined simultaneously, parent connectedness was protective for all measures. Feeling safe at school and connected to adults in one's community protected against depression and suicidality; teacher connectedness buffered risk of substance use. Conclusions: Given that transgender and gender diverse youth report lower levels of connectedness and safety, bolstering an explicitly transgender and gender diverse–friendly network of caring parents, safe and supportive schools, and connections to adults in the community may support efforts to eliminate disparities in depression, suicidality, and substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-794
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Volume55
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

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Transgender Persons
Depression
Emotions
Parents
Binge Drinking
Cannabis
Nicotine
Alcohol Drinking
Mental Health
Logistic Models
Protective Factors
Parturition
Students
Safety
Health

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

Cite this

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title = "Supporting Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth: Protection Against Emotional Distress and Substance Use",
abstract = "Introduction: Important mental and physical health disparities exist for transgender and gender diverse youth compared with cisgender youth (i.e., those whose birth-assigned sex and gender identity align), yet little is known about factors that protect transgender and gender diverse youth from health problems. The objective of this paper is to identify modifiable protective factors in the lives of transgender and gender diverse adolescents, with the goal of informing efforts to eliminate disparities in depression, suicidality, and substance use in this population. Methods: Secondary data analysis of the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey examined associations between eight protective factors (connectedness to parents, adult relatives, friends, adults in the community, and teachers; youth development opportunities; and feeling safe in the community and at school) and depression, suicidality, and substance use (alcohol, binge drinking, marijuana, nicotine) among 2,168 adolescents who identified as transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or questioning their gender. Logistic regressions assessed the role of each protective factor separately and simultaneously. Results: Each protective factor was associated with lower odds of emotional distress and substance use. When protective factors were examined simultaneously, parent connectedness was protective for all measures. Feeling safe at school and connected to adults in one's community protected against depression and suicidality; teacher connectedness buffered risk of substance use. Conclusions: Given that transgender and gender diverse youth report lower levels of connectedness and safety, bolstering an explicitly transgender and gender diverse–friendly network of caring parents, safe and supportive schools, and connections to adults in the community may support efforts to eliminate disparities in depression, suicidality, and substance use.",
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AU - Taliaferro, Lindsay A.

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N2 - Introduction: Important mental and physical health disparities exist for transgender and gender diverse youth compared with cisgender youth (i.e., those whose birth-assigned sex and gender identity align), yet little is known about factors that protect transgender and gender diverse youth from health problems. The objective of this paper is to identify modifiable protective factors in the lives of transgender and gender diverse adolescents, with the goal of informing efforts to eliminate disparities in depression, suicidality, and substance use in this population. Methods: Secondary data analysis of the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey examined associations between eight protective factors (connectedness to parents, adult relatives, friends, adults in the community, and teachers; youth development opportunities; and feeling safe in the community and at school) and depression, suicidality, and substance use (alcohol, binge drinking, marijuana, nicotine) among 2,168 adolescents who identified as transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or questioning their gender. Logistic regressions assessed the role of each protective factor separately and simultaneously. Results: Each protective factor was associated with lower odds of emotional distress and substance use. When protective factors were examined simultaneously, parent connectedness was protective for all measures. Feeling safe at school and connected to adults in one's community protected against depression and suicidality; teacher connectedness buffered risk of substance use. Conclusions: Given that transgender and gender diverse youth report lower levels of connectedness and safety, bolstering an explicitly transgender and gender diverse–friendly network of caring parents, safe and supportive schools, and connections to adults in the community may support efforts to eliminate disparities in depression, suicidality, and substance use.

AB - Introduction: Important mental and physical health disparities exist for transgender and gender diverse youth compared with cisgender youth (i.e., those whose birth-assigned sex and gender identity align), yet little is known about factors that protect transgender and gender diverse youth from health problems. The objective of this paper is to identify modifiable protective factors in the lives of transgender and gender diverse adolescents, with the goal of informing efforts to eliminate disparities in depression, suicidality, and substance use in this population. Methods: Secondary data analysis of the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey examined associations between eight protective factors (connectedness to parents, adult relatives, friends, adults in the community, and teachers; youth development opportunities; and feeling safe in the community and at school) and depression, suicidality, and substance use (alcohol, binge drinking, marijuana, nicotine) among 2,168 adolescents who identified as transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, or questioning their gender. Logistic regressions assessed the role of each protective factor separately and simultaneously. Results: Each protective factor was associated with lower odds of emotional distress and substance use. When protective factors were examined simultaneously, parent connectedness was protective for all measures. Feeling safe at school and connected to adults in one's community protected against depression and suicidality; teacher connectedness buffered risk of substance use. Conclusions: Given that transgender and gender diverse youth report lower levels of connectedness and safety, bolstering an explicitly transgender and gender diverse–friendly network of caring parents, safe and supportive schools, and connections to adults in the community may support efforts to eliminate disparities in depression, suicidality, and substance use.

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