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Associations between negative life experiences and the mental health of trans and gender diverse young people in Australia: findings from Trans Pathways

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 July 2019

Penelope Strauss*
Affiliation:
Telethon Kids Institute & School of Population and Global Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Angus Cook
Affiliation:
School of Population and Global Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Sam Winter
Affiliation:
School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
Vanessa Watson
Affiliation:
Western Australian Department of Health, YouthLink, North Metropolitan Area Health Service, Perth, Australia
Dani Wright Toussaint
Affiliation:
Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Ashleigh Lin
Affiliation:
Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
*
Author for correspondence: Penelope Strauss, E-mail: penelope.strauss@telethonkids.org.au

Abstract

Background

Trans and gender diverse (TGD) young people worldwide experience high rates of poor mental health; however, these rates were unknown in Australia. In addition, how negative life events affect the mental health of TGD young people has been largely unexplored.

Methods

This paper reports on novel mental health findings of Trans Pathways, the largest study ever conducted in Australia with trans (transgender) and gender diverse young people (N = 859; aged 14–25 years). The study was an anonymous online cross-sectional survey undertaken in 2016. Logistic and linear regression models were used to test associations between mental health outcomes and negative life experiences.

Results

TGD young people in Australia experience high levels of mental distress, including self-harming (79.7%), suicidal thoughts (82.4%), and attempting suicide (48.1%). Three in four participants had been diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety (74.6% and 72.2%, respectively). Many TGD young people had been exposed to negative experiences such as peer rejection (89.0%), precarious accommodation (22.0%), bullying (74.0%), and discrimination (68.9%). Most poor mental health outcomes were associated with negative experiences. The strongest associations were found for precarious accommodation and issues within educational settings. For example, participants with a prior suicide attempt were almost six times more likely to have experienced issues with accommodation, including homelessness.

Conclusions

The current results highlight the urgent need for better mental health care and provide insight into areas for targeted mental health interventions. These findings are pertinent for clinicians working with trans young people and wider society.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019

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