Mental Health Issues and Complex Experiences of Abuse among Trans and Gender Diverse Young People: Findings from Trans Pathways

Penelope Strauss, Angus Cook, Sam Winter, Vanessa Watson, Dani Wright Toussaint, Ashleigh Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Trans and gender diverse (TGD) young people have reported high levels of mental distress in research studies, specifically depression, anxiety, self-harming, and suicidal behaviors. Rates of abuse are also high in TGD populations, but little is known about how this relates to mental health in populations of TGD young people. This study sought to examine associations between experiences of abuse and mental health outcomes. Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used. An anonymous online questionnaire was conducted to determine rates of abuse among Australian TGD young people (N = 859) and the potential association with poor mental health. Primary outcomes of interest were self-reported psychiatric diagnoses, self-harm and suicidal behaviors, and current anxiety and depressive symptoms. Results: Exposures to six forms of abuse are reported in this article: extrafamilial physical abuse, familial physical abuse, extrafamilial sexual abuse, familial sexual abuse, abuse within an intimate relationship, and other familial abuse (including emotional or verbal abuse and neglect). All six forms of abuse measured were associated with poor mental health overall; risk estimates for some forms of abuse were much stronger than others. Conclusion: The current findings have wide-ranging implications for clinical practice. Those working in TGD health care need to be aware of the high prevalence of violence and abuse among TGD young people and the association with poor mental health outcomes. The findings also have implications for broader societal change and interventions targeting increasing parental support to reduce familial violence against TGD young people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-136
Number of pages9
JournalLGBT Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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