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No Increase in Depression for Supported Transgender Children

Transgender children who have socially transitioned have only minimal elevations in anxiety

MONDAY, Feb. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Transgender children who have socially transitioned and are supported to live openly as the gender “opposite” their natal sex do not have elevations in depression, and have only slightly elevated anxiety, according to a study published online Feb. 26 in Pediatrics.

Kristina R. Olson, Ph.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues recruited a community-based national sample of 73 transgender, prepubescent children (aged 3 to 12 years) and control groups of nontransgender children in the same age range (73 age- and gender-matched controls and 49 siblings of transgender participants). Anxiety and depression measures were completed by parents.

The researchers observed no elevations in depression for transgender children, and anxiety was only slightly elevated relative to population averages. On depression symptoms, transgender children did not differ from the control groups, and they had only marginally higher symptoms of anxiety.

“Socially transitioned transgender children who are supported in their gender identity have developmentally normative levels of depression and only minimal elevations in anxiety, suggesting that psychopathology is not inevitable within this group,” the authors write. “Socially transitioned transgender children have notably lower rates of internalizing psychopathology than previously reported among children with gender identity disorder living as their natal sex.”

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