The study, "Mental Health of Transgender Children Who are Supported in Their Identities," in the March 2016 issue of Pediatrics (published online on Feb. 26) presents new research on the positive mental health outcomes of prepubescent transgender children who socially transition, or begin to live expressing their gender identities.
Researchers found that children allowed to exhibit their gender, by changing their names, clothing, pronoun use, and hairstyles, had normal levels of depression, and anxiety levels only slightly above their peers. The study compares a national sample of 73 transgender prepubescent children, ages 3 to 12, with 49 of their siblings and a control group of 73 "typically developing" children of the same ages.
While previous research has shown that gender nonconforming youth often have elevated rates of depression and anxiety, this study suggests that familial support can be associated with good mental health outcomes among transgender children. The study authors suggest that further research will be important to evaluate the mental health of transgender children as they move into adolescence.
Editor's Note: A related commentary, "Socially Transition: Supporting our Youngest Transgender Children," will also be published in this issue.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.