Impacts of Strong Parental Support for Trans Youth

Yet another study making clear the connection between strong parental support and improved outcomes for trans and gender nonbinary youth.

October 2, 2012. Authors: Robb Travers, PhD; Greta Bauer, PhD, MPH; Jake Pyne, MSW; Kaitlin Bradley, MSc; LorraineGale, MSW; Maria Papadimitriou, MSc, MPH.

“First and foremost, our findings show clear associations between the support that trans youth experience from their parents and numerous health outcomes. The most significant differences show that trans youth who have strong parental support for their gender identity and expression report higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, better mental health including less depression and fewer suicide attempts, and adequate housing compared to those without strong parental support.”

“For parents and caregivers, our data have many implications. Our earlier results (not shown) revealed that having a “somewhat supportive” parent did not have a significantly more positive effect on youth than if their parents were not at all supportive of their gender expression and identity. This indicates that anything less than strong support may have deleterious effects on a child’s well-being…”

“…Some parents feel shame or grief because their child is different than they expected and many worry that their child will be bullied or will lead an unhappy life. For some families, a non-judgemental counsellor can help to process these fears. For others, peer support from other parents of trans youth, either on-line or in person, where available, is their greatest resource. Wherever parents seek support, it is important that they express and process these complex feelings with other adults and not with their child. While some parents worry that being trans will cause their child to be unhappy, ultimately our data indicate that it is parents and caregivers themselves who provide the foundation for their children’s health and well-being with their support.”

“Those working professionally in school settings, child welfare, residential and other services should be aware of the risks facing trans youth whose parents are unsupportive of their gender expression and identity....The presence of an active Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in a school is an important and crucial resource for trans youth…”

“Trans-inclusive youth programs that provide trans youth with a safe and confidential space to access professional and peer supports are crucial in helping to decrease feelings of depression and the despair that precedes suicidal ideation and attempts.”

“Finally, our data point to an urgent need for policy-makers to make themselves familiar with the needs of this very vulnerable group of youth, and to respond accordingly with resources that will help to ameliorate a very desperate situation. For example, providers in a range of settings, including schools, mental health, child welfare, residential, and social and health care services, require appropriate policies, practices, training and resources to ensure that service provision to trans youth is delivered with dignity and respect…”