A recent study conducted at the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) in London has explored the relationship between social gender transition and mental health in children and adolescents diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The study assessed the mental health status of 288 children and adolescents, aged 4 to 17, who were referred to GIDS between January 2012 and December 2016. The findings were published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Gender dysphoria is a term used to describe persistent distress related to one’s biological sex or birth-assigned gender. Children and adolescents with gender dysphoria have a higher prevalence of mental health issues compared to their cisgender peers. Social gender transition, the process of living in one’s affirmed gender, has been theorised to help alleviate mental health problems in young people experiencing gender dysphoria.
The study found that 78.4% of birth-assigned females and 58.8% of birth-assigned males had partially or fully socially transitioned before assessment. Name changes were also common, with 69.2% of birth-assigned females and 37.5% of birth-assigned males having changed their names. However, the study did not find any significant effects of social transition or name change on mental health status.
While the study failed to find strong evidence that social transition was associated with mental health improvements in the short term, the authors acknowledge that more research is needed to better understand the relationship between social transition and mental health in young people with gender dysphoria. This includes longitudinal studies that can provide more confident inferences about the effects of social transition on mental health.
The study is among the first to explore the mental health effects of social gender transition in children and adolescents diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Its findings highlight the need for further research on this topic to better support young people with gender dysphoria and their mental health needs.
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