Experiences and psychological wellbeing outcomes associated with bullying in treatment-seeking transgender and gender-diverse youth
Bouman, Walter P.
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Purpose: Bullying in the adult transgender population is well documented, but less is known about bullying in transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) youth. Studies have begun to explore experiences of bullying and the associated psychological distress in TGD youth; however, they often fail to distinguish among the separate groups within LGBT samples. This study sought to explore the prevalence, nature, and outcomes of bullying in TGD youth attending a transgender health service in the United Kingdom, taking into account birth-assigned sex and out and social transition status. Methods: Before their first appointment at a specialist gender clinic, participants completed a brief sociodemographic questionnaire, a questionnaire assessing experiences and outcomes of bullying, and a clinically validated measure of anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). Results: A total of 274 TGD people aged 16-25 years participated in the study. The majority of participants (86.5%) reported having experienced bullying, predominantly in school. Bullying was more prevalent in birth-assigned females and in out individuals, and commonly consisted of homophobic/transphobic (particularly in socially transitioned individuals) or appearance-related (particularly in out individuals) name calling. Individuals who reported having experienced bullying showed greater anxiety symptomology and also self-reported anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem as effects of bullying. Birth-assigned females also reported greater effects on family relationships and social life. Conclusion: These findings indicate very high levels of bullying within the young TGD population attending a transgender health service in the United Kingdom, which affects wellbeing significantly. More intervention work and education need to be introduced in schools to reduce bullying.