Transgender individuals face a significantly higher risk for mental health issues compared to the general population. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 6.7 percent of the general U.S. population suffer from depression and 18 percent face some form of anxiety, while nearly half of transgender individuals experience these issues. In addition, 41 percent of trans men and women are estimated to have attempted suicide—a rate nine times higher than the rest of the population.
Transgender men and women face elevated rates of mental healh issues due to the discrimination, stigma, lack of acceptance, and abuse they experience on a regular basis. For parents of trans teens, support, understanding, and acceptance is essential to the well-being of your teen. So, why is supporting your trans teen important, and how can you show your support?
How does support help trans teens?
Transgender individuals surrounded by accepting, supportive communities have shown significantly decreased rates of mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Although an accepting community will not completely erase the discomfort and shame experienced by many trans men and women, it can positively influence their emotional well-being.
In fact, a 2016 study published in Pediatrics revealed that trans youth who were accepted by their friends, families, and teachers “had only marginally higher levels of anxiety symptoms” and “developmentally normative levels of depression.” The study focused on trans teens who were able to socialize as the gender they identified and dress as they wanted without judgment.
Why do trans teens need mental health care?
According to a 2015 study on trans adolescents and mental health care, there is a deep need for gender-affirming mental health services during the transitioning process. Teens require support and competent mental health care in order to overcome issues common to the transgender experience.
For parents of transgender teens, creating a social support system is paramount. Parents must listen, love, and support their trans teen during the transitioning process. It’s important for parents to stay aware of the struggles that their teen faces when seeking acceptance. Trans teens often face bullying, discrimination, and abuse by peers, resulting in a heightened risk of mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
A comprehensive support system should include support, understanding, and acceptance from family and friends. A mental health care professional will be able to answer any questions that arise during the transition and help your teen every step of the way.
Creating a social support network
When children or teenagers begin to express feelings of gender dysphoria, many parents aren’t sure what steps to take. Transitioning genders can be a long journey and involves effort on the part of both the child and the parents. Transitioning involves social transitioning (changing name, pronouns) along with medical transitioning (puberty blockers, hormones).
For trans teens, the support of friends and family is essential during the transitioning process. Trans youth can also benefit from the help of mental health and medical professionals who have experience treating transgender individuals. In order to create a strong social support network, parents should work with professionals to create a comprehensive support plan.
A typical support plan for trans youth includes medical and mental health support from experienced professionals, group therapy for both parents and teens, family support, and support from school officials. For parents unsure where to start, check out Polaris Teen for help creating an effective support plan.
Parents must create a comprehensive support network in order to ensure the emotional and mental wel-lbeing of their trans teen. Ultimately, the support and understanding of friends and family and the help of mental health care professionals will help your teen navigate the transitioning process while significantly reducing their risk for mental health issues.
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