New research finds that young transgender children who have socially transitioned (that is, who are living their lives as the gender they identify with) had positive mental health outcomes. Until now, studies had shown significantly higher rates for depression and anxiety in transgender children. Nearly half attempt suicide by age 24.
Researchers at the University of Washington looked at 73 children ages 3-12 living as their identified gender and compared those children against two control groups — their own siblings and another group. They found average scores for depression and only slightly elevated anxiety rates.
“It puts out the possibility that being a transgender child doesn’t have to be associated with negative mental health outcomes in the way that to date the research has suggested,” said Kristina Olson, Ph.D., lead author of the study and director of the university’s TransYouth Project. She hopes to follow these children for 20 years.