Future Directions in Affirmative Psychological Interventions with Transgender Children and Adolescents.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

Transgender children and adolescents experience a gender identity that is incongruent with their sex assigned at birth, often resulting in gender dysphoria. Emerging literature has explored the etiology of transgender identities, documented transgender youths' risk for psychopathology, and evaluated whether social and medical gender transition processes are appropriate and effective for transgender youth. However, there is a dearth of empirical data on gender-affirmative psychological interventions designed to reduce the forms of psychological distress experienced by many transgender youths. This is surprising given the elevated rates of psychological distress among transgender youth and the broad recommendation for psychotherapy for youth going through a gender transition. To identify future directions in psychological interventions for transgender youth, we first review key background information on transgender youths' identity development and the role of psychological support in affirmative care. Next, we present future directions in this literature, which emphasizes the need for theory-driven empirical research that incorporates the developmental context of transgender youth to understand the mechanisms underlying group-specific psychological distress. Finally, we lay out the application of these future directions by exploring 3 domains relevant to transgender youth's psychological distress: gender dysphoria, parent and peer interactions, and co-occurring psychopathology. Within each domain, we review extant empirical research, present the current state of affirmative psychological interventions, and discuss implications for future directions. Future research on affirmative psychological care for transgender youth is urgently needed and must focus on clearly articulating which youth could benefit from psychological interventions and why those interventions might be effective.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Spivey, LA; Edwards-Leeper, L

Published Date

  • March 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 48 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 343 - 356

PubMed ID

  • 30640549

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-4424

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/15374416.2018.1534207


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England