helping parents to better support trans and gender diverse young people this Trans Awareness Week
This Trans Awareness Week Youth Mental Health Foundation headspace is helping parents to better understand and support young people who identify as trans and gender diverse.
According to research around three in every four transgender young person in Australia has experienced anxiety or depression. This is 10 times higher than young people aged 12-17 years in the general population.
While these statistics are concerning, being a part of the trans and gender diverse community is not itself a risk factor for mental health, rather stressors commonly experienced by trans and gender diverse young people like discrimination, homophobia and transphobia as well as social exclusion increases their vulnerability.
Additionally, trans and gender diverse young people that experience conflict with, or rejection by, their families and loved ones are at higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. In comparison, support and acceptance from family is a key protective factor for young trans and gender diverse people.
This Trans Awareness Week headspace National Clinical Advisor Nick Duigan is providing advice to parents to help them better support and understand their young person.
“Research has found trans and gender diverse young people who come from families that accept their gender identity have better overall health, mental health, higher self-esteem, and are more likely to believe they will have a good life as a gender diverse adult.”
“This Trans Awareness week we want to remind parents that even small changes in level of acceptance and support can make a difference in reducing the risk of suicide, self-harm and improve general and mental health outcomes for their trans and gender diverse young person,” said Nick.
Being open and accepting is at the core of supporting a trans and gender diverse young person, parents might also want to:
- Improve your own understanding and knowledge of gender identity issues through research, reading and contacting support groups
- Talk in an open, non-judgmental way about their identity
- Express acceptance and provide support
- Require that family members and other people respect their gender identity and expression, including using their preferred name and pronouns
- Welcome any friends or their partner, regardless of gender or sexuality, to family events
- Believe they can have a full, happy future as an adult
- Encourage the young person to get further advice and support
For parents it’s also important to look out for your own mental health and reach out if you feel like you need support or more information on what a trans and gender diverse young person is going through, says Wollongong parent Lisa.
Lisa started the headspace Wollongong Parents of Transgender and Gender Diverse Children group because she believed the more information is shared and the more people connect, the better the outcomes would be for young people.
“I want other parents to know that this experience doesn’t have to be an isolating one, reaching out and finding information, support and taking care of your own mental health will actually help to ground your emotions, and ultimately help you to better support your young person,” said Lisa.
For media enquiries please contact:
Sasha Fox, headspace Media & Communications Advisor: SFox@headspace.org.au or 0413 025 385
 Strauss, P., Cook, A., Winter, S., Watson, V., Wright Toussaint, D., Lin, A. (2017). Trans Pathways: the mental health experiences and care pathways of trans young people. Summary of results. Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Australia.