National Transgender and Gender Variant School-age Youth Survey: Stigma, resilience, and mental health

While limited research has documented the mental health status of transgender and gender variant youth, the available evidence suggests this is an extremely vulnerable group.

This project will document the mental health issues and related risk exposures of transgender and gender variant youth in Canada. It will also explorehow their home, school, and community environments contribute to mental health.

The National Canadian Trans Youth Survey will sample transgender and gender variant youth nationwide, recruited through service providers and social networks. Survey questions will assess a broad range of physical and mental health outcomes and related behaviours, primarily drawn from existing national, provincial, and international school-based adolescent health surveys. This will allow direct comparison of trans and gender-variant youths’ health and well-being to the rest of the population. Dr. Veale will lead the mental health component of the project. This will involve exploring the relationship between young people’s social environments and mental health, including school experiences, family supports, and exposure to discrimination or violence. With a focus on specific mental health issues such as emotional distress, self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, this research will identify both health inequities for trans and gender variant young people, as well as environments and experiences that contribute to mental health risk or resilience.

Analysis of all of these factors will identify potential intervention points for school and community strategies to improve the mental health and well-being of transgender and gender variant youth. The results will be taken back to the surveyed youth themselves, as well as academic audiences, education and public health stakeholders through a variety of knowledge-to-action strategies, and serves as the critical first step in developing policies and programs to promote the mental health of transgender youth.