New Research published in Pediatrics on Monday, indicates that many more US teens identify themselves using a nontraditional gender option that previously thought. The 2016 study that was conducted examined nearly 81,000 ninth and eleventh graders across 85% of Minnesota school districts discovered that nearly 3 percent were either transgender or some gender option other than the one that was given them at birth, including those that refer to themselves as “them”, rather than “he” or “she”.
“Youth who are transgender have a gender identity and/or expression differing from societal expectations based on their birth-assigned sex, whereas youth who are cisgender have a gender identity aligning with their birth-assigned sex. Gender nonconforming describes individuals whose gender expression does not follow stereotypical conventions of masculinity and femininity and who may or may not identify as transgender.”
Of that number, nearly 2,200 teens identified themselves as transgender or gender nonconforming and is considered to be a sample that provides statistics representative of teens across the country.
These students were reported to have mental and physical health that was poorer than other, normal, teens, which served to corroborate other studies that found similar health occurrences.
“studies indicate that adolescents who identify as TGNC versus cisgender experience significant mental health disparities… The young individual may also be placed at an elevated risk for harassment and victimization, which in turn may contribute to a heightened risk for negative health outcomes, such as depressive symptoms, self-harm, posttraumatic stress, disordered eating, and suicidal ideation and attempts.
For example, Roberts et al found that youth who reported childhood gender nonconformity were at heightened risk for depressive symptoms during adolescence and early adulthood compared with those reporting childhood gender conformity. Birth-assigned males who reported childhood gender nonconformity were at the greatest risk for bullying victimization and depressive symptoms. …Gordon et al found that gender nonconformity was associated with an increased risk for problems with mobility, usual activities, pain or discomfort, anxiety, and depression. Health scores were lower for participants with moderate gender conformity and lowest for those with low gender conformity when compared with participants reporting high gender conformity.”
Previous studies used survey results from the adult population to estimate the number of teens who are transgender. With the growing awareness about transgender issues, it is believed that more transgender teens are feeling more confident about coming out or experimenting with gender identity.
With a larger statistic of teens who don’t identify with traditional gender norms, educators and physicians can stop seeing it as rarity. This can make it easier to help gender non conformists with their emerging sexual identities, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Health researchers who do not incorporate options to indicate nonbinary gender identities and expressions are at risk for having categories that misclassify or exclude certain gender diverse participants. This categorical invisibility and erasure of diverse gender identities and expressions contribute to a lack of knowledge and training for health care providers and thereby place youth who are TGNC at risk for poorer health outcomes. In the current study, we address these concerns and illuminate health-related disparities in this underserved youth population.”