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Mental health indicators of non-binary young people in the United Kingdom

Arcelus, J1; Thorne, N2; Nieder, T3; Bouman, WP4

1: University of Nottingham / Nottingham Centre for transgender health, United Kingdom; 2: University of Nottingham,UK; 3: University medical centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany; 4: Nottingham Centre for Transgender Health, UK

Objectives: To compare levels of mental health symptomatology (anxiety, depression, and non-suicidal self-injury behaviour) and social support of treatment seeking non-binary young people with binary transgender people attending a national transgender health service in the UK during a two years period.

Materials and Methods: Age and gender identity descriptors were collected, as well as clinical measures of anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale), non-suicidal self-injury (Self-Injury Questionnaire), and social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support).

Results: A total of 388 young people, aged 17-25 years, agreed participation; 331 (85.3%) identified as binary and 57 (14.7 %) as non-binary. Analysis of the data showed that the non-binary group presented with significantly higher levels of anxiety (U =7072, z=-3.02, p=0.002), depression (U=6731, z=-3.20, p=0.001) and poorer self-esteem (U =6797, z=-2.94, p=0.003) than the binary group. The non-binary group experienced significantly more anxiety and depression and had significantly lower self-esteem that the binary group. There were no significant differences between groups in the likelihood of engaging in non-suicidal self-injury behaviour (Chi square (1, 388) = .19, p =0.66). No significant differences were found between the two groups in the global support score (U=7992, z=-1.55, p=0.12), or for any of the subscales; significant others (U=9093, z=-.43, p=0.68), family (U=8662, z=-.81, p=0.41), and friends (U=7927, z=-1.83, p=.06).

Conclusions: Non-binary identifying treatment seeking transgender youth are at increased risk for poor mental health compared to binary transgender youth. This may a reflect of the discrimination the non-binary youth group encounters, as a non-binary identity does not fit the notion of binary gender that is pervasive in how society views both cisgender and transgender people.


Work supported by industry: no.

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