90 per cent of trans youth in N.L. depressed, anxious: report
Family support crucial, parents worried their children will be stigmatized
Transgender youth suffer from higher rates of depression and anxiety than other young people, according to a study of trans youth in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Nearly 90 per cent of the 45 youth involved in the study reported being anxious or depressed.
The 2016 study was conducted by the the Trans Health Research Group at Memorial University of Newfoundland's Faculty of Medicine.
"The objectives of the study were to look at health care and support needs, main concerns and hopes of [transgender] children and youth and their parents here in our province," said Dr. Tracey Bridger, one of the people involved in the research group.
Questionnaires were distributed across the province earlier this year, and the results include answers from 24 youth and 21 parents.
'They were very open," Bridger said. "Everything was anonymous, of course, so we couldn't identify who was saying what. Because of that, I think we got excellent, very honest results that will be much more useful to us in the future."
I think we got excellent, very honest results that will be much more useful to us in the future.- Dr. Tracey Bridger , Trans Health Research Group
Bridger said one area of concern identified in the report was that many trans youth do not feel they are supported by family. Only 13 per cent responded they felt they had the backing of parents.
Parents, on the other hand, were worried about their children's mental health and the stigma in society.
Fear of discrimination
"They felt that they may have needed some more information or guidance. There is a lot of transphobia in our society, and they felt a lot of concern for the safety of their children," Bridger said.
"They really wanted to depathologize their child's identity, and it would be great if their children and youth were allowed to grow up in a society where this was seen as very normal, which of course it is.'
Another concern was the long wait time to receive health care related to transgender issues. Eighty per cent said their family doctor was less than knowledgeable about trans issues.
Bridger said the study has already seen some positive results, including a support group for trans youth and a gender wellness clinic for youth at the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's. She said people can find more information on the site Gender Creative Kids - NL.
"We were doing some of this work anyway, but it was never a co-ordinated effort in terms of one place where children could be referred if they needed our services," she said.
"Through that and the group that we've been working with, we are in the process of developing a network around the province that would include health-care professionals, including family doctors who are interested in being involved in the care of trans gender children and youth.'