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Changes in Gender Identity Not Tied to Depressive Symptoms in Youth

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Findings among sexual and gender minority youth followed for roughly 3.5 years

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 29, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Changes in gender identity are not associated with changes in depressive symptoms over time among sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth, according to a study published online May 22 in JAMA Network Open.

André Gonzales Real, M.D., from The University of Texas at Austin, and colleagues examined whether gender identity trajectories and changes in youth-reported gender identity are associated with depressive symptoms over time. Analysis included 366 SGM youths (aged 15 to 21 years) participating in four waves (every nine months) of a longitudinal U.S. community-based study (November 2011 to June 2015).

The researchers found that one in five (18.3 percent) reported a different gender identity over approximately 3.5 years, with 28 youths varying gender identity more than twice. At baseline, participants with a cisgender to transgender or gender-diverse trajectory reported higher levels of depression versus the group identifying as cisgender at all time points. However, there was no statistical difference once exposure to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender violence was taken into account. Variability in gender identity was not associated with within-person change in depressive symptoms or the level of depressive symptoms.

“In this study, changes in gender identity were not associated with depressive symptoms, suggesting that gender identity exploration is a normal part of adolescent development for some youths,” the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text 

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