Sunday, March 13, 2016

Victimization, Mental Health & Well-Being among Trans Youths in the Province of Quebec

Trans youths are more likely to experience negative social and parental reactions suggesting reprehension, from disapproving looks to physical violence. While victimization increases the likelihood of poor mental health outcomes, little is known about potential mediating factors between mental health and victimization. Self-esteem is one of the factors that may mediate the impact of homophobic victimization on mental health. Yet, data on trans youths are scarce.

The objectives of this paper are: 
  1. to compare trans youths to cisgender heterosexual male and female youths regarding two different forms of victimization (victimization based on gender nonconformity and parental verbal abuse), self-esteem, and psychological distress, as well as 
  2. to test a path model of the impact of these two forms of victimization on self-esteem and psychological distress.
Data for this study are drawn from the Quebec Youths' Romantic Relationships survey. Data were collected among youth aged 14 to 22 years old recruited either in schools or online. Thirty-seven participants endorsed being trans or questioning their gender identity. They were paired to 74 cisgender heterosexual youths (37 male and 37 female) using propensity scores based on socio-demographic characteristics.

Results showed that verbal parental abuse and victimization based on gender nonconformity were more prevalent among trans participants. Parental verbal abuse and victimization based on gender nonconformity were both directly and negatively associated with self-esteem (explained variance: 36%). Sexual status explains 19.6% of the variance of parental victimization and 50.6% of the variance of victimization on the basis of gender nonconformity. A higher self-esteem was associated with decreased psychological distress (explained variance: 66.9%). Moreover, parental verbal abuse was also directly associated with higher psychological distress. Although there was no direct relationship between trans status and psychological distress and self-esteem, its total indirect effects on these two indicators of mental health and wellbeing status were significant (p-value < 0.001), suggesting that the impact of sexual status on them is mediated by the victimization.

This study showed the high vulnerability of trans youths to poor mental health and wellbeing outcomes because of the victimization they experience. The results highlight the importance of preventing victimization based on sexual-minority status and to educate people, including parents, to sexual and gender diversity.

Purchase full article [Article in French] at: 

  • 1Département de psychologie, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.
  • 2Département de sexologie, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  •  2015 Fall;40(3):77-92. 

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