A systematic review of social stress and mental health among transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States

Elsevier, Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 66, December 2018, Pages 24-38.
Sarah Valentine and Jillian Shipherd

Transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) populations, including those who do not identify with gender binary constructs (man or woman) are increasingly recognized in health care settings. Research on the health of TGNC people is growing, and disparities are often noted. In this review, we examine 77 studies published between January 1, 1997 and March 22, 2017 which reported mental health outcomes in TGNC populations to (a) characterize what is known about mental health outcomes and (b) describe what gaps persist in this literature. In general, depressive symptoms, suicidality, interpersonal trauma exposure, substance use disorders, anxiety, and general distress have been consistently elevated among TGNC adults. We also used the minority stress model as a framework for summarizing existing literature. While no studies included all elements of the Minority Stress Model, this summary gives an overview of which studies have looked at each element. Findings suggest that TGNC people are exposed to a variety of social stressors, including stigma, discrimination, and bias events that contribute to mental health problems. Social support, community connectedness, and effective coping strategies appear beneficial. We argue that routine collection of gender identity data could advance our understanding mental health risk and resilience factors among TGNC populations.