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Transgender+ Communities and Mental Health

person carries transgender flag streaming behind them

The term transgender, or trans+, is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. There’s an infinite spectrum of identities and labels that people may relate to. Some trans+ people are men or women, while others identify as both, neither, or somewhere in between. Gender is complex and can only be determined by the individual themselves.

The trans+ community has grown over recent years – it’s estimated that over 2 million transgender and non-binary people live in the United States today. This number will likely continue to rise as younger generations are increasingly accepting of gender exploration. In fact, youth make up the largest demographic of the transgender community in the U.S. – 18% of trans+ individuals are age 13-17.

Mental Health Challenges in the Trans+ Community

Being trans+, nonbinary, or questioning your gender isn’t a mental health condition, but many trans+ individuals face mental health challenges due to social attitudes toward their identity. It’s hard to feel mentally healthy when you feel unsafe. Unfortunately, the trans+ community faces consistent physical and emotional dangers in today’s world at higher rates than the cisgender population, including:

Misgendering occurs when someone uses a pronoun that does not reflect the gender identity of the person they are speaking about. Oftentimes, this is done accidentally and is not intended to be offensive. Other times, misgendering is done on purpose to harm transgender people. Misgendering someone sends the message to that person that their identity is not valid. Being consistently misgendered has been linked to a diagnosis of PTSD.

Lack of support among family, friends, classmates and/or coworkers can have a significant impact on a transgender person’s mental health. This can include social rejection, discrimination, and verbal or physical harassment. Studies show that transgender people who experience more discrimination from family members show higher levels of psychological distress.

Transphobic legislation has caused significant distress in the trangender community, particularly among young people. Since 2021, there has been a record-breaking number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed. Nearly half of the bills have been aimed at transgender people. These bills are damaging to transgender people’s mental health since they limit their rights, safety, and access to gender-affirming care. The passing of transphobic legislation is linked with a higher number of transgender people seeking suicide information and help.

Barriers to legal identification can make it stressful and potentially dangerous for a transgender person to show their ID. Some states forbid gender marker changes on IDs. Other states make it very difficult to get a gender marker changed. Nearly 1 in 3 transgender people who presented an ID with a name or gender that did not match their presentation were harassed, denied services, or attacked.

Mistreatment by the health care system often leads transgender people to avoid receiving care. Studies show that when transgender people delay receiving care because of non-inclusive medical providers, they are more likely to show signs of a mental health condition.

Financial insecurity is common among transgender people because of discrimination they face in educational and occupational settings. Studies show that 25% of transgender individuals have an annual household income of less than $25,000. The same study found that 79% of transgender individuals in the U.S. are food insecure. These financial barriers increase stress for transgender people, and also make it more difficult to afford quality mental health care.

crowd of people walking with a sign that says Trans Rights Now

Discrimination, Hate, and Harassment


Affirming Trans+ Identities

Everyone expresses their gender in different ways and has varying parts of their identity that are really important to them. This could be their clothes, haircut, name, pronouns, or anything else that makes them who they are. Feeling supported in being yourself is important for anyone, but especially for marginalized populations. Validating a transgender person’s self-defined identity is a great – and essential – way to support them.

Protecting Trans+ Mental Health

  • Gender-affirming health care. Transgender adults who began hormone treatment in adolescence had fewer thoughts of suicide, were at lower risk for serious mental health conditions, and had fewer challenges with substance use than those who started hormones in adulthood.
  • Trans+ community connection. Feeling connected to the trans+ community is linked to improved mental health – as well as increased access to care, supported identity exploration, and an informed transition process.
  • Family support. Transgender youth who have grown up and socially transitioned in affirming households have similar or only slightly elevated rates of anxiety and depression when compared to their cisgender peers.
  • School support. Inclusive school policies (like allowing trans+ youth to participate on the sports teams and use the bathrooms that align with their identity) are related to transgender+ students feeling higher levels of belongingness at school.
Four transgender individuals standing with the Pride flag stretched in front of them

Trans Resources


Trans Lifeline 
1-877-565-8860 (United States) 
1-877-330-6366 (Canada) 
A 24/7 hotline available in the U.S. and Canada staffed by transgender people for transgender people. Confidential, 24/7 crisis support.

Trevor Lifeline 
Crisis Intervention and suicide prevention phone service available 24/7/365.

Confidential online instant messaging with a Trevor counselor, available 24/7.

Text START to 678-678 
Confidential text messaging with a Trevor counselor, available 24/7/365.

SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline 
1-877-360-LGBT (5428) 
Talk and be heard at the SAVE LGBT Elder Hotline. Connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders for confidential support and crisis response 24/7.

The LGBT National Youth Talkline
Youth serving youth through age 25.

General Population Crisis Resources 

Call or text 988 or text TALK to 741741

General Trans+ Organizations

I'm starting to explore my identity and need general information

Human Rights Campaign
The Trevor Project

I need to know my rights or find legal services

National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF)
Transgender Law Center
SAGE - Advocacy & Services for LGBTQ+ Elders

I'm trans and part of the BIPOC community

Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC)
Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC)
Black TransAdvocacy
Trans Latina Coalition

I'm trans and a student or young person

The Trevor Project
Gender Spectrum
Trans Youth Equity Foundation

I'm trans and an athlete


I'm trans and serve(d) in the military

Transgender American Veterans Association

I'm trans and want to advocate for my community

Human Rights Campaign
National LGBTQ Task Force
SAGE - Advocacy & Services for LGBTQ+ Elders
The Trevor Project
The Williams Institute

Resources for Allies

Human Rights Campaign
The Trevor Project
Gender Spectrum
Trans Youth Equity Foundation
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