Self-harm prevalence and ideation in a community sample of cis, trans and other youth

Catherine Butler, Richard Joiner, Richard Bradley, Mark Bowles, Aaron Bowes, Claire Russell, Veronica Roberts

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Background: Trans youth have been reported to have high rates of self-harm, depression and bullying, and find it difficult to seek support. However, much of this research comes from gender identity clinics; non-clinical samples and those who reject gender binaries remain under-researched. Aims: This study investigated the experiences of a community school-based sample of Trans, identifying youth, Other, and cis-gendered adolescents in relation to their experiences of low mood, bullying, associated support, self-harm ideation and peer-related self-harm. Methods: An online survey was completed by 8440 13–17 year olds (3625 male, 4361 female, 227 Other, and 55 Trans). Results: Trans and Other students had significantly higher rates of self-harm ideation and peer self-harm, in comparison to cis-gendered students. These Trans and Other students reported significantly higher rates of bullying and self-reported depression and significantly less support from teachers and staff at school, in fact these students did not know where to go to access help. Discussion: This community sample confirms findings of high rates of self-harm ideation, self-reported depression and bullying for Trans youth as previously reported in clinic-based samples. However, by accessing a community sample, the salience of the category “Other” was established for young people today. While Other and Trans identified students both struggled to find support, those who identified as Trans were more likely to have been bullied, and have experienced self-reported depression and thoughts of self-harm. Thus, those who identify as transgender represent a high-risk group that needs targeted support within schools and by statutory and nonstatutory community services. Unpacking the category of Other would be beneficial for future research, as well as exploring resilience within this group and intersecting identities such as sexuality, Autism, or experiences such as earlier abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-458
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Transgenderism
Issue number4
Early online date16 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2019


  • bullying
  • depression
  • gender nonbinary
  • school
  • self-harm
  • support
  • transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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