Relationship among gender-related stress, resilience factors, and mental health in a Midwestern U.S. transgender and gender-nonconforming population

Stephanie L. Brennan, Jay Irwin, Andjela Drincic, N. Jean Amoura, Amanda Randall, Megan Smith-Sallans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals experience more discrimination than their cisgender peers, and this discrimination can be associated with poorer mental health. This study used the gender minority stress model as a framework to examine the relationship among gender-related stressors and resilience factors and mental health outcomes. The study particularly aimed to increase knowledge of the gender-nonconforming population. Methods: A community sample of 83 individuals that identify as a gender different than the sex assigned to them at birth completed an online survey. Depression and anxiety were assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), respectively. The Gender Minority Stress and Resilience measure was used to assess distal and proximal stressors and resilience factors. Results: The median CES-D and BAI scores were 16 and 13, respectively. Forty percent had a history of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), 75% had experienced suicidal ideation, and 45% had attempted suicide. Proximal stress was found to be a positive predictor of depressive symptoms. Resilience was a weak negative predictor of anxiety symptoms. Distal stress was a positive predictor of suicide attempts, and resilience factors and hormone use were marginal negative predictors of suicide attempt. Trans women were significantly less likely to have engaged in NSSI, but had a significantly higher proximal stress score than trans men and gender-nonconforming individuals. Conclusion: Our study found high rates of mental health problems in the trans and gender-nonconforming sample. Our findings in part support the gender minority stress model, with gender-related stress predicting certain mental health problems and resilience being a negative predictor. Overall, gender-nonconforming individuals have had similar experiences and mental health findings as transgender individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-445
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Transgenderism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2017


  • Gender-nonconforming
  • gender-related stress
  • mental health
  • non-suicidal self-injury
  • resilience
  • transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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