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J Sex Med. 2014 Dec;11(12):2976-85. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12681. Epub 2014 Aug 26.

Social support and psychological well-being in gender dysphoria: a comparison of patients with matched controls.

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Centre for Research Into Eating Disorders, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.



There is a paucity of research in the area of social support and psychological well-being among people with gender dysphoria.


The present study aimed to investigate levels of social support among individuals with gender dysphoria compared with a matched control group. It also aimed to examine the relationship between social support and psychological well-being.


Participants were 103 individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria (according to ICD-10 criteria) attending a national gender identity clinic and an age- and gender-matched nonclinical control group recruited via social networking websites.


All participants completed measures of social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, MSPSS), psychopathology (Symptom Checklist 90 Revised, SCL), quality of life (Short Form 36 version 2, SF), and life satisfaction (Personal Wellbeing Index, PWI).


Trans women reported significantly lower MSPSS total and MSPSS family scores compared with control women, although these differences in levels of social support were no longer significant when SCL depression was controlled for. No significant differences were found between trans men and any other group. MSPSS scores did not significantly predict SCL subscales but did predict both SF subscales and PWI total scores.


Trans women perceived themselves to be lacking social support. Given that social support is beneficial to quality of life and life satisfaction in those with gender dysphoria, this is of great concern. Though these findings have been derived from correlational results, extended research may highlight the value of clinicians helping trans women to seek out and maintain social support. Additionally, efforts could be made to educate and challenge attitudes of nontrans people towards those with gender dysphoria.


Depression; Gender Dysphoria; Psychological Well-Being; Social Support; Transgender; Transsexualism

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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