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J Sex Med. 2016 Mar;13(3):402-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.01.003.

Risk Factors for Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Among Trans Youth.

Author information

Nottingham Centre for Gender Dysphoria, Nottingham, UK; Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. Electronic address:
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (CAPRI), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.
School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.
Nottingham Centre for Gender Dysphoria, Nottingham, UK; School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.
Nottingham Centre for Gender Dysphoria, Nottingham, UK.



Previous research has reported high levels of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in trans populations and younger age has been identified as a risk factor.


To explore the prevalence of NSSI in a large group of young trans people and to identify risk factors for this group.


Sociodemographic variables and measurements of NSSI (Self-Injury Questionnaire), psychopathology (Symptom Checklist-90-Revised), self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale), victimization (Experiences of Transphobia Scale), interpersonal functioning (Inventory of Interpersonal Problems), and social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support).


Two hundred sixty-eight young people attending a national gender clinic completed questionnaires assessing presence and frequency of NSSI and levels of general psychopathology, depression, anxiety, interpersonal problems, self-esteem, social support, transphobia, and information on hormone treatment.


A lifetime presence of NSSI was identified in 46.3% of patients and 28.73% reported currently engaging in NSSI (within at least the past few months). Analyses showed that those with a lifetime presence of NSSI had significantly greater general psychopathology, lower self-esteem, had suffered more transphobia, and experienced greater interpersonal problems than those without NSSI. Findings were similar when comparing current with non-current NSSI. Overall, natal male patients reported less social support than natal female patients, but current NSSI was more common in natal female patients. Regression analyses confirmed that natal female gender and greater general psychopathology predicted current and lifetime NSSI. Further analyses confirmed that general psychopathology itself could be predicted by transphobic experiences, low self-esteem, and interpersonal problems, but not by the use of cross-sex hormones.


These findings confirm that NSSI is common in trans youth and emphasize the need for interventions that decrease transphobia, increase social support, and help trans youth navigate their relationships with others to decrease psychopathology and NSSI.


Gender Dysphoria; Non-Suicidal Self-Injury; Psychopathology; Suicide; Trans; Transgender; Transsexual; Young People; Youth

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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