If a person identifies themselves as transgender, this means that their gender identity and/or expression does not match the sex that they were when they were born (Arcelus et al., 2018). There are many studies that have tested to see if transgender individuals tend to get more depressed than other individuals. Being transgender growing up can cause one to get bullied more and they also tend to have more peer rejection. Even the individual’s family sometimes rejects them (Arcelus et al., 2018). All of these things can cause trouble within their life time causing them to feel hopeless and empty (De Pedro et al., 2018). Since most transgender individuals feel rejected, they sometimes depend on social media to help them feel accepted (Avera et al., 2017).
The study done by Arcelus et al., tests untreated treatment seeking transgender individuals and individuals that take cross sex hormones to see if they have higher depression levels than people that are not transgender and who do not take cross-sex hormones. Individuals that take cross-sex hormones are trying to either make their bodies more feminine or more masculine (Arcelus et al., 2018). Today, more and more people are becoming transgender.
Depression has known to be more common in the LGBTQ community (Arcelus et al., 2018). People in this group tend to have a higher stress level and anxiety level due to the fact that a large amount of them experience harassment and abuse throughout their whole lifetime (Arcelus et al., 2018). This study conducted by Arcelus and colleagues consisted of a large sample of people that considered themselves as transgender (a little over a thousand of them). Before coming to participate in the study, every participant was sent multiple questionnaire packets and consent forms. Only a very small percentage of individuals rejected to perform in the study. The control group within this study included many males and females that were not transgender about the same ages as the transgender population.
There were many scales within this study to measure to see if any of the individuals had any presence of depression. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale measured the depression levels of the participants when they were in a clinic. The scale is composed of a numbers that range from 0 to 21, with 0-7 showing no symptoms, 8-10 having possible symptoms, and scores of 11 or higher shows that they have a great possibility of having depression symptoms. The scale goes all the way up to 21 with 21 being the maximum amount of depression (Arcelus et al., 2018). There were many other scales used to test the participants such as The Rosen SE Scale, The Experiences of Transgender Phobia Scale, The Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, and The Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (Arcelus et al., 2018).
To figure out all of the information, the data was entered into SPSS. For the first aim, the researchers compared the transgender participants not taking the cross-sex hormone drug with the control group. Areclus et al., (2018) found out that trans genders not taking the drug scored significantly higher on the depression symptoms side than the control group. The next aim of this study was to compare the transgender individuals taking the cross-sex hormone drug, and the trans genders not taking the drug. They actually found out that the people taking the drug showed less signs of depression than those not taking the drug (Arcelus et al., 2018), which was found to be very surprising. Overall, is it shown that more trans genders fall into the depressed category over the control group.
Talking about suicide in different individuals can be a tough topic to discuss. Different studies have shown that transgender people have higher rates of attempting suicide than their peers. Mental health problems can also be more of a problem within the trans gender population due to the fact that they grow up confused with their gender expressions (De Pedro et al., 2018). Many of these individuals that experience mental health issues tend to want to attempt suicide more commonly (De Pedro et al., 2018).
The next study conducted by De Pedro and colleagues start by collecting a sample of almost 5000 youth of all different races that identified themselves as transgender. Consent was given from almost all of the children’s parents for them to participate in this study. This study measured different things, with the first one being perceived peer victimization (De Pedro et al., 2018). A survey was given to each of the participants asking them how many times in the past year that they have been bullied. They were also given the definition of bullying so they knew exactly what it meant. The questions on the survey were asked like this: “how many times have you been physically bullied such as getting pushed, slapped, kicked, or hit by someone while you were at school?” or “had rumors/lies spread about you?”. The participants chose either zero times, one time, two to three times, or more than four times (De Pedro et al., 2018).
The next factors measured were depression, suicidal ideation, and missing any school because of distress. The survey to assess depression asked questions to see if any time in the last 12 months that they have missed school due to being very sad, depressed, or hopeless. The options for answers were yes or no (De Pedro et al., 2018). They were then asked if they felt safe at their school, and if they felt close with their peers. Another question that was asked was if they have ever tried to harm themselves in the past year due to feeling hopeless. The answers to this question were also either yes or no. Once again, all of the data was entered into SPSS to analyze it. After the questionnaires were filled out, missing data occurred. This is due to the fact that people fail to respond or decline to fill out the true answers. The reason this is an issue is because people may be scared to answer truthfully because they do not want to be judged by whoever sees their answers (De Pedro et al., 2018).
This study shows that forty-one percent of the children said that they felt suicidal in the past year. This is a very high percentage, making this also very shocking and very sad to think about. Almost fifty percent said that they have felt very sad and hopeless almost every day for at least 2 weeks or more within the past year. Nineteen percent said that they have missed school because they have felt anxious, distressed or angry. Finally, about thirty-three percent of the children said that they have been bullied because of their gender status (De Pedro et al., 2018). This study is consistent with its hypothesis showing that peer victimization is correlated with greater mental health issues within all transgender youth (De Pedro et al., 2018).
The use of social media has a huge impact on each and every one of us. When it comes to transgender people using it, this can either be an impactful thing or it can end up causing people to cyber bully the transgender individuals. Many transgender people reach out to social media to find support for themselves, and help with guidance when it comes to their transitioning (Avera et al., 2017). In a qualitative study done by Avera et al., (2018), interview a hand full of participants to see how social media has affected them. The sample that was chosen was only five. The ages of the individuals were between 31 and 53. To start off, each person was interviewed over the phone and were asked many questions such as: “tell me about your experience with the media” and “what have been some risks of having social media while being transgender?” (Avera et al., 2017). Many other questions were asked related to these topics.
What the researchers found was that the individuals used social media as a path to their self and authenticity (Avera et al., 2017). Many of these people found so many great online groups that supported them through their process. “All of the people within the online group were so accepting and supportive” says Janice, a male to female participant. Other participants said it is a great source to read about other people’s transformations just to see that they are not alone. Also, many people used social media to help with beauty tips (many male to female individuals).
When it comes to real life, transgender individuals cannot control what is being said to them, or what is being done to them. While on every social media website, they can block what people say and what gets put on their page (Avera et al., 2017). This is another reason why they use social media. “I was still continuing to take my cross-sex hormone drugs even though my parents did not know. I used social media to represent myself and to express who I really was.” This participant was scared of their parent’s punishments so they went to social media for comfort.
There were some limitations within this study such as a very small sample size. This could have only shown the researchers that social media is only good for those five people, but if they took another five-person sample size and did a study with them, social media may have a negative impact on them. It is all about the amount of sample size and it also depends on the person (Avera et al., 2017).
Overall, this study was done to see how social media affects trans genders and what role social media plays in their lives. It is more of a positive aspect in their lives than a negative one which is surprising because sometimes these people can get cyberbullied, but as a participant stated in past discussion, they can block what is being posted on their pages. For transgender to ignore cyberbulling, all they have to do is to protect their boundaries on social media (Avera et al., 2017).
In conclusion, there are many studies that have been done when it comes to trans gender individuals. It has been shown that they have a higher depression level than their peers a higher chance of being bullied, and a higher chance of attempting suicide. There have also been studies done to see how social media impacts their life. Social media is actually their place to go to when they feel hopeless or rejected.
Arcelus, J. et al., (2018). Levels of depression in transgender people and its predictors: Results
of a large matched control study with transgender people accessing clinical services. Journal of Affective Disorders, 235, 308-315. doi: 10.1016
Avera, J. et al., (2017). Transition, Connection, Disconnection, and Social Media: Examining the
Digital Lived Experiences of Transgender Individuals. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, 11:2, 68-87. doi: 10.1080
De Pedro, K. T. et al., (2018). Minority Stress Among Transgender Adolescents: The Role of
Peer Victimization, School Belonging, and Ethnicity. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1-10. doi: 10.1007