Family support and discrimination and their relationship to psychological distress and resilience amongst transgender people

Kimberly A. Fuller, Damien W. Riggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Given the broader social contexts in which transgender people and their families live, the latter can be either an important source of support, or bring with them yet another source of discrimination. Although historically transgender people almost uniformly experienced discrimination from families of origin, recent research suggests that growing numbers of transgender people are supported by their families. Aims: The study reported in this article sought to examine the relationships between family support and discrimination, and psychological distress and resilience. Methods: A convenience sample of 345 transgender people living in North America completed an online questionnaire constructed by the authors. The questionnaire included demographic questions and single items questions about emotional closeness to family, gender-related support from family, and discrimination from family. The questionnaire also included standardized measures of gender-related discrimination, resiliency, social support, and psychological distress. Results: Participants reported moderate levels of gender-related family support, with non-binary participants reporting the lowest levels of gender-related family support. Participants whose families provided greater gender-related support reported greater resilience and lower levels of psychological distress; however participants who reported higher levels of gender-related discrimination from their families reported greater psychological distress. The findings suggest that emotional closeness to family may help mitigate the effects of general discrimination on psychological distress. Discussion: Drawing on the findings reported, the paper concludes by discussing the importance of focusing on family members in the context of affirming clinical approaches to working with transgender adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-388
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Transgenderism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2018


  • Discrimination
  • family
  • psychological distress
  • resilience
  • support
  • transgender


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