Arcelus et al NSSI and youth 2016.pdf (153.51 kB)

Risk factors for non suicidal self injury among trans youth

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journal contribution
posted on 22.01.2016, 09:58 by Jon Arcelus, L. Claes, Gemma Witcomb, E. Marshall, Walter P. Bouman
Background: 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. Aims: To explore the prevalence of NSSI in a large group of young trans people, and to identify risk factors for this group. Main Outcome Measures: Socio-demographic variables and measures of NSSI (The Self-Injury Questionnaire), Psychopathology (Symptom Checklist 90 Revised), Self-esteem (Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale), victimization (Experiences of transphobic victimization), Interpersonal functioning (Inventory of Interpersonal Problems) and social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support). Methods: Two hundred and 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. Results: A life-time presence of NSSI was identified in 46.3% of patients and 28.73% reported currently engaging in NSSI (within at least the last few months). Analyses showed that those with a life-time 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 versus non-current NSSI. Overall, natal males reported less social support than natal females, but current NSSI was more common in natal females. Regression analyses confirmed that natal female gender and greater general psychopathology predicted both current and life-time 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. Conclusions: These findings confirm that NSSI is common in trans youth and emphasise the need for interventions, which decrease transphobia, increase social support and help trans youth navigate their relationships with others in order to reduce psychopathology and NSSI.



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Journal of Sexual Medicine


ARCELUS, J. al., 2016. Risk factors for non suicidal self injury among trans youth. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 13 (3), pp. 402-412.


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AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This paper was accepted for publication in the Journal of Sexual Medicine and the definitive published version is available at