Supporting sexual health of transgender and gender diverse youth

News from the Center for Adolescent Nursing

November 2, 2021

Camille Brown

Camille Brown

Recent societal discourse about gender has led to greater recognition of the health disparities experienced by transgender and gender diverse (TGD) youth. These disparities are present across physical, mental, social and sexual health domains. For instance, TGD high school students are more likely to report dating relationship violence and risky sexual behaviors than their cisgender peers.

A potential contributor to sexual health disparities is a lack of sexuality education that includes experiences of TGD youth. As with other adolescents, communication about sex and relationships between TGD youth and their parents represents an important aspect of sexuality education. However, parents and youth may struggle to communicate effectively when a young person’s experiences related to sex and relationships differs from cisnormative and heteronormative expectations, as may be the case with TGD youth.

Assistant Professor Camille Brown’s research seeks to understand TGD youth’s experiences with parental communication about sex and relationships. In a study published in 2021 in GLBT Family Studies, Brown, PhD, RN, PHN, LSN, and colleagues explored TGD youth’s perspectives on parental messaging about sex and relationships. Eight transgender or gender diverse young people from the Twin Cities area participated in in-depth interviews discussing family communication about sexuality. “The young people I spoke with clearly described how certain aspects of messaging they received from their parents regarding sexuality could compromise their sexual health and development of healthy relationships,” says Brown. Findings support efforts to broaden access to inclusive sexuality education for TGD youth and their parents.