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Association of Chest Dysphoria With Anxiety and Depression in Transmasculine and Nonbinary Adolescents Seeking Gender-Affirming Care

Rachita Sood, Diane Chen, Abigail L. Muldoon, Liqi Chen, Mary J. Kwasny, Lisa K. Simons, Noopur Gangopadhyay, Julia F. Corcoran, Sumanas W. Jordan

Journal of Adolescent Health

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the existence and strength of association between chest dysphoria and mental health in transmasculine and nonbinary adolescents.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional cohort study of transmasculine and nonbinary adolescents designated female at birth between 12 and 18 years old. None had undergone prior top surgery. Patients complete the Chest Dysphoria Measure and Youth Inventory-4 (YI-4) upon presentation to our institution. Outcomes were retrospectively reviewed. The primary outcome of interest was the association between chest dysphoria and anxiety and depression symptom severity, as measured by the YI-4.

Results: One hundred fifty-six patients met inclusion criteria. Mean age was 15.3 years (standard deviation [SD] = 1.7). Most patients identified as transmasculine (n = 132); 18 identified as nonbinary and 6 as questioning. Mean (SD) YI-4 symptom severity scores were 10.67 (6.64) for anxiety and 11.99 (7.83) for depression. Mean (SD) Chest Dysphoria Measure composite score was 30.15 (9.95); range 2–49. Chest dysphoria was positively correlated with anxiety (r = .146; p = .002) and depression (r = .207; p < .001). In multivariate linear regression models, chest dysphoria showed a significant, positive association with anxiety and depression, after accounting for gender dysphoria, degree of appearance congruence, and social transition status.

Conclusions: Chest dysphoria is associated with higher anxiety and depression in transmasculine and nonbinary adolescents designated female at birth. This association is independent of level of gender dysphoria, degree of appearance congruence, and social transition status. Treatment options aimed at alleviating chest dysphoria should be made accessible to adolescents and tailored to individual needs.

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