Gender minority stress in education: Protecting trans children’s mental health in UK schools

Horton, Cal. 2022. Gender minority stress in education: Protecting trans children’s mental health in UK schools. International Journal of Transgender Health, ISSN 2689-5269 [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

Background: Trans children are known to experience challenges in education, in schools under-prepared for trans inclusion. Research on trans people’s mental health has shown an association between experiences of Gender Minority Stress (GMS) and poor mental health, though the GMS framework has not been applied to trans children’s experiences in education.

Aims: This article examines trans children’s experiences of GMS in primary and early secondary education (ages 3–13 years old) in UK schools. The study aimed to uncover opportunities for protective action to safeguard trans children’s mental health.

Methods: The GMS framework was applied to a rich qualitative dataset drawn from semi-structured interviews with 10 trans children and 30 parents of trans children average age 11 years-old (range 6–16). Data were analyzed through reflexive thematic analysis.

Results: The research highlighted the diverse ways in which GMS manifests in primary and secondary education. Trans children in the UK experienced a wide range of trans-specific stressors, putting children under chronic strain.

Discussion: Schools need to recognize the range of potential stresses experienced by trans pupils in education. Poor mental health in trans children and adolescents is avoidable, and schools have a duty of care to ensure trans pupils are physically and emotionally safe and welcome at school. Preventative early action to reduce GMS is needed to protect trans children, safeguarding the mental health of vulnerable pupils.

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Additional Information:

This study was conducted as part of the author’s PhD. The PhD was self-funded, with a Goldsmiths University of London Department of Education bursary covering half of the PhD fees.


Children; education; Gender Minority Stress; parent; qualitative research; schools; transgender

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


8 June 2022Published Online

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Date Deposited:

21 Jun 2022 11:10

Last Modified:

21 Jun 2022 13:48

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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