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Resilient Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth: The Protective Role of Sibling Relationships and Family Environment on Well-Being

T. Zachary Huit, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Sibling relationships are often overlooked in family contexts and can serve as protective relationships for youth, leading to more positive outcomes (Feinberg et al., 2013). Further, supportive family environments are associated with better academic outcomes, greater self-esteem, and lower internalizing symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety; Milevsky & Levitt, 2005; Walsh, 2012; Widmer & Weiss, 2000; Wojciak et al., 2013). However, there is limited knowledge regarding the impacts of sibling and family relationships for transgender and gender diverse youth (TGDY) specifically. TGDY families are unique in that they must manage complex relational and social structures within and outside of their families while supporting their transgender youth. While ecological influences have been widely accepted related to impacts on youth and family development generally (Bronfenbrenner, 2005) and have been applied to TGDY more broadly (e.g., Craig et al., 2015; Singh et al., 2011), further in-depth examination of the reciprocal influence of TGDY, sibling, and family environments is needed. As family support has been demonstrated to buffer negative outcomes and increase family resiliency (Katz-Wise et al., 2018), and siblings being important sources of support (Hilton & Szymanski, 2011) for TGDY, further investigation regarding impacts of TGDY family resiliency is of utmost importance. While some studies to date have examined sibling relationships for TGD-youth specifically (e.g., D’Augelli et al., 2008; Wheeler et al., 2019), there is a need to integrate the perspectives of TGDY, siblings, and caregivers to further understand associations with family resiliency. Relatedly, there is a need to consider the social environment surrounding these family systems to contextualize influences on TGDY and sibling relationships. The proposed research addresses the methodological limitations of previous research with TGDY and siblings in addition to providing salient avenues for more nuanced understanding of how sibling relationships, family dynamics, and socioenvironmental context relate to TGDY well-being and resiliency. This study provides the necessary background to highlight the need for future programmatic research and potential intervention frameworks.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Psychology|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Huit, T. Zachary, "Resilient Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth: The Protective Role of Sibling Relationships and Family Environment on Well-Being" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30575825.