Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences




During the last decade, there has been a significant increase in visibility of transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) individuals, particularly in Western cultures. However, this increase in visibility has also prompted a concomitant surge in hate crimes and violence against TGNC persons and anti-TGNC legislation throughout the United States. Extant research, framed largely by Meyer’s minority stress model, has shown that TGNC persons experience greater rates of psychological distress, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation and intent when compared to cisgender and lesbian, gay, and bisexual peers. Furthermore, TGNC students in higher education face specific challenges with regard to campus facilities, housing, athletics, management of their preferred gender identity, and scholarly research. Mental health professionals with explicitly stated ethical imperatives toward advancing diversity, multiculturalism, and social change are uniquely positioned to advocate on behalf of TNGC higher education students. The purpose of this scholarly essay is to summarize challenges faced by TGNC students and to identify specific ways that mental health professionals can effect change on the campus, in the classroom, in research, and in direct service.