School for Social Work
This exploratory study aimed to investigate rates of trauma and posttraumatic stress in the lives of transgender individuals and to gather data on this population's accessing of mental health services and willingness to disclose trauma history in therapy. It was hypothesized that as a marginalized population, transgender individuals are at increased risk for victimization and posttraumatic stress. It was also hypothesized that while a high number of transgender individuals access mental health services, many choose not to disclose trauma history to a therapist. A web-based anonymous survey of trauma history, posttraumatic stress, and disclosure of trauma history in therapy was implemented to test this hypothesis. Using snowball and convenience sampling techniques, 300 transgender individuals from Washington, DC and 39 different states across the US were recruited to participate in the research project. Participants experienced a range of different types of trauma across the lifespan, and one in four participants in this study met criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most participants had talked to a mental health care professional about an experience of trauma or violence, and many chose not to disclose trauma history to a therapist for a variety of reasons including lack of trust and fear of not being granted a letter of recommendation for gender reassignment services. Implications for policy and practice are considered in this research report.
Wharton, Virginia Wyatt, "Gender variance and mental health : a national survey of transgender trauma history, posttraumatic stress, and disclosure in therapy" (2007). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.