Video Abstract

Video Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Identity formation and exploration of interpersonal relationships are important tasks that occur during adolescence. Transgender, gender diverse, and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) individuals must face these developmental milestones in the context of their transgender identity. Our aim with this article is to describe adolescents’ history and experiences with romantic partners.

METHODS:

We conducted phenomenological, qualitative semistructured interviews with transgender adolescents. Questions were focused on romantic experiences, thoughts, and perceptions. All interviews were coded by 2 members of the research team, with disagreements resolved by discussion and, if needed, with a third member of the research team. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data, as well as descriptive categorization.

RESULTS:

In total, 30 adolescents (18 transmasculine and 12 transfeminine) between the ages of 15 and 20 years were interviewed. Themes included (1) engagement in romantic relationships, (2) disclosure of gender identity and romantic relationships, (3) experience with abusive relationships, and (4) perceived impact of gender-affirming hormone care on romantic experiences.

CONCLUSIONS:

TGNC adolescents are engaged in romantic experiences before and during social and/or medical transitioning and are cultivating relationships through both proximal peers and online connections. There is perceived benefit of gender-affirming hormone care on romantic experiences. Risk of transphobia in romantic relationships impacts the approach that transgender adolescents take toward romance and influences decisions of identity disclosure. TGNC adolescents have experience with relationship abuse in different forms. Providers can incorporate these findings in their approach to counseling and screening when caring for TGNC youth.

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