Psychological functioning in adolescents referred to specialist gender identity clinics across Europe: a clinical comparison study between four clinics

Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Polly Carmichael, Annelou L. C. de Vries, Karlien Dhondt, Jolien Laridaen, Dagmar Pauli, Juliane Ball, Thomas D. Steensma

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71 Citations (Scopus)


Adolescents seeking professional help with their gender identity development often present with psychological difficulties. Existing literature on psychological functioning of gender diverse young people is limited and mostly bound to national chart reviews. This study examined the prevalence of psychological functioning and peer relationship problems in adolescents across four European specialist gender services (The Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, and Switzerland), using the Child Behavioural Checklist (CBCL) and the Youth Self-Report (YSR). Differences in psychological functioning and peer relationships were found in gender diverse adolescents across Europe. Overall, emotional and behavioural problems and peer relationship problems were most prevalent in adolescents from the UK, followed by Switzerland and Belgium. The least behavioural and emotional problems and peer relationship problems were reported by adolescents from The Netherlands. Across the four clinics, a similar pattern of gender differences was found. Birth-assigned girls showed more behavioural problems and externalising problems in the clinical range, as reported by their parents. According to self-report, internalising problems in the clinical range were more prevalent in adolescent birth-assigned boys. More research is needed to gain a better understanding of the difference in clinical presentations in gender diverse adolescents and to investigate what contextual factors that may contribute to this.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)909-919
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number7
Early online date18 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Behavioural problems
  • Gender diverse adolescents
  • Gender identity
  • Peer relations
  • Psychological functioning

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