Uncovering associations between gender nonconformity, psychosocial factors, and mental health in adolescents: A birth cohort study

Zui Narita, Jordan Devylder, Syudo Yamasaki, Shuntaro Ando, Kaori Endo, Mitsuhiro Miyashita, Satoshi Yamaguchi, Satoshi Usami, Daniel Stanyon, Gemma Knowles, Mariko Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, Toshiaki A. Furukawa, Kiyoto Kasai, Atsushi Nishida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Little information is available on the association between gender nonconformity during adolescence and subsequent mental health. While the distress related to gender nonconformity may be socially produced rather than attributed to individual-level factors, further research is needed to better understand the role of psychosocial factors in this context. Method We analyzed data from the Tokyo Teen Cohort, obtained through random sampling of adolescents born between 2002 and 2004. We used inverse probability weighting to examine the association of gender nonconformity at ages 12 and 14 as a time-varying variable with subsequent mental health at age 16, while accounting for time-fixed and time-varying confounders. Furthermore, we used a weighting approach to investigate the mediating role of modifiable psychosocial factors in this association, addressing exposure-mediator and mediator-mediator interactions. Results A total of 3171 participants were analyzed. Persistent gender nonconforming behavior at ages 12 and 14 was associated with subsequent depression (β = 2.02, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.85 to 3.19) and psychotic experiences (β = 0.33, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.52) at age 16. The results remained robust in sensitivity analyses. Approximately 30% of the association between gender nonconformity and depression was consistently mediated by a set of psychosocial factors, namely loneliness, bullying victimization, and relationships with mother, father, and friends. Conclusions Persistent gender nonconformity during adolescence is associated with subsequent mental health. Psychosocial factors play a vital mediating role in this association, highlighting the essential need for social intervention and change to reduce stigmatization and ameliorate mental health challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)921-930
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 18 2024


  • adolescence
  • anxiety
  • child
  • effect modifier
  • gender identity
  • major depressive disorder
  • mediation analysis
  • psychiatry
  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia
  • social isolation
  • transgender persons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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