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Transgender Youth and Self-Harm


The problem of self-harm appears to be common in recent years, and many people are struggling to deal with it. The people who are inclined to self-harm can be almost everywhere. For instance, the study and work like many others. Moreover, sometimes such a person has relatives and friends who do not even guess about the problem. In order to learn how to cope with such a serious issue and prevent oneself from unwanted consequences, one should know about the causes and the symptoms of such a behavioral malady (Smith, 2010).


This paper defines the phenomenon of self-harm, explains the reasons for self-harm among contemporary youth, advises how to cope with it and how to recover from the consequences that the last one has caused (Scourfield, 2009).

The focus question of the study is: How does self-harm actually influence transgender youth that is experiencing a mental health problem?

Moreover, a few sub-questions follow from the mentioned topic question. They are:

  1. How to prevent self-harm among young people? How to protect them from themselves?
  2. What psychological and/or physical factors may cause self-harm among youngsters?
  3. Which signs will help one to indicate self-harm among young people?

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Aims and Objectives

The key aim of this study is to investigate the problem of self-harm among youth in general, to discover ways of slowing down self-harm among transgender young people in Australia, to analyze the relevant literature in this field of psychology and to propose a vision of the social problem (Hatzenbuehler, 2010).

Moreover, in order to accomplish the aforementioned aims, this very research proposal paper has to consider and analyze the relevant literature, extend current knowledge on the research topic and form a valuable contribution in the relevant field of psychology that studies the reasons, signs, and consequences of self-harm among youth (Jewkes, 2010).

Literature Review

After consolidating and analyzing various reports, articles, journals, books and other useful resources that cover self-harm issues among transgender youth in order to back up self-harm with Australian young people, several conclusions can be drawn (Jemmott, 2010).

For instance, Richard Liu, Ph.D. and Brian Mustanski, Ph.D., the specialists from the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of Brown University in their unique study highlighted the true importance of online support networks for transgender youth. This research paper provided a fundamental evaluation of protective and risk factors connected with the occurrence of suicidal ideas (O’Brien, 2010).

The second article was written by Jonathan Scourfield, Ph.D., Katrina Roen, Ph.D., and Liz McDermott, Ph.D., in their commonly written article that is particularly about possible transgender young people’s experiences of distress such as self-destructive behavior, ambivalence or resilience. In general, the mentioned article discovers four main themes: the need for ecology interventions, the need for sexual experience for partners, the importance of recognizing transgender suicide risk within the prevention policies, and the importance of appreciating the diversity of responses to life adversities (Furman, 2009).

The article emphasizes the fact that life is going on anyway and there are no excuses for making harm to oneself. Moreover, the authors write about the necessity for further researches on the topic due to the constantly increasing importance of the mentioned behavioral psychological sicknesses (Liu, 2012).

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In another article entitled “Depressive symptoms and suicidal behavior: changes with time in an adolescent clinic cohort” professors of the Sydney University of Notre Dame, Australia Dr. Jean Starling, Dr. Joseph Rey, and Dr. Judy Simpson provide a complex analysis of self-harm problem and the risks that it creates. Australian professors wrote about a specific tendency of increasing self-harm incidents among Australian youngsters with an increasing year of birth.

Furthermore, the authors report that neither parents nor children flaunt with their problems and/or fears, but on the contrary, they are trying to hide all the signs of self-harm under closes. For this reason, parents have to preserve the lives of their children and to provide sufficient attention to the way how they behave (Swanson, 2012).

In an article written by Jo Robinson, Sarah Hetrick and Cathy Martin for the “Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry”, a complete overview of the risks of self-harm was presented. This very paper has also enlightened the role of family values and their influence on the mental health of transgender youngsters. According to the article, transgender youth often experience harassment, abuse, and victimizations because of their sexual identity. On the contrary, those who are open about their inner feelings and sexual preferences in the majority of cases are abused and rejected by their friends and family. Therefore, such young people prefer to keep their feelings hidden inside. Unfortunately, such silence often leads to self-harm behavior, which in some cases can even become the reason of suicide (Spriggs, 2009).

In accordance with Richard Brown’s journal article entitled “Self-harm among young people”, the self-harm issue appears to be an increasing global concern of paramount importance. After having a systematic analysis of all the relevant literature, based on the proper evidence, Brown produces special guidelines for nurses (Edwards, 2007). These guidelines indicate mental health problems at a later life and are aimed to decrease the risks connected with self-harm and suicidal behavior. This paper presents a review of relevant literature connected with the current situation of self-harm among youth nowadays.



The interviews and questionnaires were held via the Internet on a special Australian forum for transgender self-injurers and their friends/family with anonymous help to them. For two weeks, 26 questionnaires were filled and nine interviews were received (Hillier, 2008). The questionnaires were designed and completed in cooperation with professional psychologists, so the acquired results showed the actual conditions of the transgender youth in Australia as truly as possible.

Despite the fact that all the participants were chosen randomly and referred by special services or leaflets, they are not a representative sample of all transgender young people in Australia. Nevertheless, the information acquired from the interviews and questionnaires is absolutely a valuable contribution to psychological studies oriented on the self-harm issues among youth (Volpe, 2010).


In addition to the mentioned methodology types of information collection, in this research paper, the method of the systematic literature review was used, as well. This method of analysis helped to discover and reveal some previously obscured essential aspects of self-harm psychological phenomenon.

On the one hand, a systematic literature review is an efficient scientific technique, which operates with significant quantities of needed information while on the other hand, this scientific activity is quite arduous and time-consuming (Janis, 2009).

However, except for the mentioned literature analysis, great benefits were acquired from the interviews and questionnaires from the Internet. In addition, a great amount of useful information was collected. For instance, questionnaires have shown that all the participants have serious problems in their lives. As the interviews and questionnaires have shown, it is quite common that young people suffering from self-harm feel disoriented, unwanted and even scared. Obviously, they just need moral support and protection.


This research project involved such qualitative methods as a literature review, questionnaires, and interviews with focus groups of young people aged 17–24 years. The main reason why these methods were chosen was the ease of use and high efficiency. Describing the research procedure, the mentioned techniques were used simultaneously and in parallel Comfort, 20.

The systematic literature review consisted of such stages as data collection, organization and obtaining the necessary conclusions as a result. The stages of questionnaires and interviews can be also divided into three stages: the stage of forum creation, the questionnaires and interviews organization and the stage of results analysis.

Ethical Issues

Considering the potential ethical issues that were conducted during the research, the following requirements should be met:

  1. Voluntary participation, no one is forced.
  2. The balance of beneficence and no maleficence according to which the benefits and risks of treatment must directly influence every medical decision-making. Nonetheless, the potential benefits of any intervention must outweigh the risks in order for the issue to be ethical.

Originally, the principle of ‘no maleficence’ means to “do no harm”. The question of its usage arises in clinical conditions in cases connected with people who harm themselves because in such cases, any pain the patients feel can cause an unwanted backlash. Therefore, the balance of these principles is the ultimate choice for people to suffer from self-harm (Suicide Prevention Australia, 2009).

  1. Also, such principles as anonymity and confidentiality must be absolutely preserved in order to protect patients from unwanted harassment.
  2. Moreover, especially important appears to be the security principle, in accordance with which all the acquired information must be gathered in safe places, with no access to unauthorized individuals.
  3. All the participants must be informed far enough in advance about the way how the provided information will be used so that they would still have enough time to abandon the session. However, there must be no deceptions with the participants about their self-harm issues and the information concerning it.
  4. After the research is complete, all the participants will be informed about the results that are directly connected with them. The information will be provided in a delicate manner so that the participants would not be harmed.
  5. All the acquired information will not be disclosed to anyone except the patient.
  6. Such ethical limitations as the age of the respondents and their agreement for the usage of information that they have provided must be preserved.

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Contribution of the Proposed Study to the Field

After the proper analysis of all the acquired information, a list of reasons why young people harm themselves, and in particular, the transgender youth was created. The term “transgender” refers to those whose gender self-identification does not match one’s assigned sex. Obviously, such people have many more reasons for being harassed or insulted, and therefore, the incidents of self-harm among such young people are much more common (Lynam, 2011).

By hurting themselves, young people say that they can more easily cope with the pain they feel. Generally, self-harm youth treat physical pain as a way to deal with intense emotional pain by distracting themselves.

However, to avoid the incidents of self-harm, such people must have proper attention from friends or relatives and moral support. There is no doubt that even simple words of support could prevent the harm that these young people make for themselves by cutting, burning, scalding and other ways of experiencing physical pain (Oas, 2013). However, as the interviews showed, young people want to stop harm themselves, but they are not able to do this on their own because, in their situations, even simple life issues can cause new cuts. For these reasons, such people need special supervision from their friends/families.

Project Timeline

In total, the work on this project took me ten weeks. During the first four weeks of my research proposal, I was gaining authority from the ACA ethics committee, studying and analyzing various research papers, articles, journals, and books. Then, for about 7 days, I was organizing a special web site for people suffering from self-harm and wanting to get free help online where I found 3 transgender and 3 non-transgender young people needed for the research. Each of them was questioned and interviewed, and the acquired information was collected and analyzed during the next two days. For the next three days, I was writing this report, and to get the special authorization from the Ethics Committee for this report, I have spent more than 4 weeks.

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