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Feb 29, 2016 10:54 PM EST

Transgender kids skip anxiety with family support

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A new study reports that young children who live openly as transgender and are supported by their families seem no more anxious or depressed than other children, NBC News reports.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

"The thinking has always been that kids who are not acting gender-stereotypically are basically destined to have mental health problems," said Kristina Olson of the University of Washington, who led the study.

"In our study, that's not the case."

The researchers said that the absence of anxiety and depression in transgender children could be attributed to support and acceptance.

Earlier reports had indicated that transgender individuals in the United States often had high rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide.

For the study, Olson's team studied 73 kids aged 3 to 12.

They study revealed that transgender kids averaged an anxiety score of 50.1 on a National Institutes of Health scale that was the same as the national norm of 50.

Thomas Coughlin, a staff psychotherapist and transgender health advocate at Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, D.C., said

"There are some things we can do to support trans kids and trans adults that aren't as scary for folks," Coughlin told NBC News.

"People have a big fear of irreversible changes and what if this is a mistake? How does this person know this is going on? Allowing them to move through it on their own without ridicule or judgment in those kind of ways in terms of expression."

"There is not one way to transition. It is not in a linear path that people take," said Coughlin, who himself transitioned from female gender in 2000.

"It's about exploring gender and your comfort. It's really about meeting a person where they are and supporting them in whatever that means to them in terms of gender."

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