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The Development of an Online Intervention to Increase Supportive Behaviors Among Parents of Transgender Youth


Parental support plays a vital role in protecting trans youth from mental health risks including depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicide (Olson, Durwood, DeMeules, & McLaughlin, 2016; Simons, Schrager, Clark, Belzer, & Olson, 2013). Additionally, parents of trans youth experience distress themselves when learning their child is transgender and may experience worry, anxiety, guilt, and grief (Dierckx, Motmans, Mortelmans, & T’sjoen, 2016). This study examined the acceptability and feasibility of the Parent Support Program, an online intervention aimed at 1. decreasing parental distress and feelings of isolation, 2. increasing knowledge about gender diversity and empathy towards transgender youth, and 3. increasing intentions and self-efficacy to engage in transgender affirming behaviors. The intervention was developed based on previous research on the experiences and needs of parents of trans youth, theories of behavior change, and feedback from two focus groups with parents of transgender youth and experts in transgender mental health. The Parent Support Program includes three modules with psychoeducational text, affirming images, educational videos, videos of parents and trans youth, writing activities, and interactive quizzes. The pilot study found that the intervention was highly acceptable and provided helpful information on how to improve the feasibility of the intervention and conducting a larger efficacy study. Improvements include making the intervention more tailored and changing the online platform to decrease technical issues. Additionally, recruitment strategies will be adjusted to increase the credibility of the program and reach parents with less pre-existing support. Implications for future research andpractice with this population are discussed.

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