Transgender and gender expansive emerging adults: the moderating role of thwarted belongingness on mental health

Keith J. Watts, Angela Matijczak, Camie A. Tomlinson, M. Alex Wagaman, Jennifer L. Murphy, Kelly O’Connor, Shelby E. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Transgender and gender expansive-emerging adults experience multiple forms of gender minority stress, which affect their mental health and wellbeing. Belongingness has been identified as a factor that fosters resilience among this population, with potential protective effects. Few studies have explored the role of thwarted belongingness and its potential moderating effect on the relation between gender minority stress and mental health. This study recruited a sample of 93 transgender and gender expansive emerging adults between the ages of 18 and 21 to examine whether thwarted belongingness significantly moderates the relation between gender minority stressors and mental health symptoms. We found evidence that thwarted belongingness moderates the relation between social rejection and depressive symptoms and the interaction effect between thwarted belongingness and victimisation was significantly associated with psychological stress. For these associations, high levels of thwarted belongingness amplified the positive relation between gender minority stress and mental health symptoms. At low levels of thwarted belongingness, the relation between rejection and depression was negative and the association between victimisation and psychological stress was no longer statistically significant. Findings suggest factors that minimise or interrupt thwarted belongingness among transgender and gender-expensive emerging adults may be points of intervention to improve mental health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-415
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology and Sexuality
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Gender minority stress
  • emerging adults
  • mental health
  • nonbinary
  • transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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