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Understanding Online Resource Use by Transgender Youth and Caregivers: A Qualitative Study.

Evans YN, Gridley SJ, Crouch J, Wang A, Moreno MA, Ahrens K, Breland DJ. Understanding Online Resource Use by Transgender Youth and Caregivers: A Qualitative Study. Transgender health. 2017 Aug 1; 2(1):129-139.

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Purpose: This study assessed what online resources transgender youth and their caregivers use to acquire information about transgender health. Methods: Through a variety of settings, including subspecialty clinics, support groups, and online solicitation, we recruited caregivers of transgender youth aged 22 years or younger and self-identified transgender youth aged 14-22 years. We used a mixed methods approach of conducting in-person focus groups, interviews in person or through phone, and an online survey that allowed for increased flexibility for participants and to triangulate key themes from multiple data sources. Scripts were semistructured, and prompts were focused on resources accessed by transgender youth and their caregivers. Results: We had a total of 65 participants, including 50 caregivers and 15 youth. Five main themes emerged from participants on why they sought out information on the Internet and what they found in their online searches. These themes include (1) exploring gender identity, (2) filling knowledge gaps, (3) seeking support networks, (4) finding transgender-friendly providers, and (5) encountering misinformation. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate the need for reliable trustworthy content online, the importance of the virtual community to support both youth and caregivers, and the challenge of navigating misinformation that is often faced by transgender youth as they navigate online resources. We propose partnering with professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics or World Professional Association of Transgender Health, to promote evidence-based guidelines, position statements, and online information on healthcare for transgender youth.

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