Transgender identity and experiences of sexual harassment in adolescence

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Gender-diverse adolescents have reported excessive experiences of sexual harassment, but studies on this are few and suffer from methodological problems. Our aim was to compare experiences of sexual harassment between adolescents belonging to different gender-identity groups. A nationally representative cross-sectional survey of 127,210 adolescents aged 14–20 in Finland in 2017 was used. The respondents were pupils in the eighth and ninth grades of the compulsory nine-year comprehensive school with mean (sd) age of 14.83 (0.82) years and students in upper secondary school (age: mean (sd) 16.84 (0.83) years) and vocational school (17.29 (2.43) years). Cisgender, opposite sex-identifying and non-binary adolescents were compared. Self-reports of experiences of sexual harassment, emotional symptoms and externalising behaviours (bullying perpetration, frequent alcohol use, truancy, drug use) were elicited. The data were analysed using cross-tabulations and logistic regression. When confounders were controlled for, odds ratios were increased for gender harassment (OR 2.0), unwelcome sexual attention (OR 1.7) and sexual coercion (OR 2.0) among adolescents with non-binary gender identity, and for gender harassment (OR 2.1) among those identifying with the opposite sex. Subjection to sexual harassment is particularly associated with non-binary gender identity. This may reflect that others use sexual harassment as a form of control of gender-nonconforming self-expression.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • adolescence
  • gender identity
  • sexual harassment
  • transgender

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Law


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