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Lived experiences of transgender forced migrants and their mental health outcomes: systematic review and meta-ethnography

Hermaszewska, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-7698-8295, Sweeney, A., Camminga, B. , Botelle, R., Elliott, K. & Sin, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-0590-7165 (2022). Lived experiences of transgender forced migrants and their mental health outcomes: systematic review and meta-ethnography. BJPsych Open, 8(3), E91. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2022.51


Owing to multiple, complex and intersecting health inequities, systemic oppression and violence and discrimination in their home countries, some transgender people are forced to migrate to countries that offer them better legal protection and wider social acceptance.

This review sought to explore and understand the multiple factors that shape the mental health outcomes of transgender forced migrants (TFMs).

We systematically searched nine electronic databases for multidisciplinary literature (PROSPERO ID: CRD42020183062). We used a meta-ethnographic approach to synthesise data. We completed a quality appraisal and developed a socio-ecological model to draw together our findings.

We retrieved 3399 records and screened titles, abstracts and full text to include 24 qualitative studies in this review. The synthesis identified individual survival strategies and factors in interpersonal, organisational and societal environments that contributed to profound deprivation and mental distress in TFMs. Pervasive and persistent violence and discrimination, economic exclusion, barriers to healthcare and a dependency on legal documentation were identified as key factors leading to poor mental health outcomes. Sources of resilience included community acceptance and support, being granted asylum, societal affirmation of gender, fulfilment of basic rights and healthcare access. Individual strategies for survival, such as hope and having purpose in life, were important in bringing relief from distress.

Improved communication and knowledge about the unique needs and concerns of TFMs through interventions at the individual, interpersonal, organisational and societal levels are necessary to improve mental health outcomes.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Qualitative research, refugee, migration, transgender, mental health
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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