Intersections between Body Image, Sexual Identity, and Sexual Well-Being among Gender-Diverse Youth

Authored by: Richard A. Brandon-Friedman , Rachel D. Snedecor , Virginia Ramseyer Winter

The Routledge International Handbook of Social Work and Sexualities

Print publication date:  July  2021
Online publication date:  July  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367358662
eBook ISBN: 9780429342912
Adobe ISBN:


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Body image, sexual identity, sexual well-being, and gender identity interact in complex ways in youths’ lives. While separate concepts, they inherently intertwine as each affects the other socially, emotionally, developmentally, and physically. Gender-diverse youth must navigate the development of their gender and sexual identities in a social environment that often stigmatizes them while also confronting gender dysphoria that can harm their body image. Disruptions in the development of gender and sexual identities and negative body image can lead to reduced levels of sexual well-being, which can negatively impact gender-diverse youths’ overall well-being. This chapter reviews literature regarding body image, sexual and gender identity development, and sexual well-being among gender-diverse youth, with a focus on how the four aspects of gender-diverse youths’ lives intersect. It concludes with recommendations for social work practice, education, and research so that social workers can be better attuned to gender-diverse youths’ complex gender-, sexuality-, and body image-based needs.

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