A scoping review of survey research with gender minority adolescents and youth in low and middl...

Isabel PIKE
Thoai D. NGO

Background Survey data that categorizes gender identity in binary terms and conflates sex and gender limits knowledge around the experience of gender minority populations, whose gender identity or expression does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. In this review, we outline the existing survey research on the experience of a gender minority demographic for whom there is particularly limited data: adolescents and youth in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Methods This paper is a scoping review of peer-reviewed articles, published in English, that use survey data to examine the experience of gender minority adolescents and youth in LMICs. We conducted a search on two major databases using key terms related to gender identity, adolescence and youth, and country and region. This search yielded 385 articles. Following a team-conducted review, we retained 33 articles for the final analysis. Results Our review shows that surveys with adolescents and youth in LMICs are increasingly including questions and taking sampling approaches that allow gender minority populations to be visible in survey data. Surveys that do so are largely focused in upper middle-income countries (n = 24), rather than lower middle-income or low-income countries, with South East Asia a notable sub-region of focus (n = 15). Sexual health, mental health, and violence are key topics of interest. Most of the surveys rely on some form of network-driven sampling focused on sexual and/or gender minorities (n = 22). The studies vary in how they ask about gender identity, both in terms of question formulation and the answer categories that are offered, as well as the extent to which they describe the questions in the article text. Conclusions This review reveals a growing body of work that provides important insights into the experiences of gender minority adolescents and youth in LMICs. More studies could integrate these approaches, but it must be done in a way that is thoughtful about cultural and political context. Given the relatively nascent nature of such research, we encourage scholars to continue providing details on methodology, including around participant recruitment and the development of gender identity questions. This information would be valuable for researchers seeking to better include gender minorities and their experiences in survey research, but who might be daunted methodologically.