Transgender-specific developmental milestones and associated experiences of violence, discrimination, and stigma among Filipinx transgender women who are sexually active with men

Arjee J. Restar, Aaron S. Breslow, Harry Jin, Ma Irene Quilantang, Olivia Sison, Amiel Nazer Bermudez, Maylin Palatino, Alexander Adia, Susan Cu-Uvin, Don Operario, Jennifer Nazareno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background For transgender people, reaching transgender (trans)-specific developmental milestones, including recognizing and expressing one s identity, plays an integral role in overall health, wellbeing, and the pursuit of gender affirmation. Yet trans people continue to face minority stressors, including structural violence (i.e., discrimination, violence, and stigma), which may interfere with the achievement of these milestones. Among trans women specifically, however, potential associations between gender developmental milestones and structural violence are not well characterized in the literature. In a sample of Filipinx (i.e., an inclusive term for describing non-binary genders in the Philippines) trans women who are sexually active with men (trans-WSM), we thus sought to: (a) describe the mean ages at which gender developmental milestones occur and (b) examine the associations between structural violence and mean ages at which at which Filipinx trans-WSM experience trans-specific developmental milestones. Methods Using data from Project #ParaSaAtin, an online survey of Filipinx trans-WSM (n = 139), we mapped age-estimates per trans-specific milestones and then tested whether structural violence is associated with the mean age at which trans women experience trans-specific developmental milestones. Results Overall, participants who reported higher levels of discrimination, stigma, and violence also experienced a later age for nearly each milestone (i.e., initial self-Awareness of transfeminine identity, transfeminine expression in private, transfeminine expression in public, first consensual oral/vaginal/anal sex with a cisgender male partner, first consensual oral/vaginal/ anal sex with a cisgender male partner as a trans women, and hormone integration) (all p-values 0.05). Of note, the single exception to this pattern was the non-significant association between stigma and initial disclosure of transfeminine identification to another person. Conclusion Results are consistent with psychological literature outlining a temporal sequence of developmental milestones among young trans-WSM. For young trans-WSM in the Philippines, data from this study demonstrate significant associations between structural violence and the achievement of developmental milestones. These findings highlight the need for trauma-informed, strengths-based programming and institutional policies that measure and mitigate anti-Trans violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0248248
JournalPloS one
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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