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Transgender Youth at Highest Risk for Violent Radicalization, Study Finds

A recent peer-reviewed study conducted by Canadian researchers reveals that transgender youth are at the highest risk for supporting violent radicalization. The study, published in 2022 in Frontiers in Psychiatry and titled “Meaning in Life, Future Orientation and Support for Violent Radicalization Among Canadian College Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” found that transgender youth are more likely to become “violently radicalized” than biological women and other groups.

Understanding Violent Radicalization

The authors of the study define the term “violent radicalization” as a “complex and multidimensional phenomenon” in which an individual or a group “increases support for violence as a legitimate means to reach a specific goal,” whether it be political, social, religious, or other. The authors also note that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased levels of uncertainty and social polarization, compromising young people’s capacity to envision a positive future and maintain a meaningful sense of purpose in life.

Research Methodology

The researchers analyzed surveys submitted by 3,100 college students between the ages of 16 and 25 from 18 different colleges in Quebec, Canada, during the second wave of the pandemic. The study found that “transgender and gender diverse students reported higher support for violent radicalization compared to students who identified as women,” leading the authors to conclude that “transgender and gender-diverse youth emerge as the group at the highest risk of support for violent radicalization.”

The Link to Recent Events

The findings of the study coincide with a recent shooting at Covenant Christian Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. Audrey Elizabeth Hale, a former student who identified as transgender and used male pronouns, shot six people, including three young children. Police are still investigating the shooting and have stated that Hale was being treated for an “emotional disorder” prior to the incident.

The Role of Preventive Interventions

Given the risk posed by violent radicalization, the study authors suggest that schools and colleges implement preventive interventions to support a positive future orientation and the presence of meaning in life among young people during these challenging and uncertain times. By doing so, the authors argue, these interventions could reduce the risk of violence related to extreme ideologies in our rapidly changing society.


The study’s findings underscore the importance of understanding the risk of violent radicalization among young people, particularly transgender youth. By recognizing the risk factors and implementing preventive interventions, schools and colleges can help mitigate the risk and promote a positive future for all students.

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