Teen Connection Project (TCP)

group of diverse students smiling


Research shows that transgender and gender minority youth (TGMY) experience concerning rates of mental, social, and behavioral health issues as well as academic problems. Major factors that lead to these challenges include peer and family rejection and internalized transphobia (discomfort with one’s own TGM identity due to society’s negative view of TGM people). Mentoring programs may be particularly helpful for reducing the impacts of these harms as well as promoting self-acceptance, pride, and hope among TGMY. Currently, few mentoring programs exist specifically for TGMY and those that do have not been carefully evaluated.

Current Project

The goal of this research project is to evaluate an online, seven session mentoring and skill-building program for TGMY (ages 14-17) called Teen Connection Project (TCP). Each TGMY will be paired with a TGM adult mentor. Mentors and mentees will participate together in each session, which will be facilitated by two of the mentors, who will direct activities and discussion. Group sessions will then be followed by one-on-one mentor-mentee sessions during which TGMY will receive support, advice, and coaching from TGM mentors.

Prior to delivering TCP, TGMY will complete a pre-test survey and then be randomly assigned to either receive the TCP program right away or after the first group completes the program. In addition to the pre-test survey, participants will also complete a survey right after the program ends and again three months later.

The surveys will look specifically at how TCP:

  • Leads to reductions in negative outcomes (i.e. mental health problems, dating violence).
  • Reduces internalized oppression (feeling bad about being a TGMY).
  • Promotes social-emotional skills acquisition, self-acceptance, and resilience among TGMY.

We will also gather input from TGMY on what they liked about the program as well as suggestions they have for revisions. 

As part of this project, we have a Youth Advisory Group composed of TGMY. Members of the Advisory Group provide input on all aspects of the project to ensure its relevance and impact on TGMY.

After we get the results, we will share them with diverse audiences like other researchers, practitioners, educators, and youth. We will also work towards getting the program to more TGMY across the U.S.

This project is funded by the National Institutes of Health. The person leading this project is a queer professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln named Dr. Katie Edwards.

Teen Connection Project Resources

TCP Mentee/Youth Assent/Consent Form

National Resources for Supporting TGD Youth

person with pride flag draped over their back.


The project aims to reduce inequalities that exist among TGMY, promoting resilience, and positive youth development. This program could eventually be scaled up so that it reaches lots of TGMY across the U.S. and make a major impact on the overall well-being of TGMY.

TCP Logo

Contact Information

Email: tcproject@unl.edu
Phone: (402) 433-6449