Mental Health and the Transgender Community

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Writing for Southern California Public Radio, Tara Haelle discusses new research on the struggles of transgender people, especially for young women of color. There is the hope that this research can help better understand the needs of transgender youth, empowering them with better mental health tools.

The study, headed by Sari Reisner of both Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, surveyed about 300 transgender women who were between 16-29 years old.  These women lived in Boston and Chicago, and most were people of color.

The questions that the research team sought to answer focuses on whether or not being transgender makes a person more likely to have mental health issues?  

Or, do these issues arise due to the treatment transgender people receive by society?

Some of the results of the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, included the following:

  • Transgender women of color were more likely to have a psychiatric disorder or substance abuse problem, a rate between 1.7-3.6 times greater than the rest of the U.S. population.
  • Four out of ten women surveyed had a substance abuse or mental health disorder.
  • One out of five women had at least two or more psychiatric issues.
  • One-third of the women experienced depression.
  • One out of five had thought about committing suicide within the past month.
  • There were higher levels of alcohol and substance use, PTSD, and anxiety within the test group.
  • Most women were unemployed and one-quarter didn’t have health insurance.

Another study that was published in Pediatrics studied young children who were transgender. These children had better support groups, families whose incomes were $75,000 or more, and had not yet gone through puberty. These children also received more positive reinforcement regarding their gender identity, and reported fewer mental health issues.

Further research is necessary, especially since many mental health problems arise after puberty. Yet, these studies may allow researchers to better understand how transgender youth can be better supported.

Want to learn more about Mental Health and the transgender community? Read the full article here:  “Probing the Complexities of Transgender Mental Health.”

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