Transgender Issues

CIR has created a resource briefly compiling exerpts from the texts quoted on this page. It’s located here.

Key Texts:

  1. How Many Adults Identify as Transgender in the United States? Link.
  2. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM5). Link.

Key Abstracts:

Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults (Haas et al, survey, 2014)

The prevalence of suicide attempts among respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, is 41 percent, which vastly exceeds the 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population who report a lifetime suicide attempt, and is also higher than the 10-20 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults who report ever attempting suicide. Much remains to be learned about underlying factors and which groups within the diverse population of transgender and gender non-conforming people are most at risk. In the present study, we sought to increase understanding of suicidal behavior among transgender and gender non-conforming people through an in-depth analysis of NTDS data. The specific aims of our analysis were to identify the key characteristics and experiences associated with lifetime suicide attempts in the NTDS sample as a whole, and to examine how lifetime suicide attempts vary among different groups of transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Mental Health of Transgender Youth in Care at an Adolescent Urban Community Health Center: A Matched Retrospective Cohort Study (Reisner et al, cohort study, 2014).

Purpose. Transgender youth represent a vulnerable population at risk for negative mental health outcomes including depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidality. Limited data exist to compare the mental health of transgender adolescents and emerging adults to cisgender youth accessing community-based clinical services; the present study aimed to fill this gap.

Methods. A retrospective cohort study of electronic health record data from 180 transgender patients aged 12–29 years seen between 2002 and 2011 at a Boston-based community health center was performed. The 106 female-to-male (FTM) and 74 male-to-female (MTF) patients were matched on gender identity, age, visit date, and race/ethnicity to cisgender controls. Mental health outcomes were extracted and analyzed using conditional logistic regression models. Logistic regression models compared FTM with MTF youth on mental health outcomes.

Results. The sample (N = 360) had a mean age of 19.6 years (standard deviation, 3.0); 43% white, 33% racial/ethnic minority, and 24% race/ethnicity unknown. Compared with cisgender matched controls, transgender youth had a twofold to threefold increased risk of depression, anxiety disorder, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, self-harm without lethal intent, and both inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment (all p < .05). No statistically significant differences in mental health outcomes were observed comparing FTM and MTF patients, adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and hormone use.

Conclusions. Transgender youth were found to have a disparity in negative mental health outcomes compared with cisgender youth, with equally high burden in FTM and MTF patients. Identifying gender identity differences in clinical settings and providing appropriate services and supports are important steps in addressing this disparity.

Long-term follow-up of transsexual persons undergoing sex reassignment surgery: cohort study in Sweden (Dhejne et al, cohort study, 2011)

Context. The treatment for transsexualism is sex reassignment, including hormonal treatment and surgery aimed at making the person’s body as congruent with the opposite sex as possible. There is a dearth of long term, follow-up studies after sex reassignment.

Objective. To estimate mortality, morbidity, and criminal rate after surgical sex reassignment of transsexual persons.

Design. A population-based matched cohort study.

Setting. Sweden, 1973-2003.

Participants. All 324 sex-reassigned persons (191 male-to-females, 133 female-to-males) in Sweden, 1973–2003. Random population controls (10∶1) were matched by birth year and birth sex or reassigned (final) sex, respectively.

Main Outcome Measures. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for mortality and psychiatric morbidity were obtained with Cox regression models, which were adjusted for immigrant status and psychiatric morbidity prior to sex reassignment (adjusted HR [aHR]).

Results. The overall mortality for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 1.8–4.3) than for controls of the same birth sex, particularly death from suicide (aHR 19.1; 95% CI 5.8–62.9). Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts (aHR 4.9; 95% CI 2.9–8.5) and psychiatric inpatient care (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 2.0–3.9). Comparisons with controls matched on reassigned sex yielded similar results. Female-to-males, but not male-to-females, had a higher risk for criminal convictions than their respective birth sex controls.

Conclusions. Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.

Hormonal therapy and sex reassignment: a systematic review and meta-analysis of quality of life and psychosocial outcomes (Murad et al, review, 2010)

OBJECTIVE. To assess the prognosis of individuals with gender identity disorder (GID) receiving hormonal therapy as a part of sex reassignment in terms of quality of life and other self-reported psychosocial outcomes.

METHODS. We searched electronic databases, bibliography of included studies and expert files. All study designs were included with no language restrictions. Reviewers working independently and in pairs selected studies using predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria, extracted outcome and quality data. We used a random-effects meta-analysis to pool proportions and estimate the 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We estimated the proportion of between-study heterogeneity not attributable to chance using the I(2) statistic.

RESULTS. We identified 28 eligible studies. These studies enrolled 1833 participants with GID (1093 male-to-female, 801 female-to-male) who underwent sex reassignment that included hormonal therapies. All the studies were observational and most lacked controls. Pooling across studies shows that after sex reassignment, 80% of individuals with GID reported significant improvement in gender dysphoria (95% CI = 68-89%; 8 studies; I(2) = 82%); 78% reported significant improvement in psychological symptoms (95% CI = 56-94%; 7 studies; I(2) = 86%); 80% reported significant improvement in quality of life (95% CI = 72-88%; 16 studies; I(2) = 78%); and 72% reported significant improvement in sexual function (95% CI = 60-81%; 15 studies; I(2) = 78%).

CONCLUSIONS. Very low quality evidence suggests that sex reassignment that includes hormonal interventions in individuals with GID likely improves gender dysphoria, psychological functioning and comorbidities, sexual function and overall quality of life.

Quality of life 15 years after sex reassignment surgery for transsexualism (Kuhn et al, retrospective cohort, 2009)

OBJECTIVE. To evaluate quality of life and patients’ satisfaction in transsexual patients (TS) after sex reassignment operation compared with healthy controls.

DESIGN. A case-control study.

SETTING. A tertiary referral center.

PATIENT(S). Patients after sex reassignment operation were compared with a similar group of healthy controls in respect to quality of life and general satisfaction.

INTERVENTION(S). For quality of life we used the King’s Health Questionnaire, which was distributed to the patients and to the control group. Visual analogue scale was used for the determination of satisfaction.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S). Main outcome measures were quality of life and satisfaction.

RESULT(S). Fifty-five transsexuals participated in this study. Fifty-two were male-to-female and 3 female-to-male. Quality of life as determined by the King’s Health Questionnaire was significantly lower in general health, personal, physical and role limitations. Patients’ satisfaction was significantly lower compared with controls. Emotions, sleep, and incontinence impact as well as symptom severity is similar to controls. Overall satisfaction was statistically significant lower in TS compared with controls.

CONCLUSION(S). Fifteen years after sex reassignment operation quality of life is lower in the domains general health, role limitation, physical limitation, and personal limitation.

A follow-up study of girls with gender identity disorder (Drummond et al, cohort, 2008)

This study provided information on the natural histories of 25 girls with gender identity disorder (GID). Standardized assessment data in childhood (mean age, 8.88 years; range, 3-12 years) and at follow-up (mean age, 23.24 years; range, 15-36 years) were used to evaluate gender identity and sexual orientation. At the assessment in childhood, 60% of the girls met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for GID, and 40% were subthreshold for the diagnosis. At follow-up, 3 participants (12%) were judged to have GID or gender dysphoria. Regarding sexual orientation, 8 participants (32%) were classified as bisexual/homosexual in fantasy, and 6 (24%) were classified as bisexual/homosexual in behavior. The remaining participants were classified as either heterosexual or asexual. The rates of GID persistence and bisexual/homosexual sexual orientation were substantially higher than base rates in the general female population derived from epidemiological or survey studies. There was some evidence of a “dosage” effect, with girls who were more cross-sex typed in their childhood behavior more likely to be gender dysphoric at follow-up and more likely to have been classified as bisexual/homosexual in behavior (but not in fantasy).

A Man’s Brain in an Ambiguous Body: A Case of Mistaken Gender Identity (Bostwick and Martin, case study, 2007)

No abstract available. Link.

Two Monozygotic Twin Pairs Discordant for Female-to-Male Transsexualism (Segal, case study, 2006)

Two monozygotic female twin pairs discordant for transsexualism are described. These reports double the number of such case studies in the current scientific literature. Interviews with the twins and their families indicated that unusual medical and life history factors did not play causal roles. However, inspection of medical records for one transsexual twin suggested that some early life experiences may have exacerbated tendencies toward male gender identification. In both pairs, the twins’ gender identity differences emerged early, consistent with, but not proof of, co-twin differences in prenatal hormonal influences. The identification of additional discordant MZ female twin pairs can advance biological and psychological understanding of transsexualism. Suggestions for future research, based upon findings from these two twin pairs and from studies of female-to-male transsexuals, are provided.

HIV Prevalence, Risk Behaviors, Health Care Use, and Mental Health Status of Transgender Persons: Implications for Public Health Intervention (Clements-Noelle et al, prospective cohort, 2001)

OBJECTIVES: This study described HIV prevalence, risk behaviors, health care use, and mental health status of male-to-female and female-to-male transgender persons and determined factors associated with HIV. METHODS: We recruited transgender persons through targeted sampling, respondent-driven sampling, and agency referrals; 392 male-to-female and 123 female-to-male transgender persons were interviewed and tested for HIV. RESULTS: HIV prevalence among male-to-female transgender persons was 35%. African American race (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 5.81; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.82, 11.96), a history of injection drug use (OR = 2.69; 95% CI = 1.56, 4.62), multiple sex partners (adjusted OR = 2.64; 95% CI = 1.50, 4.62), and low education (adjusted OR = 2.08; 95% CI = 1.17, 3.68) were independently associated with HIV. Among female-to-male transgender persons, HIV prevalence (2%) and risk behaviors were much lower. Most male-to-female (78%) and female-to-male (83%) transgender persons had seen a medical provider in the past 6 months. Sixty-two percent of the male-to-female and 55% of the female-to-male transgender persons were depressed; 32% of each population had attempted suicide. CONCLUSIONS: High HIV prevalence suggests an urgent need for risk reduction interventions for male-to-female transgender persons. Recent contact with medical providers was observed, suggesting that medical providers could provide an important link to needed prevention, health, and social services.

Sex Reassignment: Follow-up (Meyer and Reter, retrospective, 1979)

Although medical interest in individuals adopting the dress and life-style of the opposite sex goes back to antiquity, surgical intervention is a product of the last 50 years. In the last 15 years, evaluation procedures and surgical techniques have been worked out. Extended evaluation, with a one- to two-year trial period prior to formal consideration of surgery, is accepted practice at reputable centers. Cosmetically satisfactory, and often functional, genitalia can be constructed. Less clear-cut, however, are the characteristics of the applicants for sex reassignment, the natural history of the compulsion toward surgery, and surgery’s long-term effects. The characteristics of 50 applicants for sex reassignment, both operated and unoperated, are reviewed. The results of long-term follow-up are reported in terms of such indices as job, educational, marital, and domiciliary stability. Outcome data are discussed in terms of the adjustments of operated and unoperated patients.