The results of a new study on transgender health have been reported in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
The article is Association Between Gender Minority Status and Self-Reported Physical and Mental Health in the United States. Dr. Carl Streed, Jr, et al., have found that Transgender people struggle more with their health and the disparity cannot be explained by pointing to poverty or poor lifestyle habits. According to Streed, it might more likely be down to "the minority stress model."
The idea is that any population that has experienced stigma and discrimination has that negative experience reflecting in their health and how they perceive it.
The findings do not surprise Dr. Stephen Rosenthal of Benioff Children's Hospital Child and Adolescent Gender Center at University of California, San Francisco.
Transgender people are still often misunderstood and marginalized.
When I look back over the last eight and a half years I have been involved in this work, I see things moving in the right direction, but there is still a lot to be done.
Streed's team analyzed data collected by state health departments at the behest of the the US Centers for Disease Control.
Since 2014, this surveillance system has included a gender identity question. The researchers looked at the more than 315,000 people who answered the gender identity question in 2014 and 2015. Of that total, about 1,400 identified as transgender.
It was found that transgender people tended to be younger and less likely to white, married, cohabiting, have a child in their household or speak English. They were also found to have a lower income, be unemployed, uninsured, and have unmet medical needs due to cost, as well to be overweight and report feelings of depression.
The researchers looked at three outcomes, including self-reports of overall health, limitations due to physical or other problems and issues with concentrating and decision-making. The association with poorer health held even after taking into account factors known to affect health, such as alcohol and cigarette use and whatever health issues the study participants might have already had.
While 17% of cisgender respondents reported their health as poor or fair, 29% of transgender respondents reported the same.
Given that our study is a cross section of where this population is now, we cannot definitely say that it is a cause-and-effect outcome based on this data.
Other studies have found the same kind of disparities.
These findings correspond to our 2015 transgender survey.
--Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE
While about 11% of cisgender adults do not have health insurance, that number swells to 21% for transgender adults.
More than 1 in 5 transgender adults said they had let a health problem fester because they couldn’t afford to get the necessary treatment. In contrast, 1 in 8 cisgender adults were in the same predicament.
Among the transgender adults who took the survey, 22.3% had been diagnosed with depression. That was significantly higher than the 18.4% of cisgender adults who got that diagnosis.
When asked whether they had any problems with “concentrating, remembering or making decisions,” 10% cisgender and 18% of transgender adults answered yes.