Addressing the Overlooked Mental Health Crisis in the Transgender Community

Many people do not understand the transgender experience and therefore believe it to be a choice. I want to make it clear, the scientific community has not found evidence of...

Before we jump into the science, I’d like to briefly introduce some concepts you may not be familiar with. Approximately 1.4 million adults in the United States identify as Transgender (Flores et al., 2016). The term transgender refers to individual’s whose personal gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth (Defining transgender terms, 2018). 

Many people do not understand the transgender experience and therefore believe it to be a choice. I want to make it clear, the scientific community has not found evidence of environmental influences determining gender identity (Bao & Swaab, 2011). Any assertion otherwise is not backed by the bulk of research and contributes to the systematic mistreatment of this population.
For many years members of this community have been persecuted for their differences. The social stigma, threats of violence, and isolation have led to some significantly negative health outcomes for the transgender population. Research shows that adolescents who identify as transgender report twice the amount of depressive symptoms and are five times more likely to attempt suicide than cisgendered (individual’s whose gender identity matches their assigned sex) adolescents (Tan et al, 2020). This is a mental health crisis!

Sources:

  • Bao, A.-M., & Swaab, D. F. (2011). Sexual differentiation of the human brain: Relation to gender identity, sexual orientation and neuropsychiatric disorders. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 32(2), 214–226. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yfrne.2011.02.007
  • Tan, K. K. H., Ellis, S. J., Schmidt, J. M., Byrne, J. L., & Veale, J. F. (2020). Mental Health Inequities among Transgender People in Aotearoa New Zealand: Findings from the Counting Ourselves Survey. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(8), 2862. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082862
  • Flores, A.R., Herman, J.L., Gates, G.J., & Brown, T.N.T. (2016). How Many Adults Identify as Transgender in the United States? Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute.
  • Defining transgender terms. (2018). A glossary: Defining transgender terms. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.apa.org website: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/09/ce-corner-glossary

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