Sex-reassignment surgery yields long-term mental health benefits, study finds

From NBC News:  https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/sex-reassignment-surgery-yields-long-term-mental-health-benefits-study-n1079911

The longer ago a transgender person’s gender-affirming surgery, the less likely they are to suffer anxiety, depression or suicidal behavior, the study suggests.

By Reuters
Nov. 11, 2019

When transgender people undergo sex-reassignment surgery, the beneficial effect on their mental health is still evident — and increasing — years later, a Swedish study suggests.

Overall, people in the study with gender incongruence — that is, their biological gender doesn’t match the gender with which they identify — were six times more likely than people in the general population to visit a doctor for mood and anxiety disorders. They were also three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants, and six times more likely to be hospitalized after a suicide attempt, researchers found.

But among trans people who had undergone gender-affirming surgery, the longer ago their surgery, the less likely they were to suffer anxiety, depression or suicidal behavior during the study period, researchers reported in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Surgery to modify a person’s sex characteristics “is often the last and the most considered step in the treatment process for gender dysphoria,” according to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Many transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals “find comfort with their gender identity, role, and expression without surgery,” but for others, “surgery is essential and medically necessary to alleviate their gender dysphoria,” according to the organization.

While the new study confirms that transgender individuals are more likely to use mental health treatments, it also shows that gender-affirming therapy might reduce this risk, coauthor Richard Branstrom of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm told Reuters Health by email.

Branstrom and colleague John Pachankis of the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut found that as of 2015, 2,679 people in Sweden had a diagnosis of gender incongruence, out of the total population of 9.7 million.

That year, 9.3 percent of people with gender incongruence visited a doctor for mood disorders, 7.4 percent saw a doctor for anxiety disorders and 29 percent were on antidepressants. In the general population, those percentages were 1 percent, 0.6 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively.

Just over 70 percent of people with gender incongruence were receiving feminizing or masculinizing hormones to modify outward sexual features such as breasts, body fat distribution and facial hair, and 48 percent had undergone gender-affirming surgery. Nearly all of those who had surgery also received hormone therapy.

The benefit of hormone treatment did not increase with time. But “increased time since last gender-affirming surgery was associated with fewer mental health treatments,” the authors report.

In fact, they note, “The likelihood of being treated for a mood or anxiety disorder was reduced by 8 percent for each year since the last gender-affirming surgery,” for up to 10 years.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/sex-reassignment-surgery-yields-long-term-mental-health-benefits-study-n1079911

 

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Groundbreaking UW study: Transgender kids’ gender identity is as strong as that of cisgender children

From The Seattle Times:  https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/science/groundbreaking-uw-study-transgender-kids-gender-identity-is-as-strong-as-that-of-cisgender-children/

By
Dec. 9, 2019

Gender identity is as strong in transgender children as it is in cisgender children (those who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth), no matter how long a child has been treated as being a gender they don’t identify with, according to initial findings from a University of Washington study that is the largest of its kind.

The results bolster earlier UW research that has found transitioning doesn’t affect a transgender child’s sense of self.

The study also found that transgender children’s gender development mirrors that of cisgender kids.

For example, just as cisgender children tend to show interest in toys and clothes that society stereotypically associates with their gender, transgender children tend to do the same for things associated with the gender they identify as.

Even if a transgender boy’s family treated him as a girl for the first few years of his life, he will notice cues about what society expects of boys and “self-socialize” to learn how to “be” the gender he identifies as instead, said Selin Gülgöz, a postdoctoral researcher in UW’s psychology department and lead author of a paper about the study, which was published Nov. 18 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

“These children have a very clear understanding of the things assigned to the sexes,” Gülgöz said. “But it looks like, once they identify their gender, they are gravitating toward what society shows them.”

There is nuance when it comes to the influence of stereotypes, Gülgöz noted. How much girls like traditionally feminine things can vary, for instance, but researchers found that variance occurs to about the same extent in transgender girls as in cisgender girls, she said.

The UW researchers studied 822 children from the United States and Canada — 317 transgender children between the ages of 3 and 12, 189 of their cisgender siblings and 316 other cisgender children as a control group — and will follow them into adulthood.

Gülgöz said this study differs from other large studies of transgender children because all the children in UW’s study have socially transitioned to their present gender. Those children’s experiences might be expected to differ from those of children who are gender-nonconforming but haven’t transitioned, she said.

Continue reading at:  https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/science/groundbreaking-uw-study-transgender-kids-gender-identity-is-as-strong-as-that-of-cisgender-children/

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