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Family rejection may more than triple suicide attempt risk by trans and gender variant individuals

A study suggests that providers serving the transgender community consider the role of families when assessing a transgender person’s social, emotional, and physical health. Providing emotional and informational support to families may help make a critical difference in decreasing the risk and increasing well-being for transgender individuals.

Family rejection increases the risk of two critical health outcomes that are common among transgender individuals — suicide attempts and substance misuse — according to a new study published in LGBT Health, a peer-reviewed journal from publisher Mary Ann Liebert.

In “Family Rejection as a Predictor of Suicide Attempts and Substance Misuse Among Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Adults”, coauthors Augustus Klein and Sarit Golub, PhD, MPH drew data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (N=6,456). This secondary analysis was restricted to 3,458 individuals who self-identified as transgender or gender nonconforming and provided complete data on study variables. They used multivariable logistic regression to examine health risks by level of reported family rejection (low/moderate/high), controlling for relevant sociodemographic characteristics.

Klein and Golub found that, overall, more than 42% of the individuals who self-identified as transgender or gender nonconforming reported a suicide attempt, and over 26% had misused drugs or alcohol to cope with transgender-related discrimination. After controlling for age, race/ethnicity, sex assigned at birth, binary gender identity, income, education, and employment status, family rejection was associated with increased odds of both behaviors. Odds increased significantly with increasing levels of family rejection.

“Gender minority stress and stigma contribute to the increased rates of depression, anxiety disorders, suicidality, and substance abuse in the transgender population. This study underscores the importance of family support and acceptance in mitigating that stress,” said LGBT Health editor in chief William Byne, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY).

For Klein and Golub, “these findings suggest that providers serving the transgender community consider the role of families when assessing a transgender person’s social, emotional, and physical health. Providing emotional and informational support to families may help make a critical difference in decreasing the risk and increasing well-being for transgender individuals.”

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