Is gender-affirming care for transgender and nonbinary (TNB) youths associated with changes in depression, anxiety, and suicidality?
A study – “Mental Health Outcomes in Transgender and Nonbinary Youths Receiving Gender-Affirming Care” by Diana M. Tordoff, Jonathon W. Wanta, Arin Collin, et al – that appeared in JAMA Network Open is claiming that access to gender-affirming care is associated with mitigation of mental health disparities among TNB youths over one year. This is important “given this population’s high rates of adverse mental health outcomes,” with new data suggesting that “access to pharmacological interventions may be associated with improved mental health among TNB youths over a short period.”
As is it, the researchers noted that TNB youths are “disproportionately burdened by poor mental health outcomes owing to decreased social support and increased stigma and discrimination.”
They therefore conducted a prospective observational cohort study at an urban multidisciplinary gender clinic among TNB adolescents and young adults seeking gender-affirming care from August 2017 to June 2018. In total, 104 youths were involved in this research.
They found that at baseline, 59 individuals (56.7%) had moderate to severe depression, 52 individuals (50.0%) had moderate to severe anxiety, and 45 individuals (43.3%) reported self-harm or suicidal thoughts. By the end of the study, 69 youths (66.3%) had received puberty blockers (PBs), gender-affirming hormones (GAHs), or both interventions, while 35 youths had not received either intervention (33.7%).
After adjustment for temporal trends and potential confounders, they observed 60% lower odds of depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality among youths who had initiated PBs or GAHs compared with youths who had not.
“(G)ender-affirming care may be associated with improved well-being among TNB youths over a short period, which is important given mental health disparities experienced by this population, particularly the high levels of self-harm and suicide,” the researchers stated.