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Public bathroom-related stressors negatively influence transgender adults’ depressive symptoms

The proportions of participants who reported “avoidant behaviors alone” and “victimization experiences” related to public bathroom use were 47.0% and 23.0%, respectively.

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A transgender-related issue that just won’t disappear…

Public bathroom-related stressors may negatively influence transgender adults’ depressive symptoms.

This is according to a study – “Transgender Adults’ Public Bathroom-Related Stressors and Their Association with Depressive Symptoms: A Nationwide Cross-Sectional Study in South Korea” by Hyemin Lee, Horim Yi, G. Nic Rider, Don Operario, Sungsub Choo, Ranyeong Kim, Yun-Jung Eom, and Seung-Sup Kim – that appeared in LGBT Health.

For this study, the researchers wanted to assess public bathroom-related stressors and examined their association with depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts among transgender individuals.

The researchers analyzed data from a cross-sectional survey of 557 South Korean transgender adults (age range: 19–60 years) conducted in October 2020. Participants were asked nine yes/no questions about whether they have ever experienced public bathroom-related stressors within the last 12 months. The responses were classified into three categories: “never experienced,” “avoidant behaviors alone,” and “victimization experiences.”

The proportions of participants who reported “avoidant behaviors alone” and “victimization experiences” related to public bathroom use were 47.0% and 23.0%, respectively. Past-week prevalence of depressive symptoms was 70.7%, and past 12-month prevalence of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts was 63.0% and 19.8%, respectively.

Compared with participants who “never experienced” public bathroom-related stressors, the prevalence of depressive symptoms was statistically significantly higher among those who reported “avoidant behaviors alone” (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 1.22; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.07–1.40) and “victimization experiences” (aPR = 1.18; 95% CI = 1.01–1.38), after adjusting for covariates, including gender perception by others. In the same adjusted model, however, no significant associations of public bathroom-related stressors with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts were observed.

For the researchers, given that that the use of public bathrooms causes stress to many transgender people, causing the emergence of depressive symptoms, “efforts are necessary to ensure their safe access to public bathrooms.”

The researchers, therefore, recommend for “policy-level interventions… to eliminate stigma against transgender individuals, given that public bathroom-related stressors could be considered an indicator of broader anti-transgender stigma.”

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