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Trans adults have higher rates of disability – study

Transgender adults have higher rates of disability compared with cisgender men and women.

Transgender adults have higher rates of disability compared with cisgender men and women. This is according to a study – “Transgender Adults Have Higher Rates Of Disability Than Their Cisgender Counterparts” by Madeline Smith-Johnson – that appeared in Health Affairs.

In this study, Smith-Johnson used seven years of pooled cross-sectional data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to examine how disability varies by gender across age groups.

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The study found:

  • transgender adults reported higher rates of disability (30%) compared with cisgender women (24%) or cisgender men (18%)
  • while cisgender women had the highest overall proportion of disability, transgender people experienced higher rates of difficulty doing errands alone and of concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • cisgender men consistently reported the lowest proportion of limitation

According to Smith-Johnson, with transgender adults entering young adulthood with higher odds of disability, there is therefore a need for a life-course perspective on disability disparities.

The recommendations from Smith-Johnson include:

  • continuing identifying minority groups with disproportionate needs
  • include gender identity in core modules of survey instruments
  • come up policies that extend nondiscrimination protections to gender identity as a protected class, without religious refusal exemptions

“This study demonstrates the impact of considering the intersections of disability with other axes of disadvantage, such as gender identity and age, across the life course. As the US population ages and their functional limitations increase, paying attention to gender minority cohorts who experience discrimination will be crucial for developing targeted health policy interventions,” Smith-Johnson ended.


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