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Trans, gender expansive youth experience elevated risk for substance use, other health inequities

Transgender and gender expansive (TGE) youth experience elevated risk for substance use and other health inequities compared to cisgender peers.

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Transgender and gender expansive (TGE) youth experience elevated risk for substance use and other health inequities compared to cisgender peers. This is according to a study – “Protective Environments, Health, and Substance Use Among Transgender and Gender Expansive Youth” – that appeared in LGBT Health, and that noted the associations between protective environments — i.e. perceived community tolerance, perceived family support, and housing stability — with recent binge drinking, lifetime high-risk substance use (HRSU; cocaine, methamphetamines, and/or heroin), and self-rated health.

For this study, researchers Katrina S. Kennedy, Christopher R. Harper, Jingjing Li, Nicolas A. Suarez, and Michelle M. Johns did a secondary analysis of 1,567 TGE youth aged 13–24 years, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2018 web-based Survey of Today’s Adolescent Relationships and Transitions, which used a nonprobabilistic recruiting strategy via social media. Logistic regression was used to test the associations between protective environments and substance use and health outcomes.

The findings of the study included:

  • 28.1% of participants reported that people who lived near them were tolerant of transgender people
  • 32.8% reported that their family was at least somewhat supportive of their TGE identity
  • 77.0% were stably housed

In the logistic regression models, community tolerance and housing stability were associated with lower odds of self-rated poor health. Housing stability was associated with lower odds of recent binge drinking and lifetime HRSU.

The researchers stressed that “perceived community tolerance and housing stability were associated with several health outcomes among TGE youth.”

They, therefore, stressed that “protective factors, including safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments, are critical to youth health and wellbeing.” Meaning, there is a “need for prevention strategies to promote protective environments and reduce known substance use and overall health inequities among TGE youth.”

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