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Trans, gender-questioning youths have increased risk factors, worse outcomes in 5 health domains

On bullying and suicidality, transgender adolescents were more likely to report bullying at school (41.3% vs 18.0%); and considering (44.8% vs 16.2%), planning (41.6% vs 12.7%), and attempting (30.0% vs 6.9%) suicide than cisgender youths.

Transgender and gender-questioning youths have increased risk factors and worse outcomes in five health domains.

This is according to a study – “Health Risk Factors and Outcomes Among Gender Minority High School Students in 15 US States” by Gilbert Gonzales and Cameron Deal – that appeared in JAMA.

The study – which used data sets from the 2017 and 2019 of the American “Youth Risk Behavior Surveys” – involved 4,092 transgender respondents (1.8%), 3,661 gender-questioning respondents (1.6%), and 189,396 cisgender participants (96.6%). Further broken down, an estimated 10.2% of cisgender adolescents, 53.2% of transgender adolescents, and 49.3% of gender-questioning adolescents identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

The study particularly looked at five domains of health: (1) bullying, (2) sexual and dating violence, (3) mental health and suicidality, (4) sexual risk behaviors, and (5) substance use. 

The study found:

  • Transgender adolescents reported differences from cisgender adolescents on most measures in all 5 domains and from gender-questioning adolescents on most measures in all domains except sexual risk behaviors. For example, on bullying and suicidality, transgender adolescents were more likely to report bullying at school (41.3% vs 18.0%); and considering (44.8% vs 16.2%), planning (41.6% vs 12.7%), and attempting (30.0% vs 6.9%) suicide than cisgender youths.
  • Gender-questioning adolescents were more likely to report bullying at school (37.1% vs 18.0%) and considering (43.2% vs 16.2%), planning (37.5% vs 12.7%), and attempting (27.9% vs 6.9%) suicide than cisgender youth.
  • The highest adjusted prevalence ratios were for physical dating violence, suicide attempts that required medical treatment, and cocaine use.

For the researchers, there is a need to “expand gender identity response options to be more inclusive of nonbinary, genderqueer, and gender-nonconforming populations.”

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