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Undergoing gender-affirming surgery associated with lower psychological distress

After adjustment for sociodemographic factors and exposure to other types of gender-affirming care, undergoing one or more types of gender-affirming surgery was associated with lower past-month psychological distress.

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels.com

Are gender-affirming surgeries associated with better mental health outcomes among transgender and gender diverse (TGD) people?

This was the question asked by researchers who wanted to evaluate associations between gender-affirming surgeries and mental health outcomes, including psychological distress, substance use, and suicide risk.

The study – “Association Between Gender-Affirming Surgeries and Mental Health Outcomes” by Anthony N. Almazan and Alex S. Keuroghlian – was published in JAMA Surgery.

In this study, the researchers performed a secondary analysis of data from the 2015 US Transgender Survey, the largest existing data set containing comprehensive information on the surgical and mental health experiences of TGD people. The survey was conducted across 50 US states; Washington, DC; US territories; and US military bases. A total of 27,715 TGD adults took the US Transgender Survey, which was disseminated by community-based outreach from August 19, 2015, to September 21, 2015. Data were analyzed between November 1, 2020, and January 3, 2021.

“This study demonstrates an association between gender-affirming surgery and improved mental health outcomes,” stressed the researchers.

Particularly:

  • Of the 27,715 respondents, 3,559 (12.8%) endorsed undergoing one or more types of gender-affirming surgery at least two years prior to submitting survey responses;
  • 16,401 (59.2%) endorsed a desire to undergo one or more types of gender-affirming surgery but denied undergoing any of these;
  • After adjustment for sociodemographic factors and exposure to other types of gender-affirming care, undergoing one or more types of gender-affirming surgery was associated with lower past-month psychological distress.

Due to the results, the researchers recommend providing “gender-affirming surgical care for TGD people.”

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