Transgender youth reported greater life satisfaction and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety after receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy for two years, a new study reports.
searchpublished Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, evaluated 315 transgender youths ages 12 to 20, with an average age of 16, over the course of two years while they received treatment with hormones that confirm their gender.
The researchers are a group of physicians and professors associated with universities and children’s hospitals in Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. The study was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
The researchers used scales that measure depression and anxiety, positive emotions and a sense of satisfaction with life, and appearance congruence — meaning how much a trans person feels their outward appearance matches their gender identity. Participants rated each of these factors numerically.
The researchers found that, on average, the participants reported increases in positive emotions, life satisfaction, and appearance conformity. These increases were associated with decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The findings support the use of hormone therapy as an effective treatment for transgender and non-binary youth, the researchers write.
The researchers reported their findings It has also been suggested that conformity in appearance is important to the well-being of trans and non-binary youth. Mental and physical health differences between youth who went through ‘sex-non-conforming’ puberty – puberty linked to the sex assigned at birth – and those who did not also support the importance of appearance conformity for well-being.
Only a small subset (24 participants) in the study did not undergo widespread gender-nonconforming puberty, either because they started puberty blockers early in puberty, or started sex-affirming hormones when puberty began later.
“Those who did not experience gender-inappropriate major puberty had higher scores for appearance conformity, positive affect, life satisfaction, and lower scores for depression and anxiety at baseline than young adults who did experience major intrapubescent,” meaning that puberty is related to their gender-specific age, the researchers wrote.
They also noted that symptoms of depression and anxiety decreased significantly and life satisfaction increased significantly among trans and non-binary youth who identified as female at birth but not for those who identified as male at birth. This difference can be attributed to several factors, they write: First, some physical changes associated with estrogen, such as breast development, can take anywhere from two to five years to reach their “maximum effect.”
As a result, the researchers speculated that a longer follow-up period might be necessary for young transgendered women to see an effect on mental health.
Second, they write, the physical changes that result from testosterone-induced puberty, such as a deeper voice, may be “more noticeable and noticeable” than those associated with estrogen-induced puberty.
Third, the researchers write that it is possible that differences in anxiety and life satisfaction may be related to lower social acceptance of transgender people, compared to transgender people.
Publication of research In the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2021, it was suggested that transgender youth may experience minority pressure, pressure that stigmatized minority groups such as LGBT people face, more than male trans youth.
The authors of the new study write that understanding the impact of gender-affirming hormones on the mental health and well-being of transgender and non-binary youth “may seem critical, given the documented disparities in mental health observed in this population, particularly in the context of the increasing politicization of medical care.” that affirm gender.”
Over the past two years, state legislatures have considered dozens of bills that seek to restrict access to gender-affirming medical care, such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery for transgender minors.
Governors in four states — Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee and Arizona — signed restrictions on such sponsorship into law, but the actions in Arkansas and Alabama have been blocked from being put into effect by federal judges pending litigation.
So far this year, lawmakers have introduced such legislation in at least 16 states.
Supporters of this legislation argue that care is experimental and that minors are too young to make decisions about medical care that could have irreversible effects.
These groups point to the growing body of research that has found care to have significant positive mental and physical health effects on transgender youth, who have disproportionately high rates of suicide.
National survey Released last year by The Trevor Project, a national youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization, it found that more than half (53%) of transgender and non-binary youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year. Almost 1 in 5 (19%) reported that they had attempted suicide in the past year.
In addition to the New England Journal of Medicine study, about a half-dozen others have shown that access to puberty blockers and hormone therapy can improve mental health outcomes, including reducing suicidal thoughts among transgender youth.
and a 2021 study published In the Journal of Adolescent Health, which was Based on data from The Trevor Projectfound that gender-affirming hormone therapy was strongly associated with a lower risk of suicide and depression for transgender youth ages 13 to 24.
The researchers behind the New England Journal of Medicine study note that there are some limitations to their study. For example, they recruited participants from children’s hospital sex clinics in Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles.
As a result, they said, the findings may not apply to young people who do not have access to comprehensive gender-affirmation care or young people who self-medicate with gender-affirming hormones.
They also noted that improvements in mental health varied widely, and that some participants went on to report high levels of depression and anxiety and low levels of positive emotions and life satisfaction.
Two of the participants died by suicide during the study and six dropped out, according to the researchers. They added that information collected before they died or left the study was included in the analyses.
The study did not examine other factors that are known to influence psychosocial functioning among trans youth, such as parental support. The study also lacks a comparison group, which the researchers said limits their ability to prove causation. They plan to study those other factors and will continue to follow the group to see if improvements continue over a longer period of time.
If you or someone you know is going through a crisis, call 988 to access the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.