Curtin University researchers have completed the First Australian National Trans Mental Health Study with findings suggesting trans people may experience worse mental health than any other community in Australia.
The term ‘trans’ is used to describe a person who experiences an incongruence between the sex assigned to them at birth and the sex they feel they belong to, and/or a person who has a gender expression that is inconsistent with societal expectations of their sex.
Mr Matt Tilley, Clinical Professional Fellow in Curtin’s School of Public Health said the beyondblue funded study examined the mental health of trans people and is the largest study of its kind in Australia, and one of the largest in the world.
“Close to 950 people took part in the study which examined the mental health of trans people and found they are four times more likely to have been diagnosed with depression than the general population, and approximately 1.5 times more likely to have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder,” Mr Tilley said.
“Of even greater concern, is that the proportion of participants who were currently affected by depression or anxiety was greater than the lifetime prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders in the general population.”
Findings also suggested that access to hormones and surgery improves quality of life for many trans people.
“In those taking hormone therapy the proportion of trans people with a mental illness was 39.8%, while in those who were not taking it, but wished to do so, the proportion was 58.4%,” Mr Tilley said.
“Of those who had undergone at least some form of transition-related surgery, the proportion with clinically relevant depressive symptoms was 34.6%. Among those who desired, but had not undergone surgery, it was 51.3%.
“Poor healthcare and discrimination were cited as significant contributors to poor mental health for trans people and an area which requires urgent attention.”
The report concludes with a series of recommendations that could dramatically improve the quality of life of trans people. Some of these recommendations included making research into their mental health a priority and that suicide prevention interventions and research must specifically target trans people.
(Source: Curtin University)