Youth access to gender-affirming hormone therapy linked to lower depression rates
A new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health examining the relationship between transgender and nonbinary youth and use of gender affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) shows access to such resources significantly lowers rates of depression and suicide among transgender and nonbinary youth.
Transgender and nonbinary youth have high risk of depression and suicide. Among adults, gender-affirming healthcare is associated with lower risk.
Led by Amy Green PhD, vice president of research at The Trevor Project, the largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people, the study examines mental health among transgender and nonbinary youth who receive GAHT.
The data from this study was drawn from a 2020 survey of 34,759 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth aged 13 to 24, including 11,914 transgender or nonbinary youth. Adjusted logistic regression assessed whether receipt of GAHT was associated with lower levels of depression, thoughts of suicide, and attempted suicide among those who wanted to receive GAHT.
The results found that half of transgender and nonbinary youth said they were not using GAHT but would like to, 36 percent were not interested in receiving GAHT, and 14 percent were receiving this therapy. Parent support for their child's gender identity had a strong correlation with receipt of hormone therapy, with nearly 80 percent of those who received GAHT reporting they had at least one parent who supported their gender identity, according to researchers.
The use of GAHT was associated with lower odds of recent depression and seriously considering suicide compared to those who wanted GAHT but did not receive it, the researchers found. For youth under age 18, GAHT was associated with lower odds of recent depression and seriously considering suicide compared to those who wanted GAHT but did not receive it. For youth under age 18, GAHT was associated with lower odds of recent depression and of a past-year suicide attempt.
Forty-two percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth, according to the 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, published by The Trevor Project. That survey also found that in the past year, nearly half of LGBTQ youth have wanted counseling from a mental health professional but did not receive it. This matters for integrative practitioners who treat LGBTQ youth and their families so they can be aware of what resources are available and help minimize barriers for gender-affirming treatment.