People with an incongruent gender identity are over four times more likely than the general population to suffer from mental health problems.

People with an incongruent gender identity are much more likely than the general population to suffer from mental health problems. Expand
People with an incongruent gender identity are over four times more likely than the general population to suffer from mental health problems.

This finding, from an American campus survey [1], found that gender minority status was associated with “4.3 times higher odds of having at least 1 mental health problem.” Similarly, a Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy article [2] notes that “a large percentage of adolescents referred for gender dysphoria have a substantial co-occurring history of psychosocial and psychological vulnerability.”

In Lisa Littman’s seminal work [3] on rapid onset gender dysphoria, 62.5% of the young people whose parents were surveyed had at least one mental health or neurodevelopmental issue. 58.0% had a poor or extremely poor ability to handle negative emotions productively; 61.4% were overwhelmed by strong emotions and tried to avoid (or went to great lengths to avoid) experiencing them.

In a systematic review [4] of individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria, 53.2% had at least one mental disorder in their lifetime. Such figures substantially exceed prevalence rates of comorbid psychopathology in the general population [5]: a further paper [6] studying hospital encounters found that the prevalence of mental disorder diagnoses was higher in transgender encounters (77%) than in the general population (37.8%).

A Swedish study [7] found that sex-reassigned persons had a higher risk of inpatient care for a psychiatric disorder (other than gender identity disorder) than the control population. Inpatient care for psychiatric disorders was also significantly more common among sex-reassigned persons than among controls, both before and after sex reassignment.

REFERENCES

[1] Lipson, S. K., Raifman, J., Abelson, S. & Reisner, S. L. (2019). Gender Minority Mental Health in the U.S.: Results of a National Survey on College Campuses. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 57 (3): 293-301. [Link]

[2] Bechard, M., VanderLaan, D. P., Wood, H., Wasserman, L. & Zucker, K. (2017). Psychosocial and Psychological Vulnerability in Adolescents with Gender Dysphoria: A “Proof of Principle” Study. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 43 (7). [Link]

[3] Littman, L. (2018). Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports. PLOS ONE, 13 (8). [Link]

[4] de Freitas, L. D., Léda-Rêgo, G., Bezerra-Filho, S., & Miranda-Scippa, Â. (2020). Psychiatric disorders in individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria: A systematic review. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 74 (2), 99–104. [Link]

[5] Zucker, K.J., Lawrence, A.A., Kreukels, B.P. (2016). Gender Dysphoria in Adults. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 12: 217-47. [Link]

[6] Bishoy, H., Repack, D., Tarang, P., Guirguis, E., Kumar, G. & Sachdeva, R. (2019). Psychiatric disorders in the U.S. transgender population. Annals of Epidemiology 39: 1-7. [Link]

[7] Dhejne, C., Lichtenstein, P., Boman, M., Johansson, A. L. V., Långström, N., & Landén, M. (2011). Long-term follow-up of transsexual persons undergoing sex reassignment surgery: Cohort study in Sweden. PLoS ONE, 6(2). [Link]