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Transgender Mental Health

Transgender mental health refers to the psychological well-being and emotional stability of individuals who identify as transgender. This population faces unique challenges and frequently experiences discrimination, stigma, and societal pressures that have direct impacts on their mental health and physical well-being. As a result, transgender individuals often experience a higher prevalence of mental health and dual-diagnosis disorders. 

Understanding Transgender Mental Health

In order to understand transgender mental health, it is essential first to know what transgender means. The term transgender is used to describe an individual who feels their gender is opposite of their birth gender. A person who identifies as transgender could include:

 

  • A trans male who was born a female but identifies as male or masculine.
  • A trans female who was born male but identifies as female or feminine.
  • A nonbinary individual who does not consider their gender identity as strictly either male or female.

 

Additionally, this community faces numerous challenges, such as discrimination, stigma, rejection from family and friends, gender dysphoria, and navigating societal expectations related to gender identity. Due to these challenges, transgender individuals are at increased risk of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.

Understanding transgender mental health

What Is Gender Dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is the discomfort or distress that occurs when an individual’s assigned gender at birth does not match their internal sense of self. For example, a trans female can experience distress because they have facial hair and lack feminine features, like breasts. This mismatch between one’s body and gender identity can lead to significant emotional distress, confusion, and feelings of alienation.

Why Is Gender Dysphoria So Impactful?

Gender dysphoria can have a direct impact on daily functioning and fitting in socially. Individuals experiencing gender dysphoria often feel uncomfortable in their own bodies and struggle with body image issues or physical dysphoria related to secondary sexual characteristics that do not align with their identified gender. Furthermore, it can be an underlying contributing factor to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, thoughts of self-harm and suicide, and stress.

How Being Transgender Affects Mental Health

Being transgender can have a significant impact on mental health for both adults and teenagers. Some ways in which being transgender affects mental health include:

 

  • Higher rates of mental health disorders: Transgender adults and teenagers are more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm behaviors, and suicidal ideation from gender dysphoria, discrimination, lack of social support, and minority stress compared to their cisgender peers.
  • Increased risk of suicide: Transgender individuals are at a higher risk of suicidal ideation, attempts, and completed suicides as a result of experiencing stigma, rejection, discrimination, and difficulties accessing affirming healthcare services.
  • Substance abuse: Some transgender adults and teens turn to alcohol and substance use as a way to cope with the challenges they face.
  • PTSD and trauma: Transgender individuals may experience higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other forms of trauma due to experiences of discrimination, bullying, violence, or rejection.
  • Bullying and harassment: Transgender teens are at increased risk of being bullied or harassed at school or in social settings due to their gender identity. This can lead to feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and poor mental health outcomes.
  • Family rejection: Some transgender youth may face rejection from family members or lack of support for their gender identity, which can contribute to feelings of loneliness, confusion, and distress.
  • Social isolation: Transgender adults and teens may struggle to find acceptance and support among their peers or in social spaces, leading to feelings of alienation and disconnection that can impact their mental well-being.

Transgender Mental Health Statistics

The prevalence of and trends in transgender mental health reveal some alarming statistics from the 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health as follows:

 

  • 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary individuals attempted suicide.
  • 59 percent of transgender males considered suicide.
  • 22 percent of transgender males attempted suicide.
  • 48 percent of transgender females considered suicide.
  • 12 percent of transgender females attempted suicide.
  • 53 percent of nonbinary individuals considered suicide.
  • 19 percent of nonbinary individuals attempted suicide.
  • 79 percent of transgender males experienced anxiety symptoms.
  • 69 percent of transgender males experienced depression symptoms.
  • 71 percent of transgender females experienced anxiety symptoms.
  • 60 percent of transgender females experienced depression symptoms.
  • 79 percent of nonbinary individuals experienced anxiety symptoms.
  • 65 percent of nonbinary individuals experienced depression symptoms.
  • 55 percent of transgender males were physically threatened or harmed. 
  • 47 percent of transgender females were physically threatened or harmed. 
  • 32 percent of nonbinary individuals were physically threatened or harmed. 

 

These trends underscore the importance of addressing the mental health needs of transgender individuals through inclusive and affirming healthcare services, social support networks, and advocacy efforts to promote overall well-being and reduce disparities in mental health outcomes.

How Prevalent Is Gender Dysphoria?

It is difficult to determine the prevalence of gender dysphoria because not everyone with this emotional condition seeks help. Some individuals keep their condition hidden from others. According to data reported in a National Library of Medicine article, it is estimated that around 1.4 million or 0.6 percent of Americans and 25 million people worldwide experience gender dysphoria. 

The Impact of Being Transgender on Mental Health: Broad Implications

Being transgender has profound impacts on mental health, with broad implications for individuals’ well-being and quality of life. Some of the various ways these impacts directly affect transgender individuals include: 

  • Identity struggles
  • Minority stress
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Social isolation
  • Barriers to healthcare and mental health services
  • Increased risks of substance abuse, mental health disorders, self-harm, and suicide

In addition, being transgender intersects with other aspects of a person’s identity, such as race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation.

Strategies for Managing Gender Dysphoria

Managing gender dysphoria can be a complex and personal process, but there are several strategies that individuals may find helpful in coping with these feelings. Some individuals find therapy with a mental health professional can provide support and help individuals explore their feelings, navigate challenges, and develop coping skills.

Some communities have support groups for transgender individuals. These can offer a sense of community, validation, and connection with others who understand the experience of gender dysphoria.

Seeking gender-affirming care where legally possible could also be beneficial in alleviating gender dysphoria. Another effective strategy is to remember to take care of oneself with activities and hobbies one enjoys, such as journaling, gaming, meditation, exercise, or cooking. 

To address triggers and unsupportive people, it is vital to establish boundaries. Even if they are family members, sometimes cutting off relationships with them can do wonders for one’s mental health and well-being. Instead, surround yourself with supportive friends and family who support you. 

Transgender Mental Health: Conclusion

Addressing mental health needs within the transgender community is crucial in promoting overall well-being and quality of life for individuals who identify as transgender. As we have seen, being transgender can have a significant impact on mental health due to factors such as gender dysphoria, minority stress, discrimination, and social challenges.

 

At Montare Behavioral Health, we offer comprehensive behavioral health treatment programs for transgender individuals, as well as the entire LGBTQ+ community. We provide a safe and comforting environment to explore any mental health issues or co-occurring disorders. Start the path to improved mental health and well-being by contacting us today