Transgender mental health Mental well-being Inclusivity Health disparities Trans support systems Mental health resources Gender identity Transgender wellness LGBTQ+ mental health Affirmative care
Mental Health

Understanding mental health in the transgender community

Mental health issues are prevalent, with around one in every five persons experiencing issues in a single year. However, the transgender community has significantly greater rates. Many trans persons suffer from a number of psychological issues.

There are several reasons why trans persons are more inclined to experience psychological issues. And, tragically, most of them are about surviving in an environment that is hostile to transgender individuals. Rather than being accepted and valued for who they are, Transgender people frequently face bigotry, bias, prejudice, fears of physical danger, and incidents of violence.

If you have psychological issues, Support from relatives, close companions, and even a professional counselor can make all the difference. Sadly, not everybody who is transgender has an effective support network.

The plus side is that you can do something to help. Continue reading to discover about mental health problems in the trans community, how and why they occur, and what you can do to help.

But first, what exactly is transgender?

Transgender refers to those who have a gender identity that varies from the cultural and social norms of the binary sex given to them at birth. A transgender person could be:

  • A trans man or boy is a person born female who considers a man or something more masculine.
  • A trans woman or girl is a person born male who is defined as female as well as feminine.
  • Nonbinary – A person who does not identify with their gender identity solely as male or female.

Concerns about transgender psychological wellness

To be simple, transgender identity is not a disorder of the mind. However, transgender people have higher rates of sadness, anxiety, and suicidal ideation than those who are not transgender. Individuals who identify as transgender have the greatest prevalence of psychological issues among LGBTQ people. Among the specific psychological issues are:

Anxiety within the transgender community

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Anxiety disorders are the most frequent psychological concern in the United States, impacting approximately one in every five adults. 

Anxiety levels are considerably greater in the transgender community. According to certain studies, practically every transgender person suffers from anxiety.

  • According to the Rainbow Health poll, more than 90% of transgender Minnesotans are uneasy at least one day per week, and almost half are worried, anxious, or on edge 5-7 days per week.
  • Up to 79% of trans children suffer worry, According to the Trevor Project’s national survey of LGBTQ adolescents.

Depression among transgender people

Everybody gets sad now and then. However, for other people, depression makes it impossible to enjoy life. According to surveys, the majority of transgender people experience depression at least once a week.

  • According to the Rainbow Health survey, approximately 85% of transgender Minnesotans experience weekly depression, and 36% experience depression at least five days per week.
  • According to the Trevor Project report, up to 69% of trans kids have depression symptoms.

In comparison, approximately 5-6% of the overall population suffers from depression on a regular basis.

Suicide Rates among Transgender Community

People consider suicide for a variety of reasons, and it is more often than we would like. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, approximately 0.5% (or 1 in 200) of adults have attempted suicide at least once.

Sadly, the suicide rate among transgender people is significantly greater. According to the Trevor Project poll, over fifty percent of transgender kids thought about suicide in 2021, and nearly 1 in 5 tried suicide.

Why are transgender people more likely to experience psychological disorders?

For transgender people, the cause of psychological issues is frequently a combination of internal and environmental circumstances.

A study on the causes of suicidal thoughts among transgender youth, for example, discovered that “school belonging, being emotionally neglected by family, and absorbed self-stigma all made an unusual, statistically important impact to past 6-month suicidality.”

Discrimination, transphobia, financial insecurity, and medical issues are all factors that lead to a higher prevalence of psychological problems in the trans community.

Gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a common mental issue among transgender people. Gender dysphoria causes severe distress since a person’s internal sense of self does not match the sex given at birth or their physique. A trans man, for example, may be concerned about getting breasts because they do not belong on his body. Because he has breasts, he may be subjected to frequent misgendering and misconceptions about his sexual orientation.

Gender dysphoria interferes with someone’s capacity to participate in daily activities such as jobs or social engagements. It can also result in psychological issues like anxiety, depression, and ongoing stress.

Gender dysphoria is most typically felt before taking measures to match one’s life – and occasionally one’s body – with one’s gender identity. When a person makes adjustments that confirm their gender identity, their pain from gender dysphoria usually improves or disappears totally.

Insufficient support from relatives and close friends

When an individual decides to transition, not everybody is sympathetic and welcoming; according to the Trevor Project survey, less than 1 in every 3 homes is sexuality-affirming for transgender youth.

When a trans person begins to show their sexual orientation, they may face bullying, disapproval, and rejection from friends and family. Unsupportive families may refuse to accept a person’s chosen identity and pronouns. They may also be unpleasant or unwelcoming to LGBTQ friends and lovers. Unfortunately, trans youth who do not feel supported are more likely to think about or try suicide.

Even more alarming, more than 1 in every 5 transgender youth reported being blackmailed with or forced to conversion therapy in order to “treat” their gender identity so that it fits the one assigned to them at birth. However, transformation treatment is unethical and ineffective. It is also harmful to one’s psychological well-being, raising one’s chances of anxiety, depressive disorders, and suicide.

Feelings of loneliness or isolation

If a trans person is concerned about how their close companions would respond, they may withhold details regarding their gender recognition and emotions. They may avoid social situations or dread family reunions because they fear that nobody is going to embrace them for who they truly are. Keeping such a vital part of oneself hidden from others can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Loneliness has a damaging effect on psychological wellness, raising the likelihood of sadness, anxiety, and low self-esteem. According to the Rainbow Health survey, approximately 85% of trans people reported feeling isolated and depressed at least once each week.

Discrimination based on race and culture

People who identify as transgender are more inclined to face harassment in everyday situations. According to the Trevor Project poll, 71% of transgender youth have faced harassment because of their sexual orientation. When people face discrimination, it can lead to or worsen psychological problems.

There are also more anti-trans rules and suggested laws aimed at stopping transgender persons from accepting their gender identities. This is cause for concern, 93% of transgender kids surveyed by the Trevor Project expressed anxiety that transgender persons will be refused access to gender-affirming medical care owing to state or local limitations.

Problems at school or at work

While certain laws provide protection on the job or at educational institutions, they are not always sufficient. Transgender people frequently face microaggressions such as being addressed by the wrong name and pronouns, as well as difficulties using the loo that corresponds to their gender identification.

Because hostile attitudes persist even in these safe spaces, it can be challenging for trans persons to feel at ease and thrive. According to the Trevor Project poll, just around half of trans youth believed their school provided a gender-affirming environment.

Other health issues

Physical and emotional health are inextricably linked, but many trans persons do not receive the care they require to maintain their health. Around 20% of trans people report being denied care or being treated harshly by physicians who oppose gender-affirming care. A lot of people have questions about their healthcare experience.

According to the Rainbow Health poll, 29% of trans persons in Minnesota delay visiting medical appointments because they believe they will not be acknowledged or welcomed. As a result, transgender people may not receive preventive care, such as breast cancer screenings, to help them keep well.

Financial insecurity

Financial stability and psychological wellness are inextricably linked. Someone is more likely to feel nervous and worried if they don’t know where they’ll get their next meal or where they’ll sleep at night. Sadly, transgender people are frequently less wealthy than others.

According to the Rainbow Health poll, more than one-third of transgender persons in Minnesota had run out of food before having sufficient funds to purchase more, and 43% have experienced homelessness.

Concerns about insurance

Trans persons are more likely than everyone else to be uninsured. In 2020, 8.6% of the overall population did not have health coverage, according to the United States Census Bureau. According to the Rainbow Health survey, the percentage of uninsured trans individuals in Minnesota is over twice as high, at 17.7%.

However, simply having insurance is not always sufficient. According to the Rainbow Health survey, 40% of trans persons in Minnesota avoided going to the doctor in the previous year due to expenses.

Insurance companies do not often cover gender-affirming therapies such as puberty-blocking medications, hormone replacement therapy, and surgery. However, if a trans person is unable to obtain the healthcare required to verify their gender, they might keep experiencing feelings of sadness and anxiety as a result of gender dysphoria. That is why HealthPartners works tirelessly to make sure that crucial gender-affirming care is protected by our health plans.

Transphobia and transgender hate

According to the Rainbow Health poll, 70% of transgender Minnesotans have suffered emotional abuse or harassment in recent years because of their sexuality or gender identity. Furthermore, more than one-third had been physically assaulted or afraid.

According to the Trevor Project poll, 37% of transgender children across the country have been violently harassed or mistreated because of their sexual orientation.

Violence is very upsetting for trans women and girls. According to the Trevor Project poll, 55% of transgender girls had been sexually harassed or harmed. And trans women of color are the most frequently targeted victims of transgender and gender-nonconforming assault.

What you can do to help the transgender community’s psychological well-being

The prevalence of mental health issues among the trans community, as well as the reasons behind them, is distressing. However, you can make things easier for transgender people just by being friendly helpful, polite, and respectful.

In fact, according to the Trevor Project poll, kids were less than half as likely to attempt suicide in an environment that was very tolerant of their sexual orientation as they were in one that was relatively intolerant. These are some of the things you may do to help a transgender person’s psychological well-being:

Encourage their gender identification

Proper usage of the name someone selected and pronouns can be considered one of the most effective ways to encourage transgender people. Inquire about their pronouns and use them. If you observe another person use the incorrect name or gender, respectfully correct them.

Assist them in receiving therapy

According to the Trevor Project poll, 82% of young people needed psychological care in the previous year. However, just 40% of individuals who requested psychological care received it.

The problem was that parents or carers declined to get their child counseling. The main issue was that students were afraid of asking for approval and simply did not ask.

If you are worried about the psychological well-being of your child, avoid waiting for them to inquire about counseling. Inform them that many individuals can benefit from counseling and ask them if they are ready. Then, look for a therapist who specializes in gender-affirming care or is adept at working with persons of varied gender identities; you should be able to uncover this data by reading a therapist’s bio on their official website.

Link them to gender-affirming care.

Receiving appropriate health care can be difficult for transgender people. Going to a medical facility can also be stressful if a trans person is compelled to sign in with their official name or sees the incorrect gender on their medical wristband.

HealthPartners is taking steps to alter this. We are committed to offering a gender-affirming service from beginning to end. Our gender medicine specialists have a wealth of expertise in dealing with clients of various gender identities. 

Respect transgender issues

Transgender people do not always enjoy the same rights as gender-conforming people, such as when it comes to living in the public sector, receiving health care, and using toilets according to their gender.

Learning and talking out against intolerance and prejudice can be ways to demonstrate support for transgender people. Find out more about transgender concerns here:

  • The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • National Center for Transgender Equality
  • Human Rights Campaign

Get help for psychological issues.

The psychological well-being of everyone should be their number one concern. If someone is in distress, it is critical that they receive the necessary treatment and help.

Finding the proper therapist can assist transgender persons in working through psychological issues resulting from gender dysphoria, prejudice, loneliness, trauma, and other causes. A mental health expert can also assist a client in obtaining drugs to treat their psychological problems if necessary.