Health and wellbeing of transgender people in Australia and New Zealand

Published: August 1, 2008

Health and wellbeing of transgender people in Australia and New Zealand

Background: Studies investigating health and wellbeing of transgender people have typically been conducted in clinical and medical environments. Studies of community samples of transgender people are few due to difficulties associated with recruiting from a small, highly dispersed and somewhat marginalized population. Recently, a number of studies have advocated the use of online surveys to capture what has been described as “a hidden sexual minority”. The anonymity of an online survey provides an opportunity for participants to protect their identity, and reduces fear of discovery or being ‘outed’ in terms of their non-conforming gender identity or feelings.

Methods: This study set out to investigate health and well-being of a community sample of transgender people from across Australia and New Zealand recruited via an online survey.

Results: In total, 287 transgender respondents completed the survey. Of these, 229 were from Australia (90.5%) and 24 (9.5%) were from New Zealand. Respondents reported the sex recorded on their original birth certificate: 75.5% (191) reported male and 24.5% (62) female. Respondents rated their health on a five point scale; the majority of the sample rated their health as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ (35.2% and 28.9% respectively). On the SF36 scale, participants had poorer health ratings than the general population in Australia and New Zealand. Participants reported rates of depression much higher than those found in the general Australian and New Zealand population, with assigned males being twice as likely to experience depression as assigned females. A quarter of participants reported suicidal thoughts in the two weeks prior to the survey. Respondents who had experienced greater discrimination were more likely to report being currently depressed.

Conclusions: For transgender people, health issues associated with gender and transitioning are multi-faceted; negative experiences with health services are common but positive interaction with the medical community can be a profoundly legitimating experience.

-Abstract available at link below-

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