New study suggests trans people more likely to come from poorer backgrounds

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New research has revealed that trans people are more likely to live in more-deprived areas and have worse mental health than the wider population.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of College London and published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday (29 November), analysed the medical records of more than seven million people, to identify trends among the transgender community.

Levels of deprivation in different areas was measured by comparing rates of employment, home and car ownership, and income and education, with cities such as Nottingham and Bradford being classified as some of the most deprived in Britain.

The research found people living in such areas are two-and-a-half times as likely to be trans.

Dr Doug McKechnie, the lead author of the study, said: “We do not know why more individuals from deprived areas had a transgender code in their records, and if this really means that there are more transgender people in those areas, or if they are simply more likely to be recorded as such in the NHS GP [general practitioner] records.

“Transgender people face stigma and discrimination in society, potentially leading to exclusion from employment, education and family support, which might make them more likely to move to deprived areas. Some areas might also be more ‘trans friendly’ than others.

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“Another possibility is that transgender people in affluent areas were more likely to access specialist gender care privately, bypassing their GP and the long NHS gender clinic waiting list entirely.”

As the data relies on GP records, there is the potential for the results to be an underrepresentation because it relies on people going to their doctor in the first place.

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The research also found the number of trans people in the UK has increased greatly since the year 2000, with those reported as living with gender dysphoria rising from one in 15,000 at the start of the millennium to more than one in 2,500 by 2018.

In terms of age groups, those aged 16 and 17 were the most likely to be transgender.

Trans patients were also found to be more likely to have mental health issues and higher rates of substance abuse.

This appears to back up earlier research carried out by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, in Los Angeles, which showed 81 per cent of trans adults had contemplated suicide compared with 35 per cent of cisgender peers. 

It showed 42 per cent of trans adults attempted to take their own life, compared with 11 per cent of cisgender adults.

Research has also revealed that access to trans healthcare dramatically improves trans people’s mental health and wellbeing.

In September, a landmark study in Australia discovered that providing people with gender-affirming care resulted in a 55 per cent reduction in suicidality, as well as a decrease in depression and gender dysphoria.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact the Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in America can contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by texting 988 (988lifeline.org).

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