Transgender conversion tactics tied to psychological distress, suicide risk

  • Turban JL & al.
  • JAMA Psychiatry
  • 11/09/2019

  • Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Transgender adults with recalled lifetime exposure to gender identity conversion efforts (GICE) had a significantly higher risk for mental health problems and suicide attempts, especially for those whose GICE experience came before the age of 10 years.

Why this matters

  • Even though direct comparisons are not possible, the number of transgender individuals in this study who reported lifetime exposure to conversion therapy (14%) was higher than the rate of 6.7% reported in a previous study of exposure among cisgender nonheterosexual individuals.

Study design

  • Cross-sectional 2015 US Transgender Survey of 27,715 transgender adults (mean age, 31.2 years).
  • Outcome: severe psychological distress (score of ≥13 on Kessler Psychological Distress Scale).
  • Funding: Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Primary Health Care.

Key results

  • 14.0% of the respondents were exposed to GICE.
  • Exposure to GICE was associated with increased risk for severe psychological distress during the previous month (aOR, 1.56; P<.001 and suicide attempts p>
  • 206 respondents reported exposure to GICE before age 10 years; risk for lifetime suicide attempts was 4-fold higher in these individuals (aOR, 4.15; P<.001>
  • GICE enacted by religious advisors and secular professionals had similar outcomes (all aOR; P>.001)

Limitations

  • Survey-based study.