JOURNAL ARTICLE

Baseline Physiologic and Psychosocial Characteristics of Transgender Youth Seeking Care for Gender Dysphoria

Johanna Olson, Sheree M Schrager, Marvin Belzer, Lisa K Simons, Leslie F Clark
Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine 2015, 57 (4): 374-80
26208863

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to describe baseline characteristics of participants in a prospective observational study of transgender youth (aged 12-24 years) seeking care for gender dysphoria at a large, urban transgender youth clinic.

METHODS: Eligible participants presented consecutively for care at between February 2011 and June 2013 and completed a computer-assisted survey at their initial study visit. Physiologic data were abstracted from medical charts. Data were analyzed by descriptive statistics, with limited comparisons between transmasculine and transfeminine participants.

RESULTS: A total of 101 youth were evaluated for physiologic parameters, 96 completed surveys assessing psychosocial parameters. About half (50.5%) of the youth were assigned a male sex at birth. Baseline physiologic values were within normal ranges for assigned sex at birth. Youth recognized gender incongruence at a mean age of 8.3 years (standard deviation = 4.5), yet disclosed to their family much later (mean = 17.1; standard deviation = 4.2). Gender dysphoria was high among all participants. Thirty-five percent of the participants reported depression symptoms in the clinical range. More than half of the youth reported having thought about suicide at least once in their lifetime, and nearly a third had made at least one attempt.

CONCLUSIONS: Baseline physiologic parameters were within normal ranges for assigned sex at birth. Transgender youth are aware of the incongruence between their internal gender identity and their assigned sex at early ages. Prevalence of depression and suicidality demonstrates that youth may benefit from timely and appropriate intervention. Evaluation of these youth over time will help determine the impact of medical intervention and mental health therapy.

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