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Study Shows Broad Mental Health Improvements With Transgender Hormone Therapy

by Gabe Murchison February 10, 2016

A new study in the journal Transgender Health adds to evidence that gender-affirming medical care broadly and markedly improves mental health for transgender people.

Jaclyn White Hughto of Yale School of Public Health and Sari Reisner of Harvard Medical School analyzed three studies of transgender men and women who began hormone therapy as part of gender transition. Across studies, participants reported significantly less depression and anxiety three to twelve months after beginning to use hormones. Indeed, the studies found improvements in almost every form of mental health and well being they measured.

Previous research found that a combination of hormone therapy and gender-confirming surgeries is effective at improving transgender patients’ mental health. This paper is the first to analyze studies of hormone therapy alone. The authors explain that medical treatment for gender dysphoria—clinically significant distress related to one’s initially assigned sex and gender—is individualized, but hormone therapy is a typical first step.

While many public and private health plans recognize hormone therapy as medically necessary and effective, some still deny coverage due to bias or a failure to review the latest scientific evidence.

HRC has advocated for policies and regulations that make gender-affirming care financially accessible, pushing for an end to discriminatory exclusions in public and private health plans. Simultaneously, HRC’s Corporate Equality Index helps major employers provide more inclusive benefits. In the 2016 Index, more than 500 participating businesses provided a transgender-inclusive plan, over ten times the 2009 count.

In 2015, HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index provided over 30,000 hours of LGBT health training—including 8,400 hours of transgender-specific content—to staff at U.S. healthcare facilities. Transgender hormone therapy is straightforward enough for most primary care providers to manage, so basic training in transgender health can increase the number of clinicians offering this care.

Click here to learn more about HRC’s work on transgender equality and inclusion.

Click here to learn more about transgender-inclusive benefits.

Gabe Murchison
Gabe Murchison


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