A study in the February 2018 issue of Pediatrics, "Health and Care Utilization of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth: A Population-Based Study," (published online Feb. 5) examines the rates of mental and physical health concerns and health care use by youth who identify as transgender/non-conforming versus cisgender youth. Researchers defined the transgender/gender non-conforming group as those whose gender identity is different than their birth-assigned sex. Cisgender youth reported a gender identity and birth-assigned sex that aligned.
The study used data from more than 80,000 Minnesota students in 9th and 11th grade and asked them whether they identified as transgender, genderqueer, gender fluid, or unsure about their gender. Researchers found that students who are transgender/non-conforming reported significantly poorer health status, lower rates of preventive health check-ups, and more visits to the nurse's office than their cisgender peers. They said that 62 percent of transgender/non-conforming youths reported their overall health as poor or fair, while only 33 percent of cisgender youth reported this level of overall health.
The researchers conclude that youth who are transgender/non-conforming may generally appear healthy and many are utilizing health care services. However, many still self-report less than optimal overall health and health care providers should screen for health risks and identify barriers to care for youth who are transgender/non-conforming. Screening also offers an opportunity to promote and bolster wellness within this community, including identifying resources such as support groups and education of families and parents about the benefits of support.