Older transgender adults have better quality of life after gender treatment
A study has determined that older transgender adults attain a better quality of life after receiving drugs or surgery to help their bodies match their gender identity as compared to younger transgender adults.
The study compared outcomes for transgender adults who were treated before and after the age 60. What it found was that older transgender adults had greater gains in quality of life than their younger counterparts.
Study on quality of life for older transgender adults
The study looked into the research of the psychological benefits of hormones and surgeries that would align transgender people’s outward appearance with their gender identities.
Researchers involved in the study noted in LGBT Health that most of the work in this area has been focused on younger people. The study covered 1,442 transgender men and 978 transgender women, with most of them being white.
“Even though transgender individuals are recommended to medically transition at an early age, old age alone should not deter transgender individuals from seeking gender-affirming medical treatments,” lead study author Xiang Cai of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, said to Reuters in an email.
“Undergoing gender-affirmative medical treatments has shown to be associated with improved psychological wellbeing (e.g., higher life satisfaction and lessened gender dysphoria) among transgender adults, regardless of age,” Cai added.
How older transgender adults fared in the study
The study compared as well participants who didn’t have any gender-affirming treatment.
However, for those who did get the treatment, adults under the age of 60 reported more than twice as high quality of life scores. Meanwhile, those over the age of 60 who got the treatment reported more than eight times as high.
The study authors suggested that older adults gained more because they’ve already developed strategies to cope with the stigma related to their age and gender.
These strategies also helped them cope with the treatment process, even as they had lower expectations after getting the treatment as compared to their younger counterparts.
Overall, those who got gender-affirming treatment had higher quality of life scores as compared those who didn’t. However, transgender women had more pronounced quality of life as compared to transgender women.
Study doesn’t distinguish on treatment options
The study authors admitted their work wasn’t designed to prove if or how gender-affirming treatment impacts quality of life.
They also didn’t distinguish among treatment options like hormone therapy and surgical procedures.
“Gender-affirming therapies are very personal decisions; individuals should consult with their physician and a specialist in gender-affirming therapies to determine their risk of adverse events (based on their medical history and chronic health problems) versus quality of life benefits,” Dr. Marie Crandall, a surgery researcher at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville, told Reuters by email.
Crandall, who wasn’t involved in the study, added: “In terms of surgical gender-affirming therapies, older people are more likely to have chronic health problems and, therefore, more likely to have complications related to surgery such as infections, heart attacks or strokes, to name a few.”
Transgender people: Disconnected between brain and bodies
Dr. Stuart Chipkin, a public health researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who also wasn’t involved in the study, said the benefits of treatment are both physical and psychological.
“Hormone and surgical therapies can help someone look more like how they see themselves and how they want the world to see them,” Chipkin told Reuters by email.
“These treatments also help people to have a less disconnected feeling between their brains and their bodies,” Chipkin said.