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Gender-Affirming Surgery Tied to Better Mental Health

WEDNESDAY, May 5, 2021 -- Gender-affirming surgery is associated with improved mental health outcomes among transgender and gender-diverse individuals, according to a study published online April 28 in JAMA Surgery.

Anthony N. Almazan and Alex S. Keuroghlian, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, used data from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (27,715 transgender and gender-diverse adults) to identify respondents who endorsed undergoing one or more types of gender-affirming surgery at least two years prior to submitting survey responses (exposure group; 3,559 respondents) and respondents who endorsed a desire for one or more types of gender-affirming surgery but denied undergoing any gender-affirming surgeries (comparison group; 16,401 respondents).

The researchers report that 81.1 percent of respondents were between the ages of 18 and 44 years, 82.1 percent identified as White, 38.8 percent identified as transgender women, 32.5 percent identified as transgender men, and 26.6 percent identified as nonbinary. Undergoing one or more types of gender-affirming surgery was associated with lower past-month psychological distress (adjusted odds ratio, 0.58), past-year smoking (adjusted odds ratio, 0.65), and past-year suicidal ideation (adjusted odds ratio, 0.56), when adjusting for sociodemographic factors and exposure to other types of gender-affirming care.

"These results contribute new evidence to support the provision of gender-affirming surgical care for transgender and gender diverse people," the authors write.

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