Trans people more likely to experience dementia and autism, major study finds
Trans and non-binary people are more likely to experience serious long-term mental-health issues than the rest of the population, according to a new study.
Research conducted by the University of Cambridge found transgender adults are far more likely to develop conditions such as dementia or cognitive disabilities later in life.
The study, published on Tuesday (7 February), was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, as part of an annual GP patient survey.
University of Cambridge researcher, and the study’s author, Dr Katie Saunders, said she hoped the findings would lead to improvements in treatment for trans people.
“There are currently very few guidelines for GPs on how to care for trans or non-binary patients,” she said.
“We hope the evidence we’re presenting will help change this.”
Respondents were found to be three times more likely to be living with 10 out of the 15 long-term mental-health conditions listed in the survey, including learning disabilities or dementia and were six times more likely to be autistic.
In addition, the small number of trans respondents from the 850,000 people analysed by researchers were more likely to be non-white and non-heterosexual.
“These findings are consistent with other studies looking at long-term conditions among trans and non-binary adults,” Dr Saunders said.
“The reasons for these differences compared [with] the general population are likely to be complex.
“It shouldn’t be too surprising that these communities experience higher rates of mental-health problems, given media reporting around issues such as the Gender Recognition Act.“
Dr Saunders also noted that issues could arise from a mixture of “stress, experiences of discrimination, socioeconomic status, and the biological effects of hormone treatments.”
Trans respondents prefer the same GP for each appointment
While there was reportedly no difficulty in accessing primary care, two-thirds of respondents said they preferred to speak to their GP about gender identity.
Of this group, trans people were less likely to be involved in decisions about care and treatment compared with their cis counterparts, while fewer were satisfied with the care provided.
Around 77 per cent of trans and non-binary people said their needs were met during GP appointments, compared with 87 per cent of cis respondents.
The survey also found trans people prefer to see the same GP for each appointment.
“If you are trans or non-binary, then every time you see a new GP you are forced to decide whether to come out or not,” Dr Saunders continued.
“Once you find a GP who understands your needs, you will want to see them each time you have an appointment.”
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