Is Being Transgender Caused By A Hormone Imbalance? Of Course Not, Says Study, So Let's Stop Talking About It Like It Is
Any member of the LGBT community is all-too-familiar with attempts from non-queer people to explain away their sexuality: "Being transgender is caused by a hormone imbalance." "Bisexuals are just curious or attention-seeking." "Asexuals don't exist; they just haven't met the right person yet."
All of this, of course, is complete nonsense, but once someone chooses to believe something, it's nigh impossible to change their mind — especially when they demand scientific evidence to the contrary, despite having no research supporting their own views. This week, though, researchers at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles published a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health that could put at least one aspect of the conversation to rest once and for all. According to their findings, gender dysphoria is not caused by a hormone imbalance. Period. The study looked at the baseline characteristics of 101 patients between the ages of 12 and 24 who identified as transgender, and the researchers found that their sex hormones were consistent with the gender they were assigned at birth. "We’ve now put to rest the residual belief that transgender experience is a result of a hormone imbalance. It’s not," lead researcher Dr. Johanna Olson said. By extension, this means that transgender people cannot be "cured" of their experience, because there is nothing physiologically abnormal.
Still, though, transgender individual continue to face extremely difficult challenges. According to the study, patients reported that they began experiencing feelings of gender dysphoria at the average age of eight, but they didn't disclose them to their families until 17 years old, on average. "Living with this 'secret' for such a long period of time may have a negative impact on mental health," researchers wrote in a press release.
In addition to discrimination that turns violent with disturbing frequency, transgender individuals have much higher rates of mental illness than cisgender individuals. In this particular study, more than half of patients said they considered suicide, and 30 percent had made an attempt. Shockingly, that's actually lower than the national statistic — in a 2010 study, 41 percent of transgender individuals reported attempting suicide. According to the American Psychological Association, this rate is 25 times higher than the general population.Despite the appalling statistics, there are ways to improve the challenges faced by transgender individuals. A study earlier this year indicated that mental health improves in youths who are allowed to transition, and family support has also been shown to predict healthy self-esteem. The younger population, at least, has someone looking out for them. "My goal is to move kids who are having a gender atypical experience from survive to thrive," Dr. Olson said regarding her study. Now that transgender individuals are finally allowed to make their voices heard, things will hopefully start looking up. Image: Giphy