Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy in Teens for Better Mental Health
Tragically, transgender and nonbinary (TNB) teenagers disproportionately suffer from poor mental health, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.
But multiple recent studies have found that gender affirming medical intervention in teenagers – including gender affirming hormone therapy – is associated with lower odds of depression and suicidality in the short-term and improved mental health as adults.
Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy for Transgender Teenagers
GAHT involves the administration of estrogen (in transgender women) or testosterone (in transgender men) to help align their physical characteristics with their gender identity. One of the biggest benefits of starting gender affirming hormone therapy during a person’s adolescence is that it enables them to go through the steps of puberty in a way that matches their gender identity.
Conversely, when transgender teenagers are forced to go through puberty in a body that is developing physical characteristics that do not match their gender identity, it can be tremendously psychologically damaging.
JAMA Study on Teens’ Mental Health & Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy
In February of 2022 a study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examining the affect of gender-affirming therapy on the short-term mental health of TNB teens.
That research included 104 transgender / nonbinary teen and young adult participants aged 13 to 20 years. In that study, receipt of gender-affirming medical care (including puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormone therapy), was associated with a 60% lower incidence of moderate or severe depression, and a 73% lower rate of suicidality over the 12-month follow-up period.
The conclusion of the study’s authors was that there is quantitative evidence to support the fact that access to gender affirming puberty blockers and/or GAHT was associated with mental health improvements in transgender/ nonbinary youth over the following year.
Stanford Study on Adult Mental Health & Teen Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy
Early this year Stanford University School of Medicine also released a study on the benefits of administering gender affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) to teenagers. That research demonstrated that TNB adults who had begun receiving GAHT as teens had better mental health and fewer major mental health disorders as adults than those who waited until adulthood to receive gender affirming hormone therapy.
That pioneering research also determined that transgender men and women who began GAHT when they were teens were less likely to experience suicidal thoughts and were less prone to substance abuse as adults.
The Stanford study on teen GAHT was published on the website PLOS ONE and was compiled from data extracted from the largest-ever survey taken of more than 27,000 U.S. transgender adults. (It is important to note that because some TBI individuals do not want gender affirming hormone therapy, the study focused only on the 21,598 people who had wanted to receive hormones.)
Of the survey respondents:
- 119 began GAHT at age 14 or 15,
- 362 began GAHT at age 16 or 17,
- 12,257 began GAHT after their 18th birthday,
- 8,860 participants wanted but never received GAHT.
The impact of gender affirming hormone therapy on mental health was unequivocal. TNB respondents who underwent hormone therapy had lower incidences of:
- severe psychological disorder during the past month
- suicidal ideation in the previous year
- binge drinking in the past month
- any illicit drug use as an adult
In fact, the odds of severe psychological distress were reduced by 222% when gender affirming hormone therapy was started in early adolescence (age 14 to 15); reduced 153% when GAHT was started between age 16 or 17; and was 81% less for those who began gender affirming hormone therapy in adulthood.
Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy | Santa Fe
These studies add to the overwhelming amount of existing evidence that confirms gender affirming medical care is extremely beneficial from a mental health perspective for TNB individuals. And further, we now know that starting TNB teens with gender affirming hormone therapy (rather than making them wait until adulthood) is the clear pathway to better short term and long term mental health.
Dr. Lynore Martinez and Rebecca Fredman, AGNP-C are proud to offer gender affirming hormone therapy to help transgender and nonbinary men, women and teens live as their authentic selves. Choosing your gender affirming hormone therapy is a lifetime commitment. We offer a supportive, caring, and knowledgeable approach to helping you make this decision. Schedule a consultation to discuss gender affirming hormone therapy with Dr. Lynore Martinez or Rebecca Fredman, AGNP-Cat at Live Well Functional Medicine in Santa Fe, NM today.
Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy | Santa Fe: 505-988-4922
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as general information only and is not intended to be used as medical advice. While the benefits of hormone replacement are well documented through clinical research, only your treating physician can determine if hormone replacement therapy may be a beneficial for you, based on your age, overall health, risk factors, and lifestyle.