217965 Transgender health across the life course: Results from a statewide needs assessment survey with 350 transgender residents of Virginia, 2005-2006

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sari L. Reisner, MA , The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health and Harvard School of Public Heatlh, Boston, MA
Judith B. Bradford, PhD , Community Health Research, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Background: Few population-level data are available to assess the health of transgender populations, and a dearth of research to date has examined transgender health from a life course perspective.

Methods: The Virginia Transgender Health Initiative Study (THIS) enrolled 350 transgender persons (229 male-to-female, 121 female-to-male) to conduct a statewide needs assessment in 2005-2006 funded by the Virginia DPH. Participants completed a one-time survey capturing demographics, transgender status, gender-based violence, and health outcomes. Analyses examined age of gender awareness and gender transition in relation to experiences of violence and psychosocial health.

Results: Participants (mean age=37.1, SD=12.7, range=19-69; 62% white) first became aware that their internal gender did not match their body or physical appearance at mean age 11.1 (SD=7.8); however, they did not seek access to gender transition services until mean age 29.0 (SD=11.9). Between first age of gender awareness and seeking transgender-related care, participants self-reported an array of experiences poorly affecting their health: 37% physically attacked (mean age first attack 19.6, SD=11.2), 26% forced sex (mean age first forced sex 14.3, SD=7.5), 25% attempted suicide (mean age first suicide attempt 17.5, SD=7.4), 23% tobacco problem (first aware at mean age 21.9, SD=9.2), and 22% drinking problem (first aware at mean age 22.8, SD=7.5).

Conclusion: These findings consider a “transgender life course”, suggesting that gender and psychosocial trajectories may be interwoven in influencing health outcomes for transgender persons. Additional research is needed, especially using prospective and longitudinal study designs, to examine transgender health across the life course.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe findings from a needs assessment of 350 transgender Virginians; discuss implications for future research efforts integrating a life course epidemiologic perspective to examine the “transgender life course”.

Keywords: Health Disparities, Special Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Sari Reisner is the Epidemiology Projects Manager at The Fenway Institute, Fenway Health in Boston, Massachusetts. He has more than 8 years of experience coordinating and managing public health projects, including 3 years of professional grant writing experience and 5 years of experience managing research projects focused on the social and behavioral determinants of health. Reisner’s behavioral science research interests focus on the intersection of mental and physical health, including substance abuse intervention development, health psychology and behavioral medicine within the context of serious illness (HIV/AIDS and cancer), and the social epidemiology of mental illness and substance abuse in marginalized populations, in particular among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender populations. He has co-authored more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles (either published or in press), and has presented his work at both national and international scientific conferences, including the Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, and the International AIDS Conference. In addition, he currently serves as a reviewer for Journal of Urban Health, AIDS Care, AIDS and Behavior, Traumatology, and JANAC, and is an editorial consultant for the American College of Physicians, Physicians Information and Education Resource (PIER). Reisner is a full-time Doctoral student at Harvard School of Public Health in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health. He earned a Master’s degree from Brandeis University and a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.