Comparative Risks and Benefits of Gender Reassignment Therapies

The goal of this study is to understand the short- and long-term health issues among transgender persons who had or are planning to have a sex change treatment. Members of the transgender community and their doctors express concerns about mental and physical health problems in this group of people; however, large studies of transgender persons in the United States have not been conducted. This project is an electronic medical record based study evaluating a group of 6,500 transgender individuals, whose care is covered by the Veterans Administration (nationally) or by Kaiser Permanente (in Georgia and in Northern and Southern California). In this study, we will compare frequencies of various diseases and deaths from various causes in transgender persons and separately in those who request female-to-male and male-to-female sex change to similar measures in a sample of men and women who are not transgender and are of the same age and race. We will also compare health problems by treatment categories (e.g., no medical treatment, versus treatment with hormones only, versus hormones plus surgery). The proposed project will be carried out by a team that includes experts in chronic and infectious diseases, mental disorders, and sexual minority health issues. All of the project activities will be implemented in consultation with the study advisors who will serve as advocates for the transgender community. This will likely be the largest study of transgender persons available to date, and the first study of its kind conducted in the United States.

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