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Change in Gender on Record and Transgender Adults’ Mental or Behavioral Health

Published:December 15, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2021.10.016

      Introduction

      Within gender-diverse populations, gender-affirming changes in gender on record may improve mental or behavioral health. This study uses claims data to investigate whether sex assigned at birth modifies the association between change in gender on record and mental or behavioral health.

      Methods

      Adult Oregon Medicaid beneficiaries with gender identity–related diagnoses and enrolled during 2010–2019 were included. Sex assigned at birth was inferred from medical and pharmacy claims and was categorized as assigned female, assigned male, or unknown sex assigned at birth. Self-reported gender ascertained at initial enrollment differing from sex assigned at birth indicated a change in gender on record. Multivariable logistic regression estimated the association between change in gender on record and mental (anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, post-traumatic stress disorder) or behavioral (alcohol, substance, or tobacco use disorders) health. Analyses were conducted in February 2021.

      Results

      This study included 2,940 transgender and nonbinary adults. Of the 1,451 self-reporting female gender and 1,489 self-reporting male gender, 449 (30.9%) were assigned male at birth, and 303 (20.3%) were assigned female at birth, classified as changing their gender on record. Predicted probability of mental or behavioral conditions was significantly lower in those who changed their gender on record. Sex assigned at birth modified the association with mental health: assigned female at birth reporting female gender had the highest burdens, followed by assigned male at birth reporting male. Secondary analyses using a modified change in gender definition or alternative sex assigned at birth inference method found similar trends.

      Conclusions

      Oregon Medicaid gender-diverse beneficiaries who changed their gender on record had a meaningfully lower probability of mental and behavioral health conditions. Those assigned female at birth reporting female gender had the highest burdens.
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