American Medical Association Releases Study Links Gender-Affirming Surgeries to Positive Mental Health Outcomes | Equitas Health

Blog 4/28/21

American Medical Association Releases Study Links Gender-Affirming Surgeries to Positive Mental Health Outcomes

A study published by the American Medical Association (AMA) study on April 28, 2021 provides an extremely convincing and encouraging explanation as to why more and more transgender and gender diverse people are asking for gender-affirming surgeries. The studied analyzed data from almost 28,000 transgender and gender diverse U.S. adults. This groundbreaking study, and the largest known of its kind to date, found significant proof that access to gender-affirming surgeries improves mental health outcomes.

In particular, the AMA study found that respondents who had undergone at least one gender-affirming surgery in the two years before they took the survey were significantly less likely to have experienced psychological distress in the past month, smoking in the past year, and thoughts of suicide in the past year. Respondents who reported undergoing all desired gender-affirming surgeries also had much lower occurrences of binge drinking in the past month and suicide attempts in the past year. In addition, the overall impact of these positive outcomes was greater for respondents who received all desired surgeries compared to those who received some desired surgeries.

The AMA study confirms what Mimi Rivard, Equitas Health’s director of gender-affirming care, already knew from providing years of patient-centered, gender-affirming care. “A lot of our patients come to us for gender-affirming care, like gender-affirming hormone therapy,” Rivard said, “and then once they’re here, experiencing what is often their first positive healthcare environment, they realize that overall health is within reach.” And like the AMA, Rivard has the data to back it up. Among a sample of 995 Equitas Health Gender-Affirming Care patients over a five-year period:

  • 96% have healthy blood pressure, compared to 68% of American adults.
  • 87% of those living with HIV have achieved viral suppression, compared to 49% of all people living with HIV nationwide.
  • 80% of those living with diabetes have controlled their blood sugar levels, a remarkable achievement given that nearly one in four adults living with diabetes is not aware they have it.
  • The trend continues for smoking cessation, mental health diagnoses, and chronic disease prevention.

The affirmation of smaller studies that observed positive health outcomes associated with gender-affirming care has an enormous impact on improving access to gender-affirming care. Organizations, like the American Psychiatric Association, will now be able to write much more robust guidelines for providing gender-affirming care with the amount of statistically significant evidence supplied by the AMA study. Rivard is optimistic that this will make more healthcare providers aware of the benefits and need for gender-affirming care. “While politicians continue to legislate the unethical withholding of medical and surgical care based on gender identity, I am hopeful that healthcare providers will pay attention to the findings in the AMA’s study,” said Rivard. “If they do, it could save thousands of lives.”

To learn more about the AMA’s study, click here.