Community Psychiatry’s Leela Magavi, M.D. was featured in Verywell Mind discussing the mental health issues that the transgender population face. 

Transgender Individuals Face High Risk of Mental Health Issues, Studies Show

By: Elizabeth Millard | October 30, 2020

Transgender people have a higher risk of stigma associated with negative mental health issues, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Transgender Health.

But, the researchers add, outcomes are improved through protective factors like the support of friends and family and a sense of belonging to a transgender community.

Looking at nearly 1,000 transgender people living in Aotearoa/New Zealand, researchers assessed a wide range of stressful experiences in addition to protective resources and relationships. They calculated probabilities that transgender individuals would exhibit very high psychological distress, pursue self-injury, or consider suicide.

Facing Uncertainty Around Identity

For some individuals, being uncertain about how they perceive their gender can impair mental health functionality, according to Leela Magavi, M.D., psychiatrist and regional medical director for Community Psychiatry, a California-based mental health service.

“Imagine if your foundation is shaky, how this would affect your interactions with others, and ability to partake in almost any activity,” she says. “Meanwhile, some individuals might be certain in regards to who they are, but their loved ones do not accept or support them. This could lead to the emergence of depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts.”

“Many suffer in silence or feel ostracized by people and communities they once trusted, she added. That can add to the mental health burden by feeling isolated. This year has brought other potential complications as well, says Magavi.

“During this time, many black LGBTQIA individuals, especially, are struggling with perpetuated, systemic racism and are wondering if they’re in danger because of who they are,” she states. “This lamentable truth necessitates physicians to advocate even more for all their LGBTQIA patients.”

Finding Care

For transgender individuals and their families, Magavi recommends using a tool like the therapist database on psychologytoday.com and searching terms like “transgender” and “non-binary” to find specialists who are well versed in the issues that transgender and non-binary people face.

“Fluid and consistent communication allows LGBTQIA individuals the opportunity to speak about their anxieties, possible bullying, and other challenges,” she says. “This can help ensure they feel safe and supported. Communication can be as simple as asking open-ended questions and actively listening.”

Click here to read more on Verywell Mind.

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