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A recent study suggests that more adolescents with gender dysphoria have additional mental health issues

Isla Russell January 17, 2018

(Photo credit Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

A recent study by the University of Toronto suggests that adolescents with gender dysphoria are also suffering from additional mental health illnesses.

Head of the study Melanie Bechard and her team examined 17 male bodied and 33 female-bodied individuals. Each person was referred to a specialist gender identity service for young people where the researchers looked for evidence of 15 factors that could signify psychological illness.

The findings were that the majority of the studies had suffered two or more prior diagnoses of psychological disorders, the most common of which were mood disorders such as depression. Additionally, more than half of the studies had thought about suicide and a quarter had self-harmed.

Bechard provided an in-depth analysis of a female born case study to illustrate the correlation between gender dysphoria and mental illness within young people, and the dangers that can result from allowing adolescences to transition when they are mentally vulnerable.

Some children are certain that they are born into the wrong body.
(Photo credit Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The individual had disclosed that they were transgender aged 13 and said that they had felt that way for a while. In this case, the study had a history of anxiety and social issues interacting with girls, and extreme anxiety about sexuality. As well as admitting to being transgender the case also disclosed that they were gay, however, had no interest in romantic or sexual relationships.

After an initial assessment by a physician, they were given testosterone treatment against the wishes of their parents. Unfortunately, a few months after the start of hormone treatment the individual made a suicide attempt which hospitalised them.

The study concluded that physicians should be considering more seriously the correlation between adolescences with gender dysphoria and other mental illnesses and whether gender dysphoria is the cause or symptom of the additional mental illnesses.

Despite this study being done by the University of Toronto, there is still hesitation regarding the reliability of it which comes from the study being co-authored by Kenneth Zucker.

There have been several rallies campaigning for transgender rights (Photo credit Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Zucker is an expert in gender dysphoria and was the head of the American Psychiatric Association’s group who decided the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria. However, in 2015 he was fired from his clinic at the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health after failing to follow the “gender-affirmative” approach at the clinic that helps children express their gender socially through their clothing and changing of their name.

Alternatively, Zucker chose to question how young people can conclude what their gender identity is when they are going through the hectic time in their life of growing up, and instead placed emphasis on the costs that transitioning would have on individuals. There was even one report that stated he had told parents to discourage their child from behaving in ways that contradicted their assigned gender.

Although there were claims prior to his practice being shut down that Zucker’s methods were similar to conversion therapy, he maintains that his priority has and will always be the wellbeing of his patients, however, his controversial views have labelled him a transphobe.

His contributions towards Bechard’s study put’s into the scientific records his concerns that gender dysphoric adolescences are psychologically vulnerable and therefore gives credit to his practice methods.

Some parents are incredibly supportive of transgender children and let them come out as the correct gender socially before they get surgery (Photo credit Jordan Hicks / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Regardless of Zucker’s contributions to the study, the question as to how to treat children with gender dysphoria is still open for debate. However, this studies suggestion that there is a correlation between children with gender dysphoria and additional mental illnesses will no doubt add to views similar to Zucker’s that suggest children shouldn’t be allowed to transition to their desired gender.

More: academic study, Americas, Canada, gender dysphoria, LGBT children, mental health, Toronto

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