Discrimination may trigger risky health behaviors by transgender Americans, a new study suggests.
Transgender adults who deal with more discrimination are more likely to smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol and drugs, and attempt suicide, the study revealed.
“This research suggests that the consequences of being [identified] as transgender and gender nonconforming are often far-reaching,” Eric Anthony Grollman, an assistant professor at the University Richmond in Virginia and a former Indiana University student said in an Indiana University news release.
“Society must become more accepting of diversity in gender identity and expression. Doing so would help put an end to systemic prejudice and discrimination against transgender people,” he added.
The study wasn’t designed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between discrimination and risky health behaviors among transgender people, but it was able to show an association between these factors.
Even though there is more awareness of transgender people in the United States, many transgender adults still face high levels of discrimination, the researchers said.
One national U.S. survey found that 70 percent of transgender people have been discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity, the researchers said.
The study authors found that transgender adults who are more frequently identified as transgender by others are more likely to experience daily and major discrimination.
Transgender women faced more discrimination than transgender men, the study found. And transgender people in certain disadvantaged groups — such as those who are multiracial and have low incomes — experienced more discrimination than those in more advantaged groups.
The study was published recently in the journal Sociological Forum.
“As transgender celebrities and activists have pointed out in recent months, there is diversity in the experiences of transgender people,” Lisa Miller, a doctoral candidate in the sociology department at Indiana University said in the news release.
“Rather than assuming that all members of the transgender community are equally at risk, we need to investigate the extent to which some members may face disproportionate exposure to discrimination and poor health,” she suggested.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about transgender health.