Research projects

First national trans mental health study: A mixed-methods study of mental health and associated factors in transgender and transsexual (trans) people

Principal researchers

Dr Zoë Hyde 1,2
Dr Maryanne Doherty 1,2
Mr P. J. Matt Tilley 1,2
Dr Kieran A. McCaul 3
Dr Rosanna Rooney 4
Dr Jonine Jancey 1

Institution

1 The Collaboration for Evidence, Research, and Impact in Public Health (formally known as WACHPR), Curtin University
2 School of Public Health, Department of Sexology, Curtin University
3 Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing, University of Western Australia
4 School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University

Funding

$163,268

Award type

beyondblue National Priority Driven Research Program

Project completion year

2014

Key messages

  • The first national trans mental health study was a cross-sectional study of trans people living in Australia in 2013. A total of 946 people participated in the study, making the study the largest ever conducted in Australia and one of the largest in the world. 
  • The study found that trans people experience very high levels of depression and anxiety. The proportion of people currently affected by these syndromes was higher than the lifetime prevalence of depression and anxiety in the general population. The proportion of people who had ever been diagnosed with depression or an anxiety disorder was higher still. 
  • Both quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed several factors strongly associated with poor mental health. These included difficulty accessing health care (particularly with regard to obtaining hormones and surgery), difficulty changing identifying documents, not feeling comfortable disclosing being trans to doctors, and experiences of discrimination. 
  • Improving access to health care (in particular, making it easier for people to undertake a medical transition), and reform of state and territory legislation so that trans people are able to change identifying documents more easily, are urgently needed to improve the health of trans people. 
  • Health curriculums for all health professionals (including mental health professionals) require urgent reform. Health workers must better understand the needs of trans people, how to communicate in a respectful way with them, and be able to provide appropriate health care. Trans health care is often not complex, and trans people should expect to be able to receive it from local services with confidence and without fear of discrimination.

Download the final report