• Investigating the outcome of the initial assessment at a national transgender health service: Time to review the process?

      Jones, Bethany A.; Brewin, Nicola; Richards, Christina; Van Eijk, Marnix; Stephenson-Allen, Alex; Arcelus, Jon (2017)
      Background: Globally, there is a lack of a standardized assessment process prior to the initiation of gender affirming medical interventions and consequently there is a discrepancy in this process among different transgender health services. Aim: The main objective of this study is to investigate the outcome of the initial assessment process at a national transgender health service. Method: The outcome of people over the age of 17 years, assessed at a large national transgender health service in the United Kingdom during a 2-year period was categorized into: (1) recommendation for cross-sex hormone treatment, or (2) no recommendation for cross-sex hormone treatment. In addition, 200 case notes were reviewed in order to investigate the level of agreement between the two clinicians involved in the assessment process. Results: During the study period, a total number of 617 people completed their assessment at the service. Following assessment 380 (61.6%) patients were recommended for cross-sex hormone treatment, leaving 237 (38.4%) patients who required a longer assessment period or were discharged. The factors associated with being recommended for cross-sex hormone treatment were having socially transitioned, not smoking, having initiated cross-sex hormones prior to assessment, being older, and assigned male at birth. Out of the 200 case notes reviewed, agreement between assessor 1 and 2 (3 months apart) was found in 88% (n = 176) of the cases. Discussion: Although the results of the study may not be generalizable to other international centers, questioning the assessment process and the role of the assessors is important to ensure treatment is offered in a timely and efficient manner. The findings from this study suggest that the routine inclusion of two assessors needs to be reviewed. © 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
    • Levels of depression in transgender people and its predictors: Results of a large matched control study with transgender people accessing clinical services

      Bouman, Walter P.; Brewin, Nicola; Arcelus, Jon (2018)
      BACKGROUNDDepression is a serious disorder which significantly impacts wellbeing and quality of life. Studies exploring mental wellbeing in the transgender population are mostly limited by small, non-homogenous samples and lack of matched controls. This study aimed to address these limitations and explore depression rates in a large sample of transgender people, compared with matched controls from the general population, as well as factors predicting depression in those taking cross-sex hormone treatment (CHT) compared to those not.METHODSTransgender individuals (n = 913) completed a measure of depression, measures which predict psychopathology (self-esteem, victimization, social support, interpersonal problems), and information regarding CHT use. Participants were matched by age and experienced gender with adults from the general population who had completed the measure of depression.RESULTSIndividuals were categorized as having no, possible or probable depressive disorder. Transgender individuals not on CHT had a nearly four-fold increased risk of probable depressive disorder, compared to controls. Older age, lower self-esteem, poorer interpersonal function and less social support predicted depressive disorder. Use of CHT was associated with less depression.LIMITATIONSParticipants were attending a national gender identity service and therefore represent only a sub-group of transgender people. Due to the cross-sectional design, longitudinal research is required to fully confirm the finding that CHT use reduces depression.CONCLUSIONThis study confirms that non-treated transgender individuals have an increased risk of a depressive disorder. Interventions offered alongside gender affirming treatment to develop interpersonal skills, increase self-esteem and improve social support may reduce depression and prepare individuals for a more successful transition.
    • Prospective evaluation of self-reported aggression in transgender persons

      Bouman, Walter P.; Brewin, Nicola; Arcelus, Jon (2018)
      Background: Although research on the relation between testosterone and aggression in humans is inconclusive, guidelines (including the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, edition 7) have warned for an increase in aggression in transgender men taking testosterone treatment. Aims: To investigate the association between levels of testosterone and aggression in treatment-seeking transgender people and explore the role of mental health psychopathology (anxiety and depressive symptoms) and social support in aggression in this population. Methods: Every transgender person invited for assessment at a national transgender health clinic in the United Kingdom during a 3-year period (2012–2015) completed self-report measures for interpersonal problems, including levels of aggression (Inventory of Interpersonal Problems [IIP-32]), symptoms of anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]), social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support), and experiences of transphobia before and 1 year after the initiation of gender-affirming hormonal therapy. Correlations between prospective scores for the IIP-32 factor “too aggressive” and prospective levels of sex steroids, prospective psychological (HADS), and baseline psychosocial measurements were tested. Outcomes: Prospective scores for the factor “too aggressive” were not correlated to prospective serum testosterone levels. Results: Results of 140 people (56 transgender men, 84 transgender women) were analyzed. A prospective increase in scores for the factor “too aggressive” of the IIP-32 in transgender men 1 year after being treated with testosterone treatment or a decrease of the IIP-32 aggression scores in transgender women 1 year after gender-affirming hormonal therapy was not found. However, a positive correlation was found between increasing HADS anxiety scores and increasing scores for the IIP-32 “too aggressive” score in the entire study population and a positive correlation with lower support from friends in transgender women. Clinical Implications: Hormone-prescribing physicians can be reassured that the long-term administration of testosterone in transgender men does not increase aggressive behavior. Strengths and Limitations: This is the 1st prospective study to assess the effect of gender-affirming hormonal care on aggression. Limitations included the use of different laboratories, the use of a patient-reported outcome measure, and the lack of aggression subtypes. Conclusions: Testosterone therapy was not associated with an increase in levels of aggression in transgender men or a decrease in aggressive behavior in transgender women on antiandrogen and estrogen therapy, but other psychological and/or social factors, such as anxiety levels, appear to contribute to self-reported aggression in transgender people.
    • SAT-014 No correlation between serum testosterone levels and aggresion or anger intensity in transgender people: Results from five European centres

      Arcelus, Jon; Bouman, Walter P.; Brewin, Nicola (2019)
      AIM: Anger is a state of emotions ranging from irritation to intense rage. Aggression is the externalization of anger through destructive/punitive behaviour. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care, Edition 7 (SOC7) guidelines warn about aggression in transgender men (TM) on testosterone treatment. We aimed to assess whether aggression and anger intensity increase in TM and decrease in transgender women (TW) after initiation of gender affirming hormone therapy and to identify predictors for anger intensity in transgender people, including levels of sex steroids as well as psychological measurements. METHODS: Prospective changes in aggression were measured at baseline and after one year of gender affirming hormones in 155 transgender persons (64 TM, 91 TW), using the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP-32) factor ‘too aggressive’. State-level anger intensity was prospectively assessed in 898 participants (440 TM, 468 TW) by the STAXI-2 (State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2) State Anger (S-Anger) questionnaire during a three-year follow-up period, starting at the initiation of hormone treatment (testosterone in TM, oestrogens plus anti-androgens in TW). At baseline, psychological questionnaires were administered. Data were analysed cross-sectionally and prospectively. RESULTS: No prospective changes were reported in ‘too aggressive’ scores (after one year of hormone therapy) and S-Anger scores (over 3, 12 and 36 months of hormone therapy) in TM and TW. ‘Too aggressive’ scores were positively correlated to increasing anxiety scores in the entire study population and with lower support from friends in TW. At three, twelve and thirty-six months of gender affirming hormone therapy, anger intensity was not correlated to serum testosterone levels, although there was a correlation with various psychological measures after three and twelve months. TM experiencing menstrual spotting after three months had higher S-Anger scores compared to those without (median 26.5 [18.0 - 29.8] versus 15.0 [15.0 - 17.0], P=0.020). Changes in STAXI-2 S-Anger scores were not correlated to changes in serum testosterone levels after three, twelve and thirty-six months in TM or TW. CONCLUSIONS: Aggression and state-level anger intensity are associated with psychological and/or psychiatric vulnerability or the persistence of menses in TM, but not with exogenous testosterone therapy in TM or serum testosterone levels in both TM and TW.
    • Transgender and anxiety: A comparative study between transgender people and the general population

      Bouman, Walter P.; Brewin, Nicola; Arcelus, Jon (2017)
      Background: Anxiety disorders pose serious public health problems. The data available on anxiety disorders in the transgender population is limited by the small numbers, the lack of a matched controlled population and the selection of a nonhomogenous group of transgender people. Aims: The aims of the study were (1) to determine anxiety symptomatology (based on the HADS) in a nontreated transgender population and to compare it to a general population sample matched by age and gender; (2) to investigate the predictive role of specific variables, including experienced gender, self-esteem, victimization, social support, interpersonal functioning, and cross-sex hormone use regarding levels of anxiety symptomatology; and (3) to investigate differences in anxiety symptomatology between transgender people on cross-sex hormone treatment and not on hormone treatment. Methods: A total of 913 individuals who self-identified as transgender attending a transgender health service during a 3-year period agreed to participate. For the first aim of the study, 592 transgender people not on treatment were matched by age and gender, with 3,816 people from the general population. For the second and third aim, the whole transgender population was included. Measurements: Sociodemographic variables and measures of depression and anxiety (HADS), self-esteem (RSE), victimization (ETS), social support (MSPSS), and interpersonal functioning (IIP-32).Results: Compared with the general population transgender people had a nearly threefold increased risk of probable anxiety disorder (all p < .05). Low self-esteem and interpersonal functioning were found to be significant predictors of anxiety symptoms. Trans women on treatment with cross-sex hormones were found to have lower levels of anxiety disorder symptomatology. Conclusions: Transgender people (particularly trans males) have higher levels of anxiety symptoms suggestive of possible anxiety disorders compared to the general population. The findings that self-esteem, interpersonal functioning, and hormone treatment are associated with lower levels of anxiety symptoms indicate the need for clinical interventions targeting self-esteem and interpersonal difficulties and highlight the importance of quick access to transgender health services. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved) (Source: journal abstract)