Gender-reassigned face health hurdles: study

This year 60 people have applied to change their sex in Sweden. Most gender-reassigned people achieve a better life through their surgery, but a new study shows that the risk of attempted suicide and psychological problems remains high, Dagens Nyheter reports.

“For most transsexual people, their life improves, but it’s not easy immediately after the operation,” Cecilia Dhejne, a scientist and doctor at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, told the newspaper.

Her study shows that transsexuals have a five times higher risk of being treated for attempted suicide compared to a control group. They also receive psychiatric care three times more frequently than others, the study, which has not yet been published, reveals.

The number of people who apply to change their sex in Sweden increases every year. To date, nearly 700 people have changed their sex in Sweden. Most have changed from male to female.

Earlier science has shown that psychological problems were common among transsexual people who had not had reassignment surgery. Cecilia Dhejne, who conducts reasearch at the Huddinge hospital’s division for the evaluation of sex change operations, investigated mortality and psychiatric care of 324 people after their operations.

“These are people who have lived in the wrong body for a long time and that leaves its traces. Many have lived with repressed sexuality during their development, have been bullied, and can have bad self-esteem,” Dhejne told Dagens Nyheter.

Transsexual people also have a three times greater risk of dying prematurely.

“We don’t really know why. It can be related to suicide and it can also have an effect that they have taken hormones that are more damaging to the body than those we use today. It can therefore be heart-related disease that lies behind the mortality rates,” said Dhejne.

But the researcher believes that the majority of gender-reassigned benefit from surgery, a thesis backed up by another new study from Lund. With 60 participants,the study shows that nearly all had a better life five years after their operations. Their work situations, relationships and sex lives had all improved.

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