A newly published study conducted by the head of a facility known for providing “gender-affirming care” has found that transgender surgeries do not enhance mental health, rather they increase feelings of loneliness compared to those who have not undergone surgical intervention. The research, published in BMC Public Health, indicates that surgical transition does not raise life satisfaction among transgender individuals. Interestingly, the study also identified higher isolation levels among individuals who are active in sports and have undergone gender reassignment surgery.
The data for these findings were collected from a Hamburg surgical center specializing in transgender procedures, including “labiaplasty” and “breast augmentation”. The participants of the study were individuals seeking gender-affirming surgeries and were part of self-help groups to share and acquire information about the procedures performed at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. Dr. Marco Blessmann, one of the authors of the studies, has been leading the plastic surgery department of the university since 2014.
The study further revealed that transgender individuals generally exhibit lower life satisfaction than the general population, and this is particularly pronounced among younger individuals struggling with gender dysphoria. The study found that a large percentage of transgender-identifying individuals felt “dissatisfied” or “extremely dissatisfied” with life, with a significantly lower percentage reporting satisfaction. The research also showed that higher levels of life satisfaction were associated with older age, and that transgender youth tend to have higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicidality, and non-suicidal self-injury, factors known to reduce life satisfaction.
The publication of these studies has come at a time of growing public debate about gender-affirming care, particularly for minors, amidst the backdrop of LGBTQ “Pride Month”. As terms like “am I gay” and “am I trans” have seen a 1,300% increase in search volume in 19 years, the findings provide important evidence for the ongoing discourse. Critics have long questioned the effectiveness of gender reassignment surgery, pointing to evidence of increased suicide rates among post-operative individuals.
The study provides important evidence that reinforces the argument of many critics who believe that resolving the core issues leading to gender dysphoria is key to improving the mental health of transgender individuals. Previous research has identified higher rates of trauma, abuse, and adverse childhood experiences among transgender individuals. Current evidence suggests that addressing these underlying issues may be key to helping individuals struggling with gender dysphoria lead healthier, happier lives.