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Teens who received gender-affirming care had 60% lower odds of depression, UW study finds

The study found that gender-affirming care provided to teens at the Seattle Children's Gender Clinic likely reduced rates of depression and suicidal thoughts.

SEATTLE — Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect updated language from UW Medicine. 

A University of Washington study found that gender-affirming care including hormone blockers, testosterone or estrogen provided to teens at the Seattle Children's Gender Clinic likely reduced rates of depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

The study was conducted by a fourth-year student at UW Medicine Arin Collin and a UW Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology Diana Tordoff. The authors tracked 104 patients at the clinic between the ages of 13 and 20 over the course of a year. 

The authors cited research indicating that as many as 72% of transgender youth suffer from depression, and half have seriously considered suicide. There are 750,000 to 1.1 million adolescents in the U.S. that identify as transgender or nonbinary, according to research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and by the CDC.

At the beginning of the study, 59 patients reported experiencing moderate to severe depression and 45 patients reported self-harm or suicidal thoughts. By the end of the study, 66.3% of patients had received puberty blockers, estrogen or testosterone. 

Teens who received gender-affirming care had 60% lower odds of depression and 73% lower odds of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

“Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care,” Collin said to UW News. “This care does have a great deal of power in walking back baseline adverse mental-health outcomes that the transgender population overwhelmingly [experiences] at a very young age.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently issued a directive ordering the Department of Families and Protective Services to open child abuse investigations against parents who help their transgender children receive gender-affirming care. A judge blocked the directive on Friday.


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