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New Study Says Transgender Women Dying At Faster Rate Than General Population

A new Dutch study has suggested that transgender women are dying at a faster rate than the rest of the population. The top factors concerning their death are HIV, suicide, and heart-related problems, experts say.

The study, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, was headed by Martin den Heijer, MD, Ph.D., of Amsterdam University Medical Centre in the Netherlands together with her colleagues.

The researchers studied a total of 2,927 transgender women from the year 1972 to 2018. During the study, 10.8 percent of the sample population using hormonal therapy died. This number is reportedly higher than men and women in the general population that died during the same period.

As per the results from the data gathered, transgender women died at 1.8-fold higher than expected compared with cisgender men. As compared to cisgender women, transgender women died at 2.8-fold higher than expected.

The most common drivers for the unexpectedly high death rate among transgender women are cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, HIV-related disease, and suicide. However, the most common factor is HIV-related disease as there is a 47.6-fold and 14.7-fold higher mortality rate due to HIV than the general population of women and men, respectively, during the same time the data was recorded.

As for suicide being a factor, co-author Christel de Blok, MD, also of Amsterdam University Medical Centre, said that they found most suicides and HIV-related deaths occurred in the first decades of the study. She added the findings suggest that “greater social acceptance and access to support, and improved treatments for HIV, may have played an important role in reducing deaths related to these causes among transgender people in recent years.”

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The study also included data regarding death in transgender men. It was also higher than expected. The data showed that since 1972, 44 of the 1,641 sample population, or 2.7 percent, who used hormone therapy, died. Such a rate was 1.8-fold higher than women in the general population but was equivalent to men in the general population. De Blok pointed out that the result might have been because of the clinical practice in the past.

She noted, “In the past, health care providers were reluctant to provide hormone treatment to people with a history of comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease. However, because of the many benefits of enabling people to access hormone therapy, nowadays this rarely results in treatment being denied.”