Abstract: Gender dysphoria describes the psychological distress caused by identifying with the sex opposite to the one assigned at birth. In recent years, much progress has been made in characterizing the needs of transgender persons wishing to transition to their preferred gender, thus helping to optimize care. This critical review of the literature examines their common mental health issues, several individual risk factors for psychiatric comorbidity, and current research on the underlying neurobiology. Prevalence rates of persons identifying as transgender and seeking help with transition have been rising steeply since 2000 across Western countries; the current U.S. estimate is 0.6%. Anxiety and depression are frequently observed both before and after transition, although there is some decrease afterward. Recent research has identified autistic traits in some transgender persons. Forty percent of transgender persons endorse suicidality, and the rate of self-injurious behavior and suicide are markedly higher than in the general population. Individual factors contributing to mental health in transgender persons include community attitudes, societal acceptance, and posttransition physical attractiveness. Neurobiologically, whereas structural MRI data are thus far inconsistent, functional MRI evidence in trans persons suggests changes in some brain areas concerned with olfaction and voice perception consistent with sexual identification, but here too, a definitive picture has yet to emerge. Mental health clinicians, together with other health specialists, have an increasing role in the assessment and treatment of gender dysphoria in transgender individuals.
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The participant will point out mental health concerns that may occur in transgender persons and identify neurobiological aspects of this population.
This program is designed for all psychiatrists in clinical practice, residents in Graduate Medical Education programs, medical students interested in psychiatry, and other physicians who wish to advance their current knowledge of clinical medicine.
Estimated Time to Complete
Duration: 1 hour
Begin Date: December 1, 2017
End Date: November 30, 2019
How to Earn Credit
In order to earn CME credit, subscribers should read through the material presented in the article. After reading the article, complete the quiz and submit your evaluation and study hours (up to 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™). A score of 60% or higher is required to receive credit.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The APA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Faculty and Planner Disclosures
Title: Transgender Research in the 21st Century: A Selective Critical Review From a Neurocognitive Perspective
Authors: Sven C. Mueller, Ph.D., Griet De Cuypere, M.D., Ph.D., Guy T’Sjoen, M.D.
Affiliations: From the Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University (S.C.M.); and the Department of Endocrinology and the Center for Sexology and Gender, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium (G.D.C., G.T.S.).
Disclosures: Dr. T’Sjoen has received grants (as principal investigator) from AstraZeneca, Bayer Schering, Ipsen, and Sandoz; consulting fees (as advisory board member) from Ipsen and Novartis; and speaking fees from Ferring and Novartis. The other authors report no financial relationships with commercial interests.
Discussion of unapproved or investigational use of products*: No.
*APA policy requires disclosure by CME authors of unapproved or investigational use of products discussed in CME programs. Off-label use of medications by individual physicians is permitted and common. Decisions about off-label use can be guided by scientific literature and clinical experience.
Robert Freedman, M.D. (Editor-in-Chief, AJP); Susan K. Schultz, M.D. (Deputy Editor, AJP); Michael D. Roy (Editorial Director, AJP); Michael A. Pogachar (Online Content Manager, Journals).
Dr. Schultz has received research support from the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study for projects conducted in partnership with Toyama Chemical Company and in partnership with Eli Lilly and Company. Dr. Freedman, Mr. Roy, and Mr. Pogachar report no financial relationships with commercial interests.
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