Some mental health conditions are more common in transgender men. Treatment, including hormone therapy, can help reduce symptoms of mental health problems, although not everyone wants it.
As a close friend or family member of a transgender man, there are ways to support their transition and mental health. This may include placing them or offering support for quality mental health care.
Keep reading to learn more about mental health in transgender men, from common issues, to the unique challenges transgender men face, and how to support and help them.
Mental Health in Transgender Men
A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine noted differences between mental health markers among college-aged cisgender people and gender minority people. In this context, gender minority refers to people who identify with a gender other than the gender assigned at birth.
In general, gender minority people have a significantly higher prevalence of mental health symptoms.
According to the study, gender minority individuals are more than four times more likely to have at least one mental health problem than their cisgender counterparts.
Possible mental health disorders include:
- suicidal thoughts or tendencies
- eating disorders
A similar study at BMC Public Health found that transgender people were more likely to have lower life satisfaction and increased symptoms of loneliness.
There are many reasons why this might be the case.
There are a number of important factors that may make transgender men and transgender people more likely to experience mental health conditions than other groups.
Overall, transgender people have increased lifetime stress when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity compared to their cisgender peers.
These stresses may include:
- poor coping skills
- rejection from family
- low self-esteem
- avoidant behaviors
- body image issues
- poor sexual satisfaction
- rejection by loved ones
The impact of these stressors throughout life can contribute to reduced mental health.
Loneliness can also play a role in mental health problems.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine notes that social isolation was a significant predictor of poor mental health among transgender people.
Among transgender men, in particular, romantic isolation appears to be the strongest factor. The study linked higher levels of loneliness with lower levels of mental health.
Because transgender people may be more likely to experience loneliness, the effects may manifest as poor mental health.
Social expectations can also play a role. Social attitudes towards gender expression can vary greatly from place to place.
This can lead to lifelong discrimination for transgender men. They may experience:
- possible violence
- social stigma
- personal prejudices
These factors can influence the negative mental health aspects that transgender people experience.
Stigma surrounding both mental health and gender minority identity can prevent people from seeking or seeking help.
This silence itself can reduce the reach a person has to help and foster a cycle of needing help, feeling bad about needing help, and feeling even worse about being trapped.
Left untreated, these problems can lead to poor mental health and, in extreme cases, deep depression or suicide.
Mental Health Effects in Transgender Men
Mental health issues may affect transgender men differently than their cisgender peers, especially if the person does not have access to gender-affirming treatment.
Treatments that affirm one’s gender identity can help alleviate symptoms, while treatments that deny one’s identity can.
Mental health issues may also affect transgender men differently than cisgender people if they do not have access to adequate support systems.
Whether from their peer group, family, or the general population, accepting a person’s gender identity can be a big step toward improving their mental health.
Drugs, Hormones, and Mental Health
Gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) involves giving a person with gender dysphoria safe doses of hormones to help them transition to their true gender identity.
A review in Current Psychiatry Reports notes that overall, GAHT produces positive psychosocial effects in both adolescents and adults.
GAHT reduces symptoms of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, reduces markers of social stress, and improves quality of life and self-esteem.
Hormone therapy is often an integral part of alleviating gender dysphoria and is key to treating underlying mental health problems.
It is important to note that although many transgender people choose GAHT to help affirm their gender identity, not all transgender people will choose or desire this treatment.
Transgender men face unique mental health issues, and working to address them is a delicate process.
Some medications and hormone therapy can reduce depressive symptoms, although not every transgender man will choose these options.
It’s important to help someone transition and get mental health care when they need it.