Studies on gender dysphoria
When someone refers to gender identity, what they usually mean is the gender one experiences and identifies themselves with. This can for example be woman, man, neither of them or something in the middle. People whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth can experience severe discomfort and suffering. This condition is called gender dysphoria.
A significant increase in people seeking treatment for gender dysphoria has been observed over the past decade, particularly among younger people. Individuals with gender dysphoria are a group with an increased risk of mental and physical ill-health, discrimination and exposure to violence. The majority of the studies in the area are methodologically weak, and both the Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services (SBU) and the Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE) have published related knowledge gaps and emphasize the need for more research.
We aim to provide scientifically robust answers to several of these knowledge gaps, including shedding light to the following questions:
- is gender-affirming treatment associated with better outcomes in gender dysphoria, body satisfaction, mental health and social vulnerability (such as discrimination and violence);
- do people undergoing a gender-affirming treatment have a higher risk for negative physical (e.g., stroke and heart attack) and psychiatric outcomes (e.g., psychiatric admissions and suicidal behaviour), and
- which factors are important for people who experience a change in their need for gender-affirming care or for people who have experiences of detransition and regret
We use data from an ongoing large multicentre cohort study in Sweden (SKDS), register-based data with all individuals in Sweden who have received a gender dysphoria diagnosis within the healthcare system, as well as data from qualitative interviews with selected individuals.
The SKDS study provides us with detailed clinically relevant outcome measures, register data with sufficient statistical power to assess safety aspects, for example more serious but rare outcomes (e.g., stroke), while the qualitative studies will explore factors influencing important decisions among people diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The new knowledge generated will be a significant contribution to the field, filling important knowledge gaps and helping authorities prioritize service development and decision-making.