LGBT health 2017 05 12() doi 10.1089/lgbt.2016.0186
Transgender women have consistently reported elevated rates of lifetime physical and sexual abuse. This study examined the associations between reported physical and/or sexual abuse and symptoms of psychological and emotional distress among a sample of urban, high-risk transgender women.
From June 2005 through July 2012, 99 transgender women enrolled in a Comprehensive Risk Counseling and Services program in Hollywood, CA. Seemingly unrelated regression equations (SURE) were used to simultaneously regress psychiatric symptom reports on participant sociodemographic characteristics and self-reported history of physical/sexual abuse.
Participants were African American/Black (33.3%), Caucasian/White (28.3%), or Hispanic/Latina (24.2%). Average age was 35 years (standard deviation [SD] = 9), and 37.4% of participants self-reported an HIV-positive status. Most (84.9%) participants reported experiencing physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lifetime, and symptoms of psychological and emotional distress (as measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory) among those who reported abuse were more severe than those observed in cisgender psychiatric in-patient populations. After controlling for participant sociodemographics, prior experience of physical and/or sexual abuse was associated with significantly increased psychological and emotional distress across all measured symptom domains except psychoticism [χ(2)(9) = 17.56; p < 0.05]. CONCLUSION
Given these associations as well as the high prevalence of physical and/or sexual abuse among transgender women, mental health professionals and social service providers working with this population should be sensitive to the abuse history and mental health needs of the transgender women with whom they work.