Poor health behaviours, greater harassment among transgender, gender nonconforming teens
Transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) students are more likely to adopt poor health behaviours than their cisgender peers, a recent study has found.
“Compared with cisgender students, transgender students reported less healthy food intake, were more likely to be overweight or obese, bullied for weight or size, and physically inactive,” researchers said. “This study expands the limited literature regarding the health of transgender students and can inform tailored interventions to address health disparities.”
Drawing data from a large, cross-sectional, population-based survey of high school students, the research team found that out of 80,794 participants, around 2.7 percent (n=2,168) self-identified as TGNCs. Of this subset, more had been assigned female than male at birth.
Food frequency questionnaires showed that TGNC participants consumed more fast food on a daily basis, while eating fewer fruits and drinking less milk and water. This effect was stronger among those who were assigned female at birth, who reported even lower levels of fruit, vegetable and milk intake, and greater consumption of soda.
TGNCs assigned male at birth, in addition, had the highest mean daily intake levels of fast food, soda, and sports and energy drinks. As a result, TGNC participants were also more likely to be overweight or obese than their cisgender counterparts (34.7 percent vs 24.3 percent).
These adverse health behaviours were compounded by other social and lifestyle factors. TGNC participants were more likely to skip lunch and were less likely to engage in physical activity. They also faced greater rates of harassment and bullying because of their weight or size.