Mortality trends over five decades in adult transgender people receiving hormone treatment: a report from the Amsterdam cohort of gender dysphoria

Christel J. M. de Blok, Chantal M. Wiepjes, Daan M. van Velzen, Annemieke S. Staphorsius, Nienke M. Nota, Louis J. G. Gooren, Baudewijntje P. C. Kreukels, Martin den Heijer

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Abstract

Background: Increased mortality in transgender people has been described in earlier studies. Whether this increased mortality is still present over the past decades is unknown. Therefore, we aimed to investigate trends in mortality over five decades in a large cohort of adult transgender people in addition to cause-specific mortality. Methods: We did a retrospective cohort study of adult transgender people who visited the gender identity clinic of Amsterdam University Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Data of transgender people who received hormone treatment between 1972 and 2018 were linked to Statistics Netherlands. People were excluded if they used alternating testosterone and oestradiol treatment, if they started treatment younger than age 17 years, or if they had ever used puberty-blockers before gender-affirming hormone treatment. Standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated using general population mortality rates stratified by age, calendar period, and sex. Cause-specific mortality was also calculated. Findings: Between 1972 and 2018, 8831 people visited the gender identity clinic. 4263 were excluded from the study for a variety of reasons, and 2927 transgender women and 1641 transgender men were included in the study, with a total follow-up time of 40 232 person-years for transgender women and 17 285 person-years for transgender men. During follow-up, 317 (10·8%) transgender women died, which was higher than expected compared with general population men (SMR 1·8, 95% CI 1·6–2·0) and general population women (SMR 2·8, 2·5–3·1). Cause-specific mortality in transgender women was high for cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, HIV-related disease, and suicide. In transgender men, 44 people (2·7%) died, which was higher than expected compared with general population women (SMR 1·8, 95% CI 1·3–2·4) but not general population men (SMR 1·2, 95% CI 0·9–1·6). Cause-specific death in transgender men was high for non-natural causes of death. No decreasing trend in mortality risk was observed over the five decades studied. Interpretation: This observational study showed an increased mortality risk in transgender people using hormone treatment, regardless of treatment type. This increased mortality risk did not decrease over time. The cause-specific mortality risk because of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, HIV-related disease, and suicide gives no indication to a specific effect of hormone treatment, but indicates that monitoring, optimising, and, if necessary, treating medical morbidities and lifestyle factors remain important in transgender health care. Funding: None.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-670
Number of pages8
JournalThe Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology
Volume9
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

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