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Demographic and Health Characteristics of Transgender Adults in California: Findings from the 2015-2016 California Health Interview Survey

October 31, 2017

Policy Brief

Authors: Jody L. Herman, Bianca D.M. Wilson, Tara Becker, PhD

This report provides the first look at demographics, health, and health care access among transgender adults in California who participated in the 2015-2016 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). In California, about 92,000 (0.35 percent) adults ages 18 to 70 are transgender. Transgender adults are similar to cisgender adults in many ways but experience disparities in mental health, disability status, and health care access.

Compared to cisgender adults, transgender adults are more than three times more likely to have ever thought about suicide, nearly six times more likely to have ever attempted suicide, nearly four times more likely to have experienced serious psychological distress, and more than three times more likely to have emotions that interfere with their relationships, social life, ability to do chores, and work performance.

In regard to health care access, transgender adults are nearly three times more likely than cisgender adults to delay getting medicine prescribed to them by a doctor or to not get the medicine at all. There are no statistically significant differences between transgender and cisgender adults in some demographic characteristics, such as education and U.S. citizenship, and in reports of various physical health conditions, such as diabetes and asthma. However, transgender adults appear more likely to be living with HIV.

These and other findings call for future research to explain existing disparities and similarities, as well as for the creation of structural and clinical interventions that will improve health care access and mental and physical health outcomes for the transgender population.

This is a joint publication of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

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