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California study finds suicide risk doubles after male-to-female surgeries


(The Center Square) – A study using California government data found suicide rates double after surgery for transgender females who receive male-to-female gender change surgeries.

This study follows a 2020 analysis of the entire Swedish population that found there is “no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care visits or prescriptions or hospitalizations following suicide attempts in that comparison.”

The study, published in the Journal of Urology, studied 859 Californians who underwent a vaginoplasty (male-to-female gender surgery), and 357 who underwent phalloplasty (female-to-male surgery) for two years before and after their surgeries. Of those who underwent gender affirmation surgery, a similar proportion of vaginoplasty and phalloplasty recipients experienced at least one psychiatric encounter, coming in at 22.2% and 20.7% respectively. However, suicide rates were markedly higher among vaginoplasty than phalloplasty patients after their surgeries; vaginoplasty suicide rates more than doubled from 1.5% to 3.3%, whereas phalloplasty suicide rates remained stable at 0.8% before and after surgery.

“Although both the phalloplasty and vaginoplasty patients have similar overall rates of psychiatric encounters, suicide attempts are more common in the latter. In fact, our observed rate of suicide attempts in the phalloplasty group is actually similar to the general population, while the vaginoplasty group’s rate is more than double that of the general population,” wrote the study’s authors. “Patients undergoing [gender affirmation surgery] with a history of prior psychiatric emergencies or feminizing transition are at higher risk and should be counseled appropriately.

Medi-Cal, the state’s taxpayer-supported public health system, includes hormonal and surgical gender transitions for beneficiaries, which expanded on January 1 to include illegal immigrants. Covered benefits include “mental and behavioral health services”, “hormone therapy”, and “a variety of surgical procedures that bring primary and secondary gender characteristics into conformity with the individual’s identified gender, including ancillary services, such as hair removal, incident to those services.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill last year that would have required judges to consider parents’ support for a child’s gender affirmation or identity in child custody cases.