The LGBT community has always been thought to be at greater risk for clinical depression than the general population because of the alienation that LGBT people often feel after “coming out” to family and friends, and it seems that the stigma and pain is a greater onus for women and transgender women because of the male-dominated social hierarchy that these individuals are forced to struggle against in the process. Surprisingly studies have shown that LGBT women that are open about their sexuality usually experience less depression. However, there is still an unsettling amount of research that has shown that Transgender women have a lifetime risk for developing depression of about 62% versus the 16% risk for the general population.
A review done this year on the factors that are thought to be behind the lifetime prevalence of depression in transgender women looked at interpersonal and intrapersonal support systems in several studies. The author of this review concluded that although social support from family and self-esteem both influence the risk of developing depression, the woman’s employment status and whether or not she has experienced violence related to her transgender identity are the two most critical factors influencing the rate of depression. Transgender women are thought to suffer violence at the hands of co-workers more often than most LGBT individuals. There is concern that unemployment rates among Transgender women is higher because of harassment and violent assaults at the hands of coworkers, and workplace discrimination against people with transgender identity ends with the victim being blamed. There is a vicious cycle of violence, unemployment, lower economic status, and thus an increased chance of depression in transgender women.
An article in Huffington Post published this year discussed the new workplace training program “Understanding the T in LGBT: Gender Identity and Gender Expression” and how it hopes to help reduce the prevalence of workplace violence and harassment directed against transgender individuals. The online program is part of a Diversity and Inclusion web course series that is designed to increase acceptance of diversity and help prevent identity and cultural “gaps” from leading to workplace harassment. The current rate of workplace harassment experienced by Transgender individuals is reported as 90%.
Dr. M. Mirza, LGBT Health Wellness, 2014