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The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding
for the other phases of the life course discussed in Chapters 4 and 6. These data provide some key insights into the health status of LGBT adults, which are presented below.
Mental Health Status
As a group, LGB adults, largely behaviorally defined, appear to experience more mood and anxiety disorders than heterosexual adults. Little research has examined the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders among transgender people.
LGB adults appear to be more likely than heterosexual adults to experience depression both over a period of 12 months and over a lifetime. Very limited research on transgender adults and depression has been undertaken, but studies conducted with convenience samples suggest elevated rates of risk in this population.
Studies suggest that LGB people are more likely than heterosexual people to report suicidal ideation and behavior. Some evidence indicates that suicidal ideation and behavior may vary by sexual orientation and gender. Studies of transgender people suggest their rates of suicidal ideation and behavior may be comparable to or higher than those in LGB populations.
Limited research has explored the prevalence of eating disorders within the LGBT community. These studies indicate that gay and bisexual men may be at higher risk for eating disorders compared with heterosexual men. Far less research has explored rates of eating disorders among lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender people.
Results of older studies suggest that the vast majority of individuals who underwent sex reassignment surgery are satisfied with the results. More recent research on this subject has not been conducted.
Physical Health Status
Very limited research suggests that gay men have higher rates of erectile dysfunction than heterosexual men. Little research has focused on reproductive health among LGBT people.
Lesbians and bisexual women may be at higher risk for breast cancer than heterosexual women. Some research suggests that lesbians and bisexuals have higher rates of risk factors associated with breast cancer, although the data are not clear.
Men who have sex with men, particularly those who are HIV-positive, are at increased risk for anal cancer. Currently, there exist no guidelines recommending routine anal cancer screenings and no consensus on the optimal method or frequency of such screening.