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The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding
Research on health outcomes for transgender people is very limited, although some studies suggest that long-term hormone use may increase the risk for cancer. Similarly, very little research, particularly in the United States, has examined the effects and side effects of hormone treatment on physical health (including reproductive health), and no clinical trials on this subject have been conducted.
Lesbians and bisexual women may be at greater risk for obesity, although the data on bisexual women are less clear. Insufficient research has been conducted to elucidate the mechanisms of risk.
HIV continues to exact a severe toll on adult men who have sex with men, with black and Latino men being disproportionately affected. Among transgender people, little HIV research has been conducted, but small studies suggest that transgender females are at high risk.
Little research on HIV has been conducted among women who have sex with women. The few studies that exist suggest higher HIV prevalence among women who have sex with both men and women compared with exclusively heterosexual or homosexual women.
Risk and Protective Factors
LGBT people are frequently the targets of stigma and discrimination because of their sexual- and gender-minority status.
LGB adults experience violent victimization because of their sexual-minority status. Convenience samples of transgender people have yielded similar results.
Like heterosexual adults, LGB adults experience intimate partner violence. Data on the frequency and extent of such violence are extremely limited.
LGB adults appear to have higher rates of substance use (including smoking and alcohol consumption) than heterosexual adults. Most of the research on this subject has been conducted among women, with much less being known about gay and bisexual men. Limited research among transgender adults indicates that substance use is a major concern for this population.
Although the research on protective factors for LGBT adults is limited, there is some indication that such factors as supportive living/working environments, support from family and friends, and a positive LGB identity may be protective. The limited amount of research on transgender people has focused less on protective factors and more on the factors associated with positive outcomes of sex reassignment (psychological adjustment, family support, psychological treatment, and good surgical outcomes).