Introduction: There is a paucity of systematic research in the area of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in trans people.
Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of NSSI in trans people and the associations with intra- and interpersonal problems.
Methods: Participants were 155 untreated individuals with a diagnosis of transsexualism (according to International Classification of Disease-10 criteria) attending a national gender identity clinic.
Main outcome measures: All participants completed the Self-Injury Questionnaire, the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Hamburg Body Drawing Scale, the Experiences of Transphobia Scale, the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems-32, and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support.
Results: The sample consisted of 66.5% trans women and 33.5% trans men and 36.8% of them had a history of engaging in NSSI. The prevalence of NSSI was significantly higher in trans men (57.7%) compared with trans women (26.2%). Trans individuals with NSSI reported more psychological and interpersonal problems and perceived less social support compared with trans individuals without NSSI. Moreover, the probability of having experienced physical harassment related to being trans was highest in trans women with NSSI (compared with those without NSSI). The study found that with respect to psychological symptoms, trans women reported significantly more intrapersonal and interpersonal symptoms compared with trans men. Finally, the results of the regression analysis showed that the probability of engaging in NSSI by trans individuals was significantly positively related to a younger age, being trans male, and reporting more psychological symptoms.
Conclusions: The high levels of NSSI behavior and its association with interpersonal and interpersonal difficulties and lack of social support need to be taken into consideration when assessing trans individuals. The effect of cross-sex hormones and sex reassignment surgery on psychological functioning, including NSSI behavior, as part of the transitional journey of trans individuals should be explored in future studies.
Keywords: Gender Dysphoria; Interpersonal Functioning; NSSI; Social Support; Trans; Transsexualism; Victimization.
© 2014 International Society for Sexual Medicine.