Gender-Affirming Hormone Use in Transgender Individuals: Impact on Behavioral Health and Cognition

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2018 Oct 11;20(12):110. doi: 10.1007/s11920-018-0973-0.


Purpose of review: With increasing numbers of transgender and gender non-binary individuals presenting for care, knowing how to elucidate the mental health and cognitive outcomes of gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) is necessary. This article reviews the present literature covering GAHT effects on mood, behavioral health, and cognition in these individuals and offers research priorities to address knowledge gaps.

Recent findings: Although there are some conflicting data, GAHT overwhelmingly seems to have positive psychological effects in both adolescents and adults. Research tends to support that GAHT reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, lowers perceived and social distress, and improves quality of life and self-esteem in both male-to-female and female-to-male transgender individuals. Clinically, prescribing GAHT can help with gender dysphoria-related mental distress. Thus, timely hormonal intervention represents a crucial tool for improving behavioral wellness in transgender individuals, though effects on cognitive processes fundamental for daily living are unknown. Future research should prioritize better understanding of how GAHT may affect executive functioning.

Keywords: Behavioral health; Cognition; Gender; Gender-affirming hormone therapy; Mood; Sex; Transgender.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Gender Dysphoria / complications
  • Gender Dysphoria / psychology
  • Gender Dysphoria / therapy
  • Gender Identity*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept
  • Transgender Persons / psychology*
  • Transsexualism / complications
  • Transsexualism / psychology
  • Transsexualism / therapy


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones