A cross-sectional study of mental health, suicidal ideation and suicide attempt among transgender women in Jiangsu province, China

J Affect Disord. 2020 Dec 1;277:869-874. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.09.002. Epub 2020 Sep 7.


Objectives: To measure prevalence and risk factors of poor mental health, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempt among transgender women in Jiangsu province, China.

Methods: We surveyed 250 transgender women with mean age of 27.9 years from July 2018 to May 2019 in Jiangsu province, China. Logistic regression analysis characterized risk factors for mental health, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempt.

Results: Many transgender women experienced discrimination, including verbal abuse (56.0%), physical abuse (32.0%), and sexual violence (32.0%) during their lifetime. Classification by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale found 32.4%% to be in good mental health, while 24.0%, 16.8%, and 26.8% had mild, moderate, and severe psychological distress respectively. In multivariable logistic regression, severe psychological distress was correlated with bisexual orientation (vs. gay/lesbian, aOR = 2.9, 95%CI = 1.5-5.8), being unsure of sexual orientation (vs. gay/lesbian, aOR = 4.7, 95%CI = 1.8-12.8), experience of verbal abuse (aOR = 1.8, 95%CI = 1.1-3.1), and less severe with alcohol use (aOR = 0.6, 95%CI = 0.3-0.9) (P< 0.05). Many transgender women also reported suicidal ideation (22.0%) and prior suicide attempt (25.6%). Compared to no suicidal ideation, moderate (aOR = 4.9, 95%CI = 1.6-15.2) or severe psychological distress (aOR = 38.6) were associated with prior suicide attempt (P< 0.05). Residing in Jiangsu province (vs. not residing in Jiangsu, aOR = 0.3, 95%CI = 0.1-0.6) and higher income (vs. lower income, aOR = 0.6, 95%CI = 0.4-0.9) were protective factors for suicide attempt (P< 0.05).

Conclusion: Chinese transgender women experience high levels of discrimination, abuse, poor mental health, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts in Jiangsu province. Society-wide interventions need to be developed to mitigate transphobic discrimination among transgender women in China.

Keywords: Mental health; Risk factors; Suicidal ideation; Suicide attempt; Transgender women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide, Attempted*
  • Transgender Persons*