health hazard

STUDY: Trans Women Denied Breast Implants 30X More Likely To Commit Suicide

A study conducted by Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare has some alarming data regarding trans women who are refused breast implants: They’re more than 30 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.

The study was recently cited by the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights (RFSL), which was condemning the board for the inconsistent way trans patients are treated in the country’s nationalized healthcare system.

“It’s not acceptable that a small and vulnerable group is given different rights to care depending on where in the country they live,” a statement by RFSL read. “Breast implants for transgender women are in many cases a very important measure for them to function with their new identity and allow them to fit in as women in everyday life… Plastic surgery for transsexual patients, to a large extent, saves lives.”

RFSL reached out the Board after a trans woman was reportedly denied implants by hospital in western Sweden

While no similar study has been conducted in the States, a 2010 survey conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force revealed that 41% of all trans people in America have attempted suicide, as opposed to .3% of the general population.

Source: The Local

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  • rhenaiya

    This article is no shock to me. as a trans woman I am experiencing this very problem and I have thought about it quite a bit. I know many will not understand and think it’s a vanity issue, but it’s more than that. Having surgery to affirm our gender identity is vital for almost all trans people, and each surgery that does so helps us in more ways than one. For example, trans depression mainly stems from the disconnect between our bodies appearance and our gender identity. This type of surgery is sought after so we can look in a mirror without crying and hopefully repair what we felt went wrong with our bodies as birth. Also, such surgeries can often help trans people “pass” on a social level, which can be the difference between a positive experience blending in or a dangerous situation being more easily identified as trans by bashers. It’s unfortunate that even with all the research and progress made for trans care, most countries with health care still deny coverage for such things, citing that they are elective rather than life saving.
    I say that transitioning is most often the only path many of us see as a way to feeling whole and having a life worth living, and that the suicide rates are proof positive that to deny care is to psychologically cripple trans people even more by belittling their suffering. If it wasn’t for the hormone therapy I am recieving and the amazing support I get from friends and family I would have done myself in years ago. I can’t afford to pay for any surgeries right now and being “mid-transition” doesn’t help my chances of employment as I know my dual-gendered appearance is unsettling to many. I mean, if a person can smoke and get lung cancer, or a person can take up extreme skiing and break their back can get coverage to repair the afflictions they wrought upon themselves by living an unhealthy or risky lifestyle, what sense does it make to deny trans people corrective surgery for what many of us view as a birth defect completely beyond our control?
    I call shenanigans, well actually I call trans-phobia on the health care systems that take a non-care stance on this issue. In fact I would go so far as to say trans-phobia is actually a case of homophobia with individuals afraid that they may become attracted to someone who was born a different sex than they appear. If they don’t give credence to the trans persons chosen gender identity, it’s a case of same sex attraction to a phobic, something they may consciously trying to avoid. That’s how we end up with dead trans women and transphobes claiming they were decieved and “panicked”. There’s no “panic”, just the rage of a person who is so homophobic that such an encounter challenges their beliefs and perceptions. Really, people need to get over it and see we are just people trying to be happy and safe dealing with our lot in life.

  • SteveC

    Sweden (like all EU countries) has universal free healthcare that would cover gender reassignment – surgery, hormone treatments etc on their national health service. Breast enlargement with silicon or saline implants would not necessarily be covered.

    I thought that hormone treatments for trans women, caused breast growth?

    I think that unless biological women are entitled to breast implants on the national health service – which they are not – then the Swedish health service would be reluctant to pay for it for trans women.

    Nontrans and trans womem both, are fully entitled to pay for their breast implants, by saving up and paying for them.

  • Jill Davidson

    @SteveC: There is great variability in a trans woman’s response to hormones, depending on age, genetics, and a variety of other factors. Many trans women get adequate growth just from hormones. By “adequate” I mean enough that they blend with women born female and that the trans woman feels more feminine.

    I don’t know enough about Sweden’s national health service. In the USA, under some insurance plans, women are covered for breast reconstruction following mastectomy, but not to make their natural breasts larger. There is a big issue here about whether breast reconstruction for trans women is as medically necessary as it may be for cis women following mastectomy. Hormone treatment is medically necessary, and trans women need to be on hormones at least two years before most surgeons would do implants. If a woman pays the bill, she can get almost anything done she’s willing to pay for. But for it to be covered by insurance, someone needs to determine medical necessity for that individual woman, which gets into an aesthetic judgment of their breasts, and comes close to “cosmetic”. How much growth is enough?

  • Aiden

    This is sad. It’s well known and ignored fact that passing isn’t just about vanity, it’s about safety.

  • JayKay

    The government shouldn’t be paying for anyone’s elective cosmetic surgery.

  • Vivek

    Your Information is so Informative.

  • rhenaiya

    Quote from wikipedia “Having a cleft palate/lip does not inevitably lead to a psychosocial problem. Most children who have their clefts repaired early enough are able to have a happy youth and a healthy social life. However, it is important to remember that adolescents with cleft palate/lip are at an elevated risk for developing psychosocial problems especially those relating to self concept, peer relationships, and appearance. It is important for parents to be aware of the psychosocial challenges their adolescents may face and to know where to find professional help if problems arise.”

    The reason I posted that quote is to draw a comparison. Cleft palate surgery is covered for both physical reasons and psychological reasons. Now if a person can “function” well enough, is the cleft palate surgery an elective cosmetic surgery? Um yeah, I think it is. So, as another commenter said, should we deny kids coverage for corrective cosmetic surgery? I don’t think so, because sometimes a physical defect while not being directly physically crippling, it can be psychologically crippling.
    Another example could be breast reduction surgery, which is also covered. In order to prevent future spinal problems associated with back pain and posture, a breast reduction surgery is performed. How do we know these women are actually in pain? Oh yeah, because we believe them when they tell us. How do we know all these women will end up with spinal problems in the future? We don’t, but research suggests that is the most likely outcome and we always pay attention to what medical/scientific research tells us, don’t we? Oh, we don’t!? Weird.
    Finally I would draw the comparison, again, that people who lead high risk lifestyles and make choices that put their health at risk are “electing” to do so. You smoke, get cancer, get covered. You drink, roll your car and get paralyzed, get covered. You overdose on ecstacy, fall off your unicycle and get herpes from a prostitute, you get covered. So at what point did trans people “elect” to be born in the wrong body? Oh yeah, we didn’t.
    So to finish I would suggest that only someone ill-informed, transphobic or even just incompassionate would imply that for a trans individual any of their surgeries is merely elctive or cosmetic. This is unfortunately a most frequent opinion of people who don’t like the idea of government health care (until they need some) or those who, when it comes to transexuals “don’t know and don’t care”. Well I don’t know anyone with a cleft palate, but if I did I would conclude that while I don’t know what kind of struggle that can be for them specifically, I would still hope they could get the help they were seeking to live a happy and healthy life. As for drugged up, fornicating unicyclists. Go fuck yourselves.

  • Michael

    This story has absolutely nothing to do with gay people. Stop insinuating that gay people are in the same category as transgenders. Gay men don’t want to get breast implants and don’t want to alter their bodies to appear to be women.

    As for the story itself, it is nonsense. The Swedes “found” that transgenders who were denied breast implants attempt suicide at a rate 30 times that of the general population. But the NGLTF study found that the suicide rate for all trans people is much higher than 30 times the rate for the general population. So apparently, denying transgenders breast implants reduces the rate of attempted suicides. Hopefully, all trans breast implants will be denied and the suicide rate reduced.

  • rhenaiya

    I’m a trans woman AND a lesbian, so I disagree that homosexual and trans issues are a seperate and unrelated thing. Also, I would say it’s obvious that gay doesn’t equal transexual, so don’t worry because nobody is going to force anyone to have breasts (that would be ridiculous). I can’t say for sure but my understanding of the story is that transexual women are an additional 30 times more likely to attempt suicide if denied breast augmentation, this on top of the already 30-40% of the entire transexual suicide rate. It seems that ignorance about the meaning of transexualism isn’t limited to non-lgbt individuals, but hey, what a great opportunity to open up discussions and promote understanding :) So ya, forced boob jobs=bad, reduced suicides=good. mmm truth is yummy!

  • BlackRockRitual

    First of all, I think that people have an equal right to breast implants no matter their gender.

    On the other hand, I don’t that that anyone should get them. Breasts DO NOT make you a woman, they are lumps of fat. Chub men tend to have breasts, you know why? Because they have lots of body fat. A lot of the clash between feminists and transwomen comes from some, transwomen, insisting so strongly in giving into the most objectifying, stereotyping, and meaningless aspects of what it is to be a woman.

    Should women who are flat chested feel any less like a woman? Just because they don’t have fat on their chest? And what of fat women, who only have a noticeable pair of breasts, because of their high fat content on their bodies, feel any less like women because of that?

    Of course not. Then why should breasts, even more so, breast implants be particularly important to transwomen? Breast implants aren’t healthy. If you want boobs, those hormones are likely to give them to you. But they’re just BOOBS. They’re body fat, don’t let them make you feel less or more like a woman. Women, trans or born with fully functioning vagina, do not need to have boobs to feel good about themselves. Just like women shouldn’t feel the need to feel skinny to feel good about themselves.

    If you’re going to consider yourself a woman, I’m going to treat you like one. And women should reject the need to feel busty, yet skinny. Women do not need to feel fat on any portion of their bodies, and they do not need to feel skinny on any portion of their bodies.

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