Transgender and cisgender US veterans have few health differences

Janelle Downing, Kerith Conron, Jody L. Herman, John R. Blosnich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Transgender people have been able to serve openly in the military since June 2016. However, the administration of President Donald Trump has signaled its interest in reinstating a ban on transgender military service. In March 2018 President Trump issued a revised memorandum that stated, in part, that people with a "history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria" who "may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery-are disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances." Whether and how the health of transgender service members differs from that of cisgender service members (that is, those who identify with their sex assigned at birth) is largely unknown. This study used population-level data for 2014-16 from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to compare the health of transgender and cisgender veterans and civilians. An estimated 0.5 percent of veterans in the sample identified themselves as transgender. While transgender civilians had worse health than cisgender civilians across most indicators, very few differences existed among veterans. However, transgender veterans had higher odds of having at least one disability compared to cisgender veterans, despite similar levels of access to health care. These findings largely suggest that transgender veterans do not have worse health than cisgender veterans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1160-1168
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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