Non-Binary and Binary Gender Identity in Australian Trans and Gender Diverse Individuals

Abstract

Many trans and gender diverse (TGD) people have gender identities that are not exclusively male or female but instead fall in-between or outside of the gender binary (non-binary). It remains unclear if and how those with non-binary gender identity differ from TGD individuals with binary identities. We aimed to understand the sociodemographic and mental health characteristics of people with non-binary identities compared with binary TGD identities. We performed a retrospective audit of new consultations for gender dysphoria between 2011 and 2016 in three clinical settings in Melbourne, Australia; (1) Equinox Clinic, an adult primary care clinic, (2) an adult endocrine specialist clinic, and (3) the Royal Children’s Hospital, a child and adolescent specialist referral clinic. Age (grouped by decade), gender identity, sociodemographic, and mental health conditions were recorded. Of 895 TGD individuals, 128 (14.3%) had a non-binary gender. Proportions differed by clinical setting; 30.4% of people attending the adult primary care clinic, 7.4% attending the adult endocrine specialist clinic, and 8.0% attending the pediatric clinic identified as non-binary. A total of 29% of people in the 21–30-year-old age-group had a non-binary gender identity, higher than all other age-groups. Compared to TGD people with a binary gender identity, non-binary people had lower rates of gender-affirming interventions, and a higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, and illicit drug use. Tailoring clinical services to be inclusive of non-binary people and strategies to support mental health are required. Further research to better understand health needs and guide evidence-based gender-affirming interventions for non-binary people are needed.

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Acknowledgements

Ada Cheung is supported by an Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship (#1143333) and receives research support from the Viertel Charitable Foundation Clinical Investigator Award, Endocrine Society of Australia Postdoctoral Award and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians Vincent Fairfax Family.

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Correspondence to Ada S. Cheung.

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This retrospective chart review study involving human participants was in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The Austin Health Human Research Ethics Committee (LNR/17/Austin/102) approved this study.

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Cheung, A.S., Leemaqz, S.Y., Wong, J.W.P. et al. Non-Binary and Binary Gender Identity in Australian Trans and Gender Diverse Individuals. Arch Sex Behav 49, 2673–2681 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01689-9

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Keywords

  • Transgender
  • Transsexualism
  • Gender identity
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Non-Binary