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Demographic Characteristics, Components of Sexuality and Gender, and Minority Stress and Their Associations to Excessive Alcohol, Cannabis, and Illicit (Noncannabis) Drug Use Among a Large Sample of Transgender People in the United States

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Abstract

The current study examined demographics, sexual orientation, gender characteristics, and gender minority stress and their association to excessive alcohol, cannabis, and illicit (noncannabis) drug use among 1210 transgender adults living in the United States. The authors conducted a secondary analysis of data that included 680 transgender women (M age = 32.63, SD age = 12.29) and 530 transgender men (M age = 26.14, SD age = 7.42). A modified version of the Risk Behavioral Assessment quantified participants’ alcohol, cannabis, and illicit drug use in the past 3 months. Overall, 21.5% of participants reported excessive alcohol use; no significant differences were found on the rates of excessive alcohol use between transgender women and men. Cannabis use among our sample was 24.4%; trangender men reported significantly higher rates of cannabis use compared to transgender women. Illicit drug (noncannabis) use among our sample was 11.6%; transgender men also reported significantly higher rates of illicit drug use compared to transgender women. Multivariate analyses suggested that gender dysphoria was significantly associated with: excessive alcohol use for transgender women, cannabis use among both transgender women and men, and illicit (noncannabis) drug use among transgender women. A nonheterosexual orientation was associated with increased odds of cannabis use among transgender women and men; a nonheterosexual orientation was associated with greater odds of illicit substance use among transgender men but not among transgender women. Gender minority stressors were independently associated with excessive alcohol use among transgender men and cannabis use among transgender women. The authors suggest that minority stress may only partially account for substance use among transgender people. Consequently, the authors suggest that in addition to minority stress, other biopsychosocial mechanisms should continue to be examined to identify pathways that may lead to the development of effective substance use prevention efforts and treatment programs.

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Acknowledgements

The data obtained and reported in this publication were supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Project # 5R01DA015269; Principal Investigator: Bockting, W.O.) and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (US) (5R01HD057595).

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Gonzalez, C.A., Gallego, J.D. & Bockting, W.O. Demographic Characteristics, Components of Sexuality and Gender, and Minority Stress and Their Associations to Excessive Alcohol, Cannabis, and Illicit (Noncannabis) Drug Use Among a Large Sample of Transgender People in the United States. J Primary Prevent 38, 419–445 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-017-0469-4

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