FRIDAY, July 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Sex hormone levels in transgender youth are consistent with the gender they were assigned at birth, a new study finds.
"We've now put to rest the residual belief that transgender experience is a result of a hormone imbalance. It's not," Dr. Johanna Olson, who practices adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said in a hospital news release.
At birth, babies are typically assigned a gender based on their external genitalia. Transgender people have a different gender identity than the one they were given at birth, the researchers said.
The study included 101 transgender youth. They were between the ages of 12 and 24. There was nearly an equal number who had been assigned "male" at birth but identify as female, and who were assigned "female" at birth but identify as male.
On average, the participants realized they were transgender at about age 8 but waited until age 17 to tell their families. Keeping this knowledge secret can harm a person's mental health. Thirty-five percent of the participants had suffered depression, more than half said they thought about suicide and 30 percent made at least one suicide attempt, the researchers said.
The study was published July 21 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
"My goal is to move kids who are having a gender atypical experience from survive to thrive," said Olson. "With this study, we hope to identify the best way to accomplish that."
The ongoing study of transgender youth will track the safety and effectiveness of medical intervention, along with how intervention affects quality of life and mental health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about gender identity.