Metro Weekly

Study: Transgender youth get pregnant at same rate as general population

Even if they're on hormones, transgender youth need to be aware of possible pregnancy risk

Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant woman (Credit: Canwest News Service, via Wikimedia Commons).

Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant woman – Credit: Canwest News Service, via Wikimedia Commons.

A first-of-its-kind study out of British Columbia has found that transgender youth get pregnant at about the same rate as the general population.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Transgenderismcould provide more insight into the type of sex education being provided to transgender youth.

Using the Canadian Transgender Youth Health Survey of 540 youth from across the country, the study found that five percent of sexually active transgender youth aged 14-25 had become pregnant or had gotten someone pregnant at least once.

That’s identical to the 5 percent of all sexually active youth in British Columba who have become pregnant or impregnated someone, reports the Vancouver Sun.

“To a great degree, many clinicians working with trans youth don’t necessarily see them as sexually active, or sexually active in ways that could lead to pregnancy,” says Elizabeth Saewyc, the study’s senior author and a professor of nursing at the University of British Columbia. “And if you’re taking hormones it’s assumed they reduce fertility so even if you are sexually active you won’t get pregnant. That’s just not the case.”

Saewyc, who was surprised at the study’s results, told the Sun that the problem may not be on people’s radar because of the conflation of gender identity with sexual identity.

“The assumption is they’re heterosexual, but sexual orientation is different from your gender identity and the body parts you have,” she said.

That means that health care providers or sexual educators need to make sure to cover topics such as pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases with transgender youth to the same extent they do with cisgender youth. 

“It’s an important responsibility for health care providers to let trans youth know what the risks are to make sure they know how to protect themselves,” said Saewyc.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com