Updated Feb 14, 2024 - News

Report retracted: Arkansas' gender dysphoria diagnoses rise

Editor's note: After this article was published Jan. 16, 2024, the company that was the source of the data, Definitive Healthcare, retracted its report and removed the link to the findings.

  • Axios pressed Definitive Healthcare for an explanation multiple times. On Feb. 2, the company sent Axios a statement: "Upon review, we determined that the analysis cited in the referenced article was below our standards, so we elected to retract the article."
  • Based on that statement, Axios is no longer confident in the report. For transparency, the original article remains below. The maps have been removed.

Gender dysphoria diagnoses in Arkansas jumped 42% from 2018 to 2022, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report from a new Definitive Healthcare analysis.

The big picture: Such diagnoses rose in nearly every state in that time frame — falling only in South Dakota, which last year became the sixth state to restrict gender-affirming care for minors.

Why it matters: The nearly nationwide increases suggest growing demand for gender-affirming care, even amid efforts in many states to restrict access.

Zoom in: Arkansas' ban on gender-affirming care for patients under age 18 was struck down by a federal judge in June.

Be smart: Gender dysphoria is psychological distress felt by people who believe their assigned sex fails to match their gender identity.

  • Not all transgender people experience or are diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
  • But such a diagnosis is often a first step when seeking gender-related mental health care or gender-affirming care in order to access treatment and activate insurance coverage.

State of play: Conservative leaders and lawmakers nationwide have sought to restrict gender-affirming care in recent years — in some cases, requiring those seeking such care to travel out of state to receive it.

  • However, not all who want such care have the means to travel.
  • Research shows that access to gender-affirming care can help reduce depression and suicide, while transgender advocates say promoting bans on gender-affirming care can fuel discrimination and hate crimes.

What's happening: The share of gender dysphoria diagnoses among patients under 18 increased from 17.5% to 20.4% from 2018 to 2022 — perhaps a reflection of trans identities and gender identity ideas becoming "more accepted by society," as the report put it.

Of note: Gender-affirming care is supported by major medical associations, and the transgender population remains relatively small — about 1.6 million people 13 and over, per one estimate, or about 0.5% of the total U.S. population.

The bottom line: Gender dysphoria diagnoses are generally increasing; however, receiving one is only an early step on many transgender Americans' physical and mental health care journeys.

  • What comes next continues to depend heavily on where they live and what resources are available to them.
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