Hair removal and psychological well-being in transfeminine adults: associations with gender dysphoria and gender euphoria

Nova J. Bradford, Nic G. Rider, Katherine G. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Hair removal procedures, including electrolysis and laser hair removal, are the most commonly pursued gender-affirmative medical interventions by transfeminine people, but previous empirical studies have not examined their relationship to psychological well-being. Materials and Methods: Participants were 281 transfeminine adults in the United States who responded to an online questionnaire. Results: Satisfaction with one’s current state of hair removal was negatively correlated with situational body image dysphoria, depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and negative affect, and positively correlated with positive affect. Conclusions: Results of this study suggest that hair removal is associated with both decreased distress but also increased subjective well-being (e.g. higher positive affect). Though the construct of ‘gender euphoria’ has been introduced in previous publications, it has thus far not been rigorously defined or operationalized within health research. These results suggest that gender euphoria can be understood in terms of increased subjective well-being associated with gender affirmation, including gender-affirmative medical interventions. This study demonstrates a significant association between hair removal services and depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms, situational body image dysphoria, positive affect, and negative affect in transfeminine adults. These findings cast significant doubt on the assertion that hair removal services for transfeminine people are ‘cosmetic.’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-642
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dermatological Treatment
Volume32
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 22 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The study was funded using departmental funds of the National Center for Gender Spectrum Health, a program of the Program in Human Sexuality within the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health of the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Keywords

  • Transgender
  • gender dysphoria
  • hair removal
  • mental health

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