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Published Online: 1 August 2022

“Being Trans Intersects with My Cultural Identity”: Social Determinants of Mental Health Among Asian Transgender People

Publication: Transgender Health
Volume 7, Issue Number 4


Purpose: While studies on the relationship between social determinants and mental health among transgender people in Asia are increasing, there is a paucity of research on Asian transgender people living in Western countries. This study aimed to examine how social positions (gender, ethnicity, and migrant status) and social determinants of mental health were inter-related for Asian transgender people in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Methods: We analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data from Asian participants (n=49) who responded to the 2018 Counting Ourselves: Aotearoa New Zealand Trans and Non-Binary Health Survey.
Results: Overall, 35% reported a very high psychological distress level. There were high levels of unmet needs for gender-affirming care, and participants reported a range of negative experiences at health care settings. About two-fifths had been discriminated because of their transgender (42%) or Asian (39%) identities. Fewer than half of participants felt that their family members were supportive of them being transgender (44%), and most reported they had supportive friends (73%). More than two-thirds of participants (68%) had a strong sense of belongingness to the transgender community and 35% reported this for the Asian community. Qualitative findings revealed specific challenges that participants experienced; these included barriers to accessing health care due to their migrant status and language barriers, influences of Asian cultures on mental health experiences, and rejection by family and people in Asian communities.
Conclusion: Our study provides evidence for health care providers, researchers, and policy makers to employ a culturally appropriate lens to improve knowledge about the intersectional experiences of being Asian and transgender.

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Cite this article as: Tan KKH, Yee A, Veale JF (2022) “Being trans intersects with my cultural identity”: social determinants of mental health among Asian transgender people, Transgender Health 7:4, 329–339, DOI: 10.1089/trgh.2021.0007.

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Published In

cover image Transgender Health
Transgender Health
Volume 7Issue Number 4August 2022
Pages: 329 - 339


Published in print: August 2022
Published online: 1 August 2022
Published ahead of print: 12 May 2021


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Transgender Health Research Lab, School of Psychology, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Ashe Yee
Transgender Health Research Lab, School of Psychology, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Transgender Health Research Lab, School of Psychology, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.


Address correspondence to: Kyle K.H. Tan, PhD, Transgender Health Research Lab, School of Psychology, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand, [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (J.F.V., 17/587), the Rule Foundation; and the University of Waikato. The first author acknowledges the financial support received through a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship.

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