Drug Use Among Transgender People in Ontario, Canada

Disparities and Associations With Social Exclusion

We identified the prevalence and correlates of past-year illicit drug use among transgender people in Ontario, Canada, and disparities with the age-standardized non-transgender population.

Methods: Data on transgender persons aged 16 + (n = 406) were obtained from Trans PULSE, a respondent-driven sampling (RDS) survey (2009–2010). Overall and sex-specific estimates of past-year drug use (cocaine and amphetamines, based on data availability) in the reference population were obtained from Ontario residents aged 16 + (n = 39, 980) in the Canadian Community Health Survey (2009–2010), and standardized to the overall and gender-specific transgender age distributions. For regression analyses with Trans PULSE data, past-year drug use included drug types associated with high risk of physical, psychological, and social harm to the user, and RDS-II weights were applied to frequencies and prevalence ratios (PR) derived from blockwise logistic regression models.

Results: An estimated 12.3% (95% CI: 7.7, 17.0) of transgender Ontarians had used at least one of the specified drugs in the past year, with no significant difference by gender identity. Transgender Ontarians were more likely to use both cocaine (standardized prevalence difference; SPD = 6.8%; 95% CI = 1.6, 10.9) and amphetamines (SPD = SPD = 1.3%, 95% CI = 0.2, 3.1) as compared to the age-standardized non-transgender population. History of transphobic assault, homelessness or underhousing, and sex work were associated with greater drug use among transgender persons.

Conclusions: The prevalence of cocaine and amphetamine use among transgender people in Ontario, Canada was higher than in the age-standardized reference population. Social exclusion predicted within-group variation in drug use among transgender persons.

Reference: Scheim AI, Bauer GR, Shokoohi M. Drug use among transgender people in Ontario, Canada: Disparities and associations with social exclusion. Addictive Behaviors 2017; 72:151-158. doi: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.03.022.