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  • Writer's pictureLiliana Turecki

ADHD in the Transgender Population

Updated: May 31

Being transgender with ADHD comes with its share of challenges, especially if you’re expected to operate in a world designed for a neurotypical and cisgender population.

Remember, ADHD offers many positive qualities aside from just being “a diagnostic mental condition made up of negative symptoms.” Unbending persistence, the ability to hyperfocus, and out-of-the-box creativity stay with you at all times as your ADHD pride.

When someone is diagnosed with ADHD, the part of their brain associated with focusing, planning, and executing tasks doesn’t perform as well as it should. ADHD also comes with three sub-types: hyperactive, inattentive, and, combined subtype. About 4.4% of adults in the U.S. live with ADHD. When it comes to the prevalence of ADHD in the transgender population, however, there is a substantial lack of research.

What the Research Reveals

A new Kaiser Permanente research was conducted based on the electronic health records of 1,347 gender-non-confirming and transgender children and teens between the ages of 3 and 17 years. The group was 56% transmasculine and 44% transfeminine.

The results revealed ADHD to be the common diagnosis for children and teens. The resulting diagnosis also showed that ADHD was 3 to 7 times more prevalent among transgender children and teens when compared to their cisgender counterparts.

“We looked at mental health in transgender and gender-nonconforming youth retrospectively between 2006 and 2014 and found that these youths had three to 13 times the mental health conditions of their cisgender counterparts,” Tracy A. Becerra-Culqui, the study’s lead author said, “Among these young people, the most prevalent diagnoses were attention deficit disorders in children, 3 to 9 years of age and depressive disorders in adolescents, 10 to 17 years of age.”

Challenges Transgender Children and Teens Face with their ADHD Diagnosis

Much research is needed to uncover how ADHD unfolds among young people on the journey to explore, question, and define their gender identity. Matters can get even more challenging for those diagnosed with ADHD in their childhood, with issues like emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, focus, and planning. Understanding how young people explore their identities intersects with neurodiversity can help parents, teachers, and clinicians extend their support better.

Supports like online ADHD coaching, peer support groups, and some incredible educational resources like ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association) can help you be your best ADHD version.


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