Eating a healthy diet is the cornerstone of living well with diabetes and preventing complications. Unfortunately, transgender individuals on gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) are at increased risk of diabetes. And those already diagnosed with the disease may have to intensify their diabetes management.
Transgender individuals have a gender identity that is different from their sex assigned at birth. According to the UCLA Williams Institute, Blacks are more likely than whites to identify as transgender.
Recent estimates from state and federal data suggest that around 0.6% of the adult population in the USA (1.4 million adults) identify as transgender.
Moreover, close to half (40%) of the adult population of the USA is expected to develop type 2 diabetes at some point during their lifetime, and about 1.25 million Americans are currently living with type 1 diabetes.
Transgender Women (Male to Female) will typically receive estrogen and androgen blockers to make their bodies feminine. Androgens are a group of hormones that play a role in male traits. The primary androgens are testosterone and androstenedione.
There is a strong association between low testosterone and diabetes. Men with diabetes tend to have low testosterone, and men with low testosterone can develop diabetes later in life.
In addition, estrogen may elevate triglycerides and increase the risk for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, particularly among individuals with a family history of diabetes or other risk factors for diabetes.
Transgender Men (Female to Male) are typically given testosterone to make their bodies more masculine. Testosterone suppresses the menstrual cycles and decreases the production of estrogen from the ovaries. Testosterone is associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes in transgender men. Those with significant weight gain, a family history of diabetes, or polycystic ovarian syndrome are at increased risk.