News Release

New project to provide evidence on hormone therapy for transgender people

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Exeter

A new project will provide transgender people with evidence-based information on what to expect when undergoing gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT).

GAHT, which aims to align the characteristics of an individual with their gender identity, is the most common form of medical intervention for transgender people.

But very little research has examined how GAHT shapes social thoughts, feelings and behaviour as well as people’s relationships.

Dr David Matthew Doyle, of the University of Exeter, has been awarded a €1.5 million European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for the project, called AFFIRM Relationships.

"Many transgender people experience uncertainty about what will happen psychosocially during gender-affirming hormone therapy," Dr Doyle said.

"With limited evidence-based information available, they often have to go to friends, or look online or on social media to find out about other people's experiences.

"The goal of this project is to provide scientific evidence about what sorts of outcomes they might expect, especially in terms of their emotional and social lives."

Dr Doyle added: "In the past, transgender healthcare has often been about health professionals telling people what sort of care they should have.

"This is now shifting. AFFIRM Relationships will empower transgender people, ensuring they know what to expect and enabling them to give informed consent for their own care."

The project will seek to identify the causal links between GAHT and psychosocial functioning (a combination of psychological well-being, self-control and interpersonal functioning).

It will also empower transgender people to voice their personal and relational experiences in the context of GAHT.

The project's results could guide policy and practice for gender identity services in the UK and globally.

Dr Doyle said the project would also be the largest longitudinal cohort study of UK transgender people receiving GAHT.

He is one of 397 early-career researchers to win an ERC Starting Grant, with €619 million awarded in total.

The grants are intended to help "ambitious younger researchers launch their own projects, form their teams and pursue their best ideas".

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “With this very first round of long-awaited grants, I am glad to see the European Research Council remaining a flagship for excellent and curiosity-driven science under the Horizon Europe programme.

"I am looking forward to seeing what new breakthroughs and opportunities the new ERC laureates will bring, and how they will inspire young people to follow their curiosity and make discoveries for the benefit of us all.”

The full title of the AFFIRM Relationships project is: "Implications of Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy for Psychosocial Functioning and Social Relationships of Transgender People."

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