By Dr. Anthony Policastro

A lot of people have opinions about transgender individuals. Some are positive. Some are negative. One opinion is that individuals are attracted to it because it is an alluring lifestyle. Just like any other lifestyle, there are many aspects to it.

An example of this is a study that was done in Norway. They did an online questionnaire of over 50,000 full time students. The entire population of Norway is about 5.5 million people. The number of high school students in the entire country is just about 200,000. Therefore, the study captured a significant portion of the age group being evaluated.

Of those 50,000 students just under 100 of them (one out of every 500) identified themselves as transgender. The figure given in studies in the United States is that about two percent of the student population identify as transgender individuals. Therefore, the percentage in Norway is about 1/10 of that reported in the United States.

The group in Norway evaluated the students to see what impact outside attitudes had on their mental health. They looked at it from several different aspects.

One was by using a life satisfaction survey instrument. The transgender individuals scored lower than their peers for life satisfaction. They also looked at loneliness criteria. The transgender individuals felt more loneliness than their peers.

Another piece of the study was to look at various types of mental illness. The transgender group had significantly higher scores for depression than their peers. They also had significantly higher scores for anxiety than their peers. Over 50 percent of them reported some kind of psychological distress. That compared to under 20 percent for their peers.

They looked at self harm and suicidal thinking. Again over 50 percent of the transgender group showed evidence of this compared to about 20 percent of their peers.

We sometimes forget that our world is interactive. Our behavior has impacts. Sometimes those impacts are positive. Sometimes they are negative. What the data shows is that there is a lot of negative impact from society on the mental health status of transgender individuals. 

COVID update- The total number of new cases continues to decrease. This week the number of new cases nationally was 1,308,000. That is down from 2,439,000 last week. We have been decreasing by about one million cases each week since the Jan. 17 peak. It still has not reached the pre-surge level of 500,000 to 600,000. However, it is getting closer each week.

In Sussex County the number of new cases this week was 603. That is down from 828 last week. It is very close to the 500 – 600 pre-surge level. 

We have now had about 214 million people vaccinated. Of that group 91 million have received a booster dose of vaccine. There have been about 80 million documented cases of COVID-19 infection. We know some of the vaccinated individuals have also had COVID infections so there is some duplicate counting.

 That being said, we are probably getting close to 250 million individuals with antibodies. Only individuals over age 5 are eligible for the vaccine. There are 251 million of them in the country. That means we are getting close to where everyone has either had the vaccine or the illness. That should help reduce the total numbers further going forward.

The current mortality numbers have taken us to just about one out of every 350 Americans dying from COVID infections.