Duke U Analysis Finds Trans Freshmen Drink To Excess More

Mar 21, 2017

An analysis from Duke University found that transgender college freshmen are more likely to have negative experiences from drinking than their peers.
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An analysis from Duke University found that transgender college freshmen are more likely to have negative experiences from drinking than their peers.

Psychiatry Professor Scott Swartzwelder and his team analyzed a survey of more than 422,000 freshmen. Swartzwelder says transgender students were more likely to report that drinking was a means of dealing with stress or interpersonal problems.

“College administrators and clinicians who interact with these students should be prepared to provide them with better and more effective coping strategies,” Swartzwelder said.

Students from 370 U.S. colleges and universities took the survey in 2015 through the alcohol abuse prevention program called AlcoholEdu for College. More than 64 percent of survey respondents reported having at least one alcoholic drink within the previous year. Students who reported drinking in the previous two weeks were asked to complete a more detailed description of those activities, according to Duke.

More than one-third of transgender students reported having consumed so much alcohol in a short period of time that they forgot where they were or what they did at least once in the previous two weeks. This is referred to as “blacking out” in many circles of young people. For comparison, one-quarter of cisgender students reported drinking to this level at least once in the previous two weeks.

“For people who work with this age group, it’s important to understand that these students are drinking at levels that are quite dangerous,” Swartzwelder said. “A blackout is a serious neurological event that occurs when you drink enough to impair the parts of your brain that encode new memory. The last thing you want to do as a college student is disrupt your memory.”

Among transgender students, those transitioning from a male to female identity reported the highest incidence of negative consequences and risky behaviors from drinking.

Additional details from the Duke analysis found:

  • 26 percent of transgender students said they had passed out from alcohol use during the previous two weeks, as compared to 13 percent of cisgender students
  • 21 percent of transgender students said they drove after consuming five or more drinks as compared to 4 percent of cisgender students
  • 19 percent of transgender students said they got in trouble with authorities as a result of drinking, as compared to 4 percent of cisgender students
  • 21 percent of transgender students said they deliberately vomited in order to continue drinking as compared to 5 percent of cisgender students
  • 19 percent of transgender students said they had been taken advantage of sexually due to drinking during the previous two weeks compared to 8 percent of cisgender students