Thanks to a lot of headlines and the social media, most of us are at least vaguely aware that LGBTQ kids are likely to attempt suicide in their lives. A new study, however, has given us actual numbers, and the results are actually even more heartbreaking. Transgender and nonbinary kids are in actual danger!
Researchers at the University of Arizona conducted the study, and it was published in Pediatrics. It found that more than 50 percent of trans teen boys have attempted suicide at least once in their lives. Yes, you read that correctly: 50 percent!
To add to that, 41.8 percent of non-binary youngsters said that they’ve attempted suicide, along with 27.9 percent of teens who are unsure of their gender or questioning their sexuality.
These numbers paint a very clear picture: transgender and non-binary kids attempt suicide at much higher rates than their cisgender peers (17.6 percent for cisgender girls and 9.8 percent for cisgender boys).
Russ Toomey, the lead author of the study, says:
“Transmasculine youth, as well as nonbinary youth, really lack a sense of community or visibility,”
More than 120,000 kids aged from 11 to 19 responded to the survey, and it included 2,000 who identified as transgender, non-binary, or questioning. It provided only the numbers of kids who had attempted suicide, and not the reasons why. Experts, however, already have some ideas about that.
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, director of relations for the National Center for Transgender Equality says:
“It was exceedingly upsetting, but this is not, unfortunately, anything new to our ears. Overall what we hear from people who attempt is that they can’t deal with the stigma. What we always try and say is that there’s nothing that trans people have done — society is just so slow in accepting and it creates scenarios where people don’t feel supported and safe.”
The sobering reality is that these rates are even higher among trans kids, because the study had what she called a “survivor bias”. The people who succeeded in suicides are not factored in these numbers, as there is no real data collected in the U.S. about successful suicides among the transgender population.
The study shows that an entire population of our kids is in crisis, and we have an obligation to help them by stepping in to prevent discrimination and bullying whenever possible. We should provide kids of all gender identities and sexual orientations safe and loving places where they can live, learn and grow.
You can reach the first transgender suicide hotline in the U.S. Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the well being of transgender people, and they run a hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people.