Bullying, Rejection May Be Factors in Transgender Suicide Rate

Boy getting bullied in alleyway by other boyCaitlyn Jenner’s recent transition, made public with her Vanity Fair cover and I Am Cait—a reality show that chronicles her life after coming out as transgender—have drawn public attention to transgender issues. The warm welcome Caitlyn received from many celebrities and political organizations might even create an illusion of support for all transgender people.

Figures from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute reflect a different reality. According to a study by the two organizations, 41% of trans-identified people attempt suicide at some point in their lives, compared to just 4.6% of the general population. The study analyzed results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which was the largest study to explore the experiences and lives of transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the United States. The National Center for Transgender Equality will launch the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey on August 19.

What Is Behind the Transgender Suicide Rate?

High-profile transgender suicides continue to bring attention to the issue. Late last year, 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn walked into oncoming traffic to end her life. Her suicide note suggested that anti-transgender discrimination and forced conversion therapy played a role in her decision. Another transgender youth, M.C. Lampe, became unable to tolerate relentless bullying from peers and attempted suicide in the ninth grade. Lampe survived and was able to receive quality psychiatric care.

Bullying can often push transgender children and teens to attempt suicide. A 2011 National Center of Transgender Equality study found that 82% of transgender youth report feeling unsafe at school, with 44% experiencing physical abuse, 64% experiencing theft of their possessions, and 67% facing online bullying.

For many transgender people, bullying is only the beginning. In 2011, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 12% of transgender youth had been sexually assaulted in school by peers or faculty, and 22% of transgender people who reported being homeless faced assault while staying in shelters.

Promoting Transgender Acceptance

Experts consistently agree that rejection from parents and peers is a significant factor in the high transgender suicide rate. Parents and loved ones of transgender individuals can show their support by accepting a person’s stated identity, avoiding transgender stereotypes, and using a person’s chosen name and correct pronouns.


  1. Herskovitz, J. (2014, December 31). Suicide note of transgender Ohio teen inspires call to help others. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/31/us-usa-ohio-transgender-idUSKBN0K918W20141231
  2. Responding to transgender victims of sexual assault: the numbers. (2014, June). Retrieved from http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/forge/sexual_numbers.html
  3. Transgender bullying: A national epidemic. (2014, July 13). Retrieved from http://nobullying.com/transgender-bullying/
  4. Ungar, L. (2015, August 16). Transgender people face alarmingly high risk of suicide. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/08/16/transgender-individuals-face-high-rates–suicide-attempts/31626633/

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  • Beatrice

    August 18th, 2015 at 3:06 PM

    I suppose that it could have maybe a greater impact on the transgender community, but my feeling is that anyone who constantly feels either ostracized and shamed or even bullied is going to have a greater likelihood of committing suicide than those who feel accepted and included. There are multiple reasons why someone would choose to end his or her own life, but I know for a fact that if you don’t feel love and acceptance from your peers then there is going to be a far greater chance that you could consider this to be a possibility.

  • Nicholas

    August 19th, 2015 at 1:18 PM

    I will start by saying that as a parent I don’t think that there is anything that my child could ever say or do that would cause me to reject them in this manner. If I thought that they were doing something dangerous in their lives then I would try to get them some help, but I don’t think that anything out there would ever force me to cut them out of my life. That pain of no longer having them be a part of my life would be too much pain for me.

  • Sam

    August 20th, 2015 at 8:44 AM

    You can somewhat control what happens within your house but what about what other people say and do? What do you do about that?

  • Morgan

    August 22nd, 2015 at 8:08 AM

    The fact that there are more and more people who are identifying in this way says to me that we have seriously got to open our eyes to the challenges that people within this demographic are facing. It is no longer going to be enough to say that oh yeah this is happening and what a shame. We have to get focused on stopping this kind of behavior and abuse, because there are going to be a lot of very good people who end up hurt if we don’t stop the violence toward them now.

  • laken

    August 24th, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    If I think back to my teen years and think about the times when I felt that someone was picking on me or that I did not fit in with the in crowd, then I also think about how fortunate that I really was to just have gad typical teen angst. We have to understand that not only are trans gendered kids feeling this but this is being compounded with them because they know that they are different and the other kids know that too. For whatever reason we seem to pick out those who are the least able to stand up for themselves and these are the kids who time and again get picked on and bullied. It has to stop, I think that we all know that, but I am just not sure how to do that.

  • Lily

    September 2nd, 2015 at 5:55 PM

    Breaking News: Being Told That You’re Identity Isn’t Real And That You’re Messed In The Head Leads To Suicide!!!

    No one is surprised.

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