Suicidal Thoughts More Common Among Transgender Students

Rear view of teen sitting on stairsTransgender students are significantly more likely than their peers to experience suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The study, which relied on data from California students, found nearly 35% of California transgender students had contemplated suicide.

A 2016 study arrived at a similar conclusion, finding high rates of suicide and self-harm among transgender youth.

Suicidal Thoughts Among Transgender Students

The study analyzed statewide data on more than 910,000 high schoolers who participated in either the 2013-2015 California Healthy Kids Survey or a weighted subsample of the Biennial Statewide California Student Survey.

The surveys asked students about suicidal thoughts during the previous 12 months. Cisgender youth reported suicidal thoughts at a rate of 18.85%. Suicidal thoughts were nearly twice as prominent for transgender youth (33.75%). Depression and victimization, which were more common among transgender youth, were significant predictors of suicidal thoughts.

Anti-Transgender Discrimination and Bullying at School

Transgender children and youth often face a climate of severe discrimination at school. Research published in 2015 suggests rejection and bullying drive transgender suicide.

A British girls’ school recently came under fire when it refused to address a transgender child by his name—even after he took his own life. The child was 15 when he died by suicide. His father said the boy was angry that teachers refused to acknowledge his gender or call him by his name. In a statement lamenting his suicide, the school headmaster referred to the boy by his former name.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration, under the guidance of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, rolled back Obama-era protections for transgender students. The old guidelines required schools to treat students according to their gender identity. This rendered misgendering a form of discrimination, and allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

Under the new guidelines, transgender students can be forced to use the bathroom schools deem appropriate. Schools may freely misgender students without fear of intervention by the federal government. Some states, including California, still offer legal protections for transgender students.

References:

  1. Even after trans teen’s suicide, school refuses to recognize his gender. (2017, September 1). Retrieved from https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2017/9/01/even-after-trans-teens-suicide-school-refuses-recognize-his-gender
  2. Perez-Brumer, A., Day, J. K., Russell, S. T., & Hatzenbuehler, M. L. (2017). Prevalence and correlates of suicidal ideation among transgender youth in California: Findings from a representative, population-based sample of high school students. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 56(9), 739-746. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2017.06.010
  3. Peters, J. W., Becker, J., & Davis, J. H. (2017, February 22). Trump rescinds rules on bathrooms for transgender students. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/us/politics/devos-sessions-transgender-students-rights.html
  4. Study documents higher risk of suicidal thoughts among transgender students. (2017, September 5). Retrieved from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20170905/Study-documents-higher-risk-of-suicidal-thoughts-among-transgender-students.aspx

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  • 3 comments
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  • Sawyer

    Sawyer

    September 22nd, 2017 at 2:19 PM

    Because they are too often made to feel alone and isolated!

  • DeeDee

    DeeDee

    September 23rd, 2017 at 9:02 AM

    Especially at this age, teenage years, you are more likely to feel alone and ostracized even when you fit into the conformity box.
    So when you are a little different than other students, then yes, there is a greater likelihood that you could have these thoughts.
    People are afraid of the things that they do not understand and many times they take this out as anger against those who do not meet their expectations of what traditional roles should be.
    And as a result we definitely know who suffers.

  • Nena

    Nena

    September 24th, 2017 at 6:48 PM

    Being a teenager is stressful enough. They are constantly seeking for acceptance, of belonging. It’s sad that peer pressure and bullying have reached social media too. My heart goes to young transgenders because the pressure, stress, and anxiety are doubly felt. I have a transgender nephew, 18. He lives with us because he didn’t want to go to the university near his mom’s house. He doesn’t want to see his high school peers who were constantly talking behind his back about his sexual orientation. He became depressed. That’s why we asked him to move with us. He’s now enrolled in a more progressive university where the population is more liberal and smarter. He also learned how to handle cyberbullying by getting rid of “friends” who give him negative vibe. He’s happier, healthier and more confident.
    Your readers may want to read this article about signs of bullying, too. Here’s the link: parentingmonkey.com/signs-being-bullied

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