According to a recent study conducted by Rylan J. Testa of the Center for LGBTQ Evidence-based Applied Research in Palo Alto, California, two out of every three transgender individuals surveyed have contemplated suicide. To put that in perspective, suicide ideation rates range from 6% to 12% in the general population. Transgender (trans) individuals are more likely to be victims of physical violence and sexual assault than nontransgender peers. Many transgender people have experienced significant discrimination and prejudice. Research also has shown that transgender individuals are more likely to engage in negative coping strategies to deal with stressors; rates of drug and alcohol use and other potentially harmful behaviors are elevated among the transgender population.
Testa wanted to determine how physical violence and sexual violence affected transgender men and women independently. He sought to measure the influence of various types of violence on drug use, alcohol use, and suicidal ideation and attempts in a sample of 179 transgender women and 92 transgender men. The participants were part of a larger study, the Virginia Transgender Health Initiative Survey, designed to identify any health concerns that may be associated with the transgender lifestyle — in particular, HIV prevalence and treatment.
After reviewing data from both groups of transgender participants, Testa found that sexual and physical violence directly correlated with suicide attempts and ideation in transgender men and women. Additionally, transgender men who had experienced either form of violence had higher rates of alcohol misuse, while the women who had been victims of sexual violence had increases in alcohol and drug abuse. Testa also reported that more than half of participants reported being victims of some form of violence. “Furthermore, an alarming 26.3% of trans women and 30.4% of trans men reported a history of suicide attempts,” Testa said. He also found that fewer than 10% of the victims of violence reported their attacks because they were afraid of retaliation by their attacker or the police to whom they reported the crime. Clearly, tolerance, acceptance, and non-violence are social obligations that need dramatic expansion to support the health and well-being of transgender people.
Testa, R. J., Sciacca, L. M., Wang, F., Hendricks, M. L., Goldblum, P., Bradford, J., Bongar, B. (2012). Effects of Violence on Transgender People. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029604
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.