Suicide prevention groups urge cruel lawmakers to stop attacking vulnerable trans kids

Protect trans kids sign

Two suicide prevention groups in the United States have pleaded with lawmakers to row back on plans to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth.

Arkansas became the first US state to ban healthcare professionals from prescribing puberty blockers and hormones to trans minors in March, despite firm opposition from medical organisations. Similar bills are currently making their way through the legislatures in Texas and Alabama.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and LGBT+ suicide prevention charity The Trevor Project have teamed up to implore lawmakers to back away from the dehumanising bans, warning that they will have dire consequences for trans youth.

In a joint statement, the AFSP and The Trevor Project asked lawmakers to “seriously consider the mental health impacts of legislation that seeks to restrict transgender and non-binary young people’s access to medically necessary, gender-affirming care, which can be life-saving.”

The groups wrote: “Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults and we know transgender and non-binary youth are more likely to attempt suicide than their cisgender peers.

“However, we also know that trans youth are not prone to suicide simply because of their gender identity. Increased experiences of victimisation and discriminatory policies contribute to higher risk for anxiety, depression, and attempting suicide among trans youth.”

Suicide prevention groups call for greater access to treatment for trans minors

The AFSP and The Trevor Project pointed out that gender-affirming care is vital for reducing suicidal ideation among trans youth.

“Medical providers have derived these standards of care from decades of scientific research and on-the-ground experience, and that’s why they’re endorsed by every major medical association,” the suicide prevention charities said.

Both groups called for further research into suicide risk among trans youth and called for “evidence-based treatments” that work to be made more accessible to trans minors.

“To support and protect trans youth, legislators and others with decision-making power need to improve access to best-practice medical care for trans patients and their families, including mental health care,” the groups added.

The intervention from the AFSP and The Trevor Project comes just days after Dr Michele Hutchison, who runs the Gender Spectrum Clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, reported a spike in the number of trans teenagers attempting suicide after lawmakers pushed through its ban on trans healthcare.

Hutchison told the Associated Press: “My families are in a state of panic, asking what state they should move to, saying their child is threatening to kill themselves.

“They want to know what they should do next, and we don’t have a clear answer for them.”

If you are struggling with your mental health and are based in the US, you can contact The Trevor Project Lifeline for free on 1-866-488-7386 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

In the UK, you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 (open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or call the LGBT Foundation helpline on 0345 3 30 30 30 (open Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm).