More than half of trans and non-binary youth considered suicide in the past year, study finds

An image showing a person holding a transgender flag against a pale pink wall. The picture does not show the person's face

A new study has laid bare the devastating impact of anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry, mistreatment and poor access to mental health care on trans and non-binary young people.

The study, published by LGBTQ+ mental health charity The Trevor Project, surveyed nearly 34,000 queer and trans young people in the US, aged 13 to 24, finding an alarmingly high level of depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts.

More than 50 per cent had considered suicide in the past year, research found.

The study comes as the Washington Post reported that more than 150 bills that restrict the lives of trans people were filed in 2022, the highest number in American history.

For trans and non-binary youth, the states with the highest levels of suicidal ideation included Texas (56 per cent), Florida (54 per cent), and Georgia (55 per cent), which have all passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

However, poor mental health outcomes were found in more progressive states, too. In California, one of the country’s most liberal states, 44 per cent of LGBTQ+ youth have considered suicide, with the number rising to 54 per cent for trans and non-binary respondents. 

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A not insignificant number of respondents (five to 10 per cent) also said they had been subjected to cruel conversion therapy practices. 

Carrie Davis, chief community officer at The Trevor Project, said in a statement: “For years, The Trevor Project’s research has worked to increase our understanding of the mental health challenges and suicide risk faced by LGBTQ young people across the United States.  

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“Especially as we anticipate another record wave of anti-LGBTQ bills in 2023, these findings underscore the disparities in access to mental health care and systems of support among LGBTQ youth, a group consistently found to be at significantly increased risk for suicide due to the anti-LGBTQ victimisation they face, and how they are mistreated in society at large. 

“We hope that fellow researchers, lawmakers, youth-serving professionals and allies in every state will use these data to uplift LGBTQ young people and advocate for policies that celebrate and support them – not isolate them further.”

Anti-trans bills have been rife across the United States in 2022, with Florida moving to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth, while Texas came under fire for suggesting gender-affirming care for trans young people was “child abuse”.

Trans youth across the country have also been banned from playing on the sports team that matches their gender identity in several states including Texas, Florida, and Alabama.

In part due to this wave of transphobic laws, more than 80 per cent of LGBTQ+ students across the United States reported feeling unsafe at school in the last year, a survey found.

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact theNational Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

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