A quarter of young Black trans people have attempted death by suicide, eye-opening study finds

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A quarter of young Black trans and non-binary people in the US have attempted suicide, new research has found.

The newly-published research from LGBTQ+ support group The Trevor Project surveyed 34,000 LGBTQ+ people aged between 13 and 24 in the US, and found Black trans and non-binary people were more likely to suffer from mental health issues than any other part of the queer community.

The study found that an average of one in every four non-binary and transgender Black respondents had reported a suicide attempt in the past year. Additionally, Black trans youth had “indicators” of poor mental health compared with their cisgender Black peers.

Among Black trans young people, those assigned female at birth reported higher rates of considering, and attempting, suicide in the past year compared with those assigned male at birth.

The findings showed that trans and non-binary youth suffered higher rates of depression and anxiety than their cisgender counterparts.

‘Mental health of Black trans youth is a public health crisis’

The research also revealed that Black trans and non-binary youth experience homelessness, violence and discrimination at extremely high rates.

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Of the Black trans youth surveyed, 77 per cent said they’d experienced discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, while 40 per cent reported being physically threatened or harmed due to their identity and sexuality – almost double the amount of Black cisgender LGBQ youth surveyed.

And 34 per cent of Black transgender and non-binary young people experienced homelessness, either being kicked out, or running away from home, compared with 24 per cent of Black cisgender LGBQ young people.

The research also showed 68 per cent of Black transgender and non-binary young people experienced having someone attempt to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. Parents accounted for close to half of the cases. For Black cisgender respondents, the figure was 49 per cent.

“Simply put, the mental health of Black transgender and non-binary young people is a public health crisis,” said senior director of research science at The Trevor Project, Dr Myeshia Price.

“Immediate steps must be taken by educators, youth-serving adults and mental health professionals to ensure that Black trans and non-binary young people feel seen, supported and protected against a world that so often brings them harm.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among Black youth in America have risen faster than any other ethnic group – increasing by 37 per cent between 2018 and 2021.

Authors of the survey reported that social support being made available could reduce the damning statistics.

“Black families should be encouraged to support their transgender and non-binary young people by interweaving overtly supportive messages around gender identity into their existing family support structure,” they said.

“They should also be provided with the necessary structural and educational resources to empower them to show up as best they can for the young LGBTQ people in their lives.”

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 the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

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