Nine in ten young trans adults have had suicidal thoughts, worrying study finds 

Young white person with red hair and 'protect trans kids' written on their cheek

A majority of trans and non-binary young adults have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings, new research has revealed. 

The study carried out for Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, surveyed 3,695 adults aged 18 to 25 and found that 88 per cent of trans people had experienced suicidal thoughts – far higher than other groups.

The data showed almost three quarters of LGBT+ young adults have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings, compared with 43 per cent of their straight peers.

It also revealed that LGBT+ young adults are more than twice as likely to have self-harmed (65 per cent) than the non-LGBT+ young adults (31 per cent) who were also surveyed. 

Within the LGBTQ+ community, trans and non-binary young adults were the most likely to have hurt themselves deliberately (76 per cent and 78 per cent respectively). Eighty-three per cent of non-binary young adults reported having experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings. 

Trans young people most likely have self-harmed

Amy Ashenden, the interim chief executive of Just Like Us, wasn’t surprised by the results, given the toxic environment faced by queer youth.  

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“We know that young LGBT+ adults face disproportionate challenges because of their identities, whether that is bullying at school or work, difficult family relationships, or violence and abuse,” she said. 

“It is no surprise that living in a society that often fails to support LGBT+ young people, and can even be actively anti-LGBT+, takes a toll on their mental and physical health.” 

The research was carried out independently by Cibyl in January and forms part of a wider report entitled Positive Futures, which is due to be released by Just Like Us on 1 June.

The in-depth report will examine the experiences of young LGBT+ adults in the UK. It is set to address topics such as wellbeing, home life and experiences in school and at work, as well as taking into account intersections such as faith, race and disability. 

Alongside information relating to mental health, the research found that queer young adults are more likely to drink alcohol regularly. 

Twenty per cent of LGBT+ young adults said they drink at least two or three times per week, compared with 14 per cent of their straight counterparts.

Ashenden added: “If we can improve the experiences of LGBT+ young people when they are growing up, this will have a positive impact on the health challenges they face as adults, and we will look at this link in our full Positive Futures report. 

“This begins at home and at school, which should both be safe and welcoming places for LGBT+ young people.”

Continued attacks on the trans community

The research comes amid increasing attacks on the trans community, both in the UK and around the world.

The Conservative government is currently reviewing its relationships, sex, health and education (RSHE) statutory guidance and is set to release guidelines specifically with regard to trans pupils in schools in the summer.

The guidelines – spearheaded by education secretary Gillian Keegan and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch – could see teachers forced to out trans pupils to their parents, in what has been described as a dangerous move by school staff.

Leaked details suggest that schools would use “triggers” – including a pupil changing their name or pronouns, or a “boy wearing a skirt” – to decide on outing pupils.

Rishi Sunak’s government is also examining whether to update the definition of “sex” under the 2010 Equality Act, to mean “biological sex”.

In April, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued a response to Badenoch querying clarification on “sex”, advising the minister that changing the definition would offer “greater legal clarity”.

The response was condemned by trans rights activists and by those from wider LGBTQ+ communities, who expressed grave concern at what the change could mean for daily lives.

Minutes from an EHRC committee meeting subsequently showed internal conflict at the equality watchdog over the issue, with members admitting such a change could “diminish” trans people’s rights.

As the changes are discussed, both Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer are continually being quizzed on “what a woman is” as trans rights look set to be a key battleground at the next general election.

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 America can contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by texting 988 (988lifeline.org).