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    Suicide Statistics in the Transgender Community
    Suicide Statistics in the Transgender Community
    Trigger Warning

    This page will talk about sensitive topics involving suicide and the mental health of transgender people. Other topics may include violence, sexual assault, ; as well as showcase how these statistics and information can be abused. 

    Please read at your own risk.

    Suicide Statistics in the Transgender Community

    The 41% Statistic

    There is a statistic that is commonly used against the trans community,

    “40% of transgender people commit suicide.”

    The following memes are some examples of how this percentage has been abused. 

    While the percentage itself is correct, the exact reasoning and wording of the claim, is wrong. 

    The 40% statistic comes from a 2014 survey done by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Williams Institute UCLA School of Law

    The statistic actually states:

    “The prevalence of suicide attempts among respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, is 41 percent, which vastly  exceeds the 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population who report a lifetime suicide attempt, and is also higher than the 10-20 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults who report ever
    attempting suicide.

    The key word is “attempted suicide” not “die by suicide” or “kill themselves.” This distinction is important as the trans population would be incredibly tiny to non-existent if every year 41% of the trans community died. 

    Why is the attempted suicide rate so high?

    There are multiple factors that may effect someone’s mental health, causing them contemplate and/or attempt suicide. Some of those factors may include

    • Housing problems:
      1. Being evicted because they are trans
      2. Refused a house/apartment because they are trans
      3. Refused a homeless shelter because they are trans
      4. Forced to move back with family because they are trans
      5. Kicked out of home because they were trans
      6. Became homeless because they are trans
    • Medical problems:
      1. Learning disabilities
      2. Physical disabilities
      3. Physical disabilities that prevent one from transitioning
      4. Mental disabilities
      5. Mental disabilities that prevent one from transitioning
      6. Illnesses/diseases that prevent one from transitioning
      7. Refused general medical treatment because they are trans
      8. Denied a psychologist because they are trans
      9. Denied a Primary Care Doctor because they are trans
      10. Pharmacy refused to fill HRT prescriptions
      11. Could not afford medical care
      12. Could not afford medical care because they do not have a job because they are trans.
    • Work problems:
      1. Losing job because they are trans
      2. Getting demoted/refused promotion because they are trans
      3. Lost hours because they are trans
      4. Didn’t get hired because they are trans
      5. Being harassed or bullied because they are trans
      6. Being physically assaulted because they are trans
      7. Being sexually assaulted because they are trans
      8. Forced to use the bathroom/locker room they don’t identify with
      9. Forced to go by their birth name
      10. Forced to go by pronouns they don’t identify with
      11. Forced to wear clothes/uniform that is stereotypically worn by a gender they don’t identify with.
    • School problems:
      1. Being harassed or bullied because they are trans
      2. Being physically assaulted because they are trans
      3. Being sexually assaulted because they are trans
      4. Forced to use the bathroom/locker room they don’t identify with
      5. Forced to go by their birth name
      6. Forced to go by pronouns they don’t identify with
      7. Forced to wear clothes/uniform that is stereotypically worn by a gender they don’t identify with.
      8. Expelled from school because they are trans
    • Family problems:
      1. Being harassed or bullied because they are trans
      2. Being physically assaulted because they are trans
      3. Being sexually assaulted because they are trans
      4. Forced to go by their birth name
      5. Forced to go by pronouns they don’t identify with
      6. Forced to wear clothes that is stereotypically worn by a gender they don’t identify with.
      7. Kicked out of the house because they are trans
      8. Taken out of school because they are trans
      9. Got divorced because they are trans
      10. Lost custody of kids because they are trans
      11. Denied adoption because they are trans
    • Public Accommodation problems:
      1. Being refused service in a store, restaurant, or other public place because they are trans
      2. Being harassed in a store, restaurant, or other public place because they are trans
      3. Being physically assaulted in a store, restaurant, or other public place because they are trans.
    • Law Enforcement Problems:
      1. Harassed by Police because they are trans
      2. Physically assaulted by police because they are trans
      3. Sexually assaulted by police because they are trans
      4. Wrongfully accused of a crime because they are trans
      5. Police report was not taken seriously because they are trans

    The more discrimination and harassment one may get due to a characteristic out of their control, the more likely their mental health will decline and continue until the mistreatment stops. Many transgender people have experienced most or all of the problems and struggles listed above.

    About the survey

    6,450 people over the age of 18 who identified as transgender were surveyed

    18-24: 19%  
    25-44: 52%  
    45-54: 17%  
    55-64: 11%  
    65+:  2%

    American Indian or Alaska Native Alone: 1% 
    Asian or Pacific Islander Alone: 2%
    Black or African American Alone: 5% 
    Hispanic or Latino Alone: 5% 
    White Alone: 76% 
    Multiracial or Mixed Race/Ethnicity: 11% 

    Housing

    “Relative to the prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts reported by NTDS respondents as a whole (41%), those who reported experiencing housing discrimination or other housing-related problems because of anti-transgender bias were found to have an elevated prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts.

    The highest suicide attempt prevalence 69% was found among those who became homeless due to anti-transgender bias”

    Work

    “An elevated prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts was consistently found among respondents who reported negative work experiences related to anti-transgender bias.

    Prevalence was found to be especially high among those who said they had experienced work-based
    physical violence (65%) 

    sexual assault (64%).

    In addition, respondents who indicated having engaged in sex work reported a high prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts.”

    Medical

    “Respondents who reported having negative experiences related to obtaining medical care as a transgender or gender non-conforming person also reported an elevated prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts.

    60% of respondents who said they had been refused medical care because of anti-transgender bias reported a lifetime suicide attempt. (*Note: this is general health care. Not transitional care).

    Respondents who indicated having a disability (physical, learning, mental health) that substantially affects a major life activity reported a higher prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts than those without a disability

    Among respondents who indicated having a mental health disability, at least 54% of respondents in each of the six main gender identity categories reported a lifetime suicide attempt.

     In all gender identity categories, respondents who did not indicate having a mental health disability were found to have significantly lower prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts than those in the same category who had such a disability

    Among those who did not indicate having a mental health disability, the prevalence of suicide attempts ranged from a high of 40 percent among trans men (FTM) and female-assigned cross-dressers, to a low of 17 percent among male-assigned cross-dressers.”

    School

    “A higher than average prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts was consistently found among NTDS respondents who reported that they had been harassed, bullied, or assaulted in school by other students and/ or teachers due to anti-transgender bias.

    Among such respondents, suicide attempt prevalence varied little according to the level of school at which the victimization occurred.

    Consistently, suicide attempts were most frequently reported by those who had experienced school-based violence in the form of physical or sexual assault”

    Family

    A lower than average prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts (33%) was found among respondents who said their family relationships had remained strong after coming out.

    In contrast, the prevalence of suicide attempts was elevated among respondents who reported experiencing rejection, disruption, or abuse by family members or close friends because of anti-transgender bias.

    Again, lifetime suicide attempts were reported most frequently by those who were victims of violence by a family member, with 65% of such respondents indicating having attempted suicide.”

    Public Accomodations

    “Places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, public transportation, retail stores, hotels, and government agencies (DMV, Social Security Office) can be places of vulnerability for transgender people.

    In a prior analysis, nearly one-third of USTS respondents reported being denied equal treatment or service, verbally harassed, or physically assaulted in a place of public accommodation in the past year.

    20% of USTS respondents had avoided places of public accommodation in the past year to avoid mistreatment.

    As shown in Table 14, the present analysis shows that having negative experiences in places of public accommodation in the past year, or avoiding these places all together, is associated with a higher prevalence of suicide thoughts and attempts compared to respondents who did not have these experiences in the past year. 

    Over 30% of those who were physically attacked in a place of public accommodation reported attempting suicide in the past year, which is over four times higher than the prevalence found among respondents who were not similarly
    attacked.

    Experiences in public restrooms reveal a similar pattern, with respondents who were denied access to restrooms, or harassed, physically attacked, or sexually assaulted in restrooms during the past year reporting more past-year suicide thoughts and attempts than those who did not have these experiences. 

    Those who completely avoided using public restrooms in the past year had much higher prevalence of past-year suicide thoughts and attempts than those who did not avoid restrooms or only sometimes avoided them.”

    Law Enforcement

    Respondents who reported having negative experiences with law enforcement officers commonly reported having attempted suicide. An especially high prevalence of lifetime suicide attempts was found among those who had experienced police violence in the form of physical or sexual assault.

    Lifetime suicide attempts were less prevalent among respondents who said they had been generally treated with respect by law enforcement personnel.

    Decreasing level of comfort in seeking help from the police was found to be significantly related to higher prevalence of lifetime suicide

    Herman, Jody L, et al. “Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults.” Williamsinstitute, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, Jan. 2014,
    williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Trans-GNC-Suicide-Attempts-Jan-2014.pdf.

    Herman, Jody L. Https://Williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/, The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, Sept. 2019, williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Suicidality-Transgender-Sep-2019.pdf.

    Growing anti-transgender violence across the United States is also a factor in a trans person’s mental health

    Is supporting trans people beneficial for their mental health?

    Some may see certain spikes while getting gender affirming treatment and use that to justify preventing hormones and surgeries to trans people. 

     

    For example, in table 4. above, those who were taking hormones reported higher suicide attempts and thoughts compared to those who are not currently taking hormones, for both within the last 12 months, and lifetime.

    However, that does NOT mean allowing medical transitioning harms their mental health.

    Many trans people may face more discrimination and harassment while starting their medical transition. This can be due to physical changes the public is witnessing, especially within the first year of HRT. One has not had time to legally transition at this point, making it more obvious the person is trans, compared to a trans person who has been on hormones for multiples years and completed their legal transition.

     

    • Respondents with supportive families reported lower prevalence of past-year and lifetime suicide thoughts and attempts.

    • Those who wanted, and subsequently received, hormone therapy and/or surgical care had substantially lower prevalence of past-year suicide thoughts and attempts than those who wanted hormone therapy and surgical care and did not receive them.

    • A lower proportion of respondents who lived in a state with a gender identity nondiscrimination statute reported past-year suicide thoughts and attempts than those who lived in states without such a statute.

    Herman, Jody L, et al. “Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults.” Williamsinstitute, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, Jan. 2014,
    williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Trans-GNC-Suicide-Attempts-Jan-2014.pdf.

    Herman, Jody L. Https://Williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/, The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, Sept. 2019, williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Suicidality-Transgender-Sep-2019.pdf.

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