An alarming 81% of transgender adults have considered suicide, according to a new studyfrom the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Comparatively, it found 35% of cisgender adults have considered suicide.
The first-of-its-kind study, which appeared in this month’s edition of the journal Psychiatry Research, examined the prevalence of serious drug use, psychological distress, and suicidality among a nationally representative sample of trans and cisgender adults. The study took its data from the U.S. Transgender Population Health Survey (TransPop).
The study found that 42% of trans adults have attempted suicide, compared to just 11% of cis adults. It also found that 56% of trans adults have engaged in non-suicidal self-injury, compared to 12% of cis adults.
Overall, trans people said they were significantly more likely to experience poor mental health during their lifetimes than cis people. However, 82% of trans adults said they had sought mental health treatment at some point, compared to just 47% of cis adults.
While trans and cis adults both reported similar rates of hazardous drinking and problematic drug use, trans nonbinary adults reported the highest rates of substance use.
For example, while 17% of trans women and 25% of trans men reported hazardous drinking, 45% of trans nonbinary people reported the same. While 33% of trans women and 18% of trans men reported problematic drug use, 42% of trans nonbinary people reported the same.
Trans nonbinary adults also reported more problematic drug use, more psychological distress, more suicidal ideation, and more non-suicidal self-injury than trans men, with rates of three to six times greater than that of trans men.
One of the study’s authors, Ilan H. Meyer, said, “A lack of societal recognition and acceptance of gender identities outside of the binary of cisgender man or woman and increasing politically motivated attacks on transgender individuals increase stigma and prejudice and related exposure to minority stress, which contributes to the high rates of substance use and suicidality we see among transgender people.”
Sadly, the study’s findings seem to back up a May 2023 study from The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ youth anti-suicide organization. In that study, 66% of queer youth said that anti-LGBTQ+ legislation had negatively affected their mental health, and 41% of LGBTQ+ youth in the U.S. said they’d seriously considered suicide in the last year.
Among suicidal survey respondents, those who identified as transgender, nonbinary, and/or people of color reported higher rates of suicidal ideation than their peers. Rates of anxiety and depression were, on average, 18.5% higher among trans, nonbinary, and questioning youth than among cisgender youth.
In addition to the mental distress, 64% of trans and nonbinary young people reported feeling discriminated against in the past year due to their gender identity, and 27% of trans and nonbinary young people reported being physically threatened or harmed in the past year due to their gender identity.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. The Trans Lifeline (1-877-565-8860) is staffed by trans people and will not contact law enforcement. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgment-free place to talk for youth via chat, text (678-678), or phone (1-866-488-7386). Help is available at all three resources in English and Spanish.