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New study finds 1 in 2 trans teens has attempted suicide

Trans young people attempt suicide at 20 times the rate of the general Australian population

New study finds 1 in 2 trans teens has attempted suicide
People hold the transgender pride flag at rally. | Photo: Twitter/manicsquirrel

An alarming new study has shown half of all young trans people in Australia has attempted suicide.

Trans Pathways is the largest ever survey conducted into the mental health of trans young people. It is a ground-breaking survey by the Telethon Kids Institute that produced some shocking results.

It found young people who identify as a gender that does not match the sex assigned to them at birth are at high risk for suicide. They are approximately 10 times more likely than other young Australians to experience serious depression and anxiety.

Young people aged between 14 and 25 were surveyed with almost half having attempted suicide. Almost 80% had self-harmed at some point.

‘The finding that one in every two gender-diverse young people we heard from has attempted to end their life is a sobering statistic that demonstrates the urgent need for services that are better equipped to support gender diverse young people,’ said senior researcher Dr Ashleigh Lin.

The rate of suicide attempt for trans young people was 20 times higher than the general population.

They also have higher rates of depression. But their mental health issue are not the result of their gender identity, but rather their environment.

‘However, while we know that people who are trans do have a higher frequency of mental health difficulties than the general population in Australia, it is important to emphasise that this is not because an individual identifies as trans,’ Dr Lin said.

‘Rather, these difficulties are largely caused by external factors – in other words, how the world perceives and treats trans people.

‘This was borne out by the experiences of the young people we heard from, many of whom reported they had been subjected to transphobia and bullying.’

The study also found many young people faced discrimination either at work or school. They also face a lot of personal of rejection and hostility from friends and peers.

Lead author Penelope Strauss said 22 per cent of participants had encountered unstable accommodation, including homelessness.

‘Young people told us stories of being homeless, starting with being kicked out of home by their family because of their gender, facing discrimination when trying to find a job, and finding it difficult to find housemates, which led to them couch-surfing or being homeless,’ Strauss said.

Funding and support is the solution

One of the aims of the report was to identify gaps in medical and mental health services for trans young people. It found around 42% of trans young people had reached out to a service provider. But that person did not understand, respect or have previous experience with gender diverse people.

60% of the survey participants said they had felt isolated from medical and mental health services.

‘This report provides evidence that increased funding for specialised trans health services, trans-inclusive public policies, and better education on gender diversity are all urgently needed to support trans people now and in the future,’ Dr Lin said.

‘Trans Pathways also reinforces the importance of parents and educators allowing young people to discover their identity, and supporting them through that journey.’

Needless tragedy

The survey results come as the results of coroner’s inquest into a trans teen suicide were released.

UK teen Leo Etherington took his own life in his bedroom after coming out to his family.

Need help?

If you need to access mental health support, please click on this link for a list of global contacts.

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