Transgender students are more likely than their cisgender counterparts to attempt suicide, experiment with drugs and alcohol, experience bullying and be forced to have sex, according to an alarming new study by the Centers for Disease Control.
A full 35 percent of trans students reported attempting suicide at some time in the previous 12 months, the study said.
The study, conducted in 2017 and released Thursday by the CDC, included over 125,000 respondents in grades 9 through 12 in 10 states and nine major school districts (Boston, Broward County (Miami), Cleveland, Detroit, District of Columbia, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego and San Francisco).
“Transgender students were more likely than were cisgender students to report violence victimization, substance use, and suicide risk, and, although generally more likely to report sexual risk behaviors, were also more likely to report having been tested for human immunodeficiency virus,” the CDC’s conclusion from its study said.
Of the respondents, 1.8 percent answered “Yes, I am transgender,” while 94.4 percent said, “No, I am not transgender.” Another 1.6 percent answered, “I am not sure if I am transgender.” The figure of almost 2 percent is noticeably higher than a June 2016 study by The Williams Institute at UCLA, which found 0.6 percent of U.S. adults identified as trans.
In about every category, the students who responded they were trans reported higher incidents of alarming behavior — both by them and against them.
“The CDC’s new groundbreaking report shows that transgender youth exist in much greater numbers than researchers previously estimated,” Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, said in a statement. “By collecting data inclusive of gender identity, the report shows the very real health risks faced by transgender and gender non-conforming youth. The CDC’s findings highlight the need for even more policies to protect transgender and gender nonconforming youth, as well as additional support for LGBTQ-affirming organizations like The Trevor Project.”
The violence victimization categories of the study show significantly higher percentages for trans students, including 26.9 percent who felt unsafe traveling to or from school versus 4.6 percent of cis males and 7.1 percent of cis females. Also, 23.8 percent of trans students said they were forced to have sex, while 4.2 percent of cis males and 10.5 percent of cis females said the same.
Trans students also showed significantly higher usage percentages of cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, inhalants and prescription opioids. Alcohol and marijuana use were also higher, though not as markedly.
Some of the most distressing numbers for the study came in relation to suicide. The study showed that 34.6 percent of trans students had attempted suicide, almost 30 percentage points higher than cis males and 25 percent higher than cis females.
The researchers suggest a few steps to improve the concerning numbers, including creating “safe learning environments” and providing “access to culturally competent physical and mental health care.”
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