Home Posts Creating Gender-Affirming Environments Literally Saves The Lives Of LGBTQ Children
Creating Gender-Affirming Environments Literally Saves The Lives Of LGBTQ Children
Queer Voices

Creating Gender-Affirming Environments Literally Saves The Lives Of LGBTQ Children

According to a new survey released Wednesday by The Trevor Project, using the preferred pronouns of a transgender or nonbinary child can literally save their life.

The organization, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to LGBTQ youth, discovered that when adults use their preferred pronouns and children can change their gender marker on identification documents, trans and nonbinary children attempt suicide at much lower rates.

Trans and nonbinary youth who reported having their preferred pronouns respected by the people they lived with attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their preferred pronouns respected, according to The Trevor Project.

Unfortunately, more than 60% of transgender youth under the age of 18 reported that no one respected their pronouns.

Over 40% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the previous year, but more than half reported being unable to obtain the necessary mental health care.

Nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 from across the United States participated in The Trevor Project's third annual national survey on LGBTQ youth mental health, which examines data such as suicide risk factors, mental health care, and the effects of COVID-19 on LGBTQ mental health in the previous year.

According to The Trevor Project's research, 94% of queer youth reported that recent politics had negatively impacted their mental health in the previous year, and 75% reported having experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lives. LGBTQ kids who experienced discrimination in the previous year were twice as likely to attempt suicide as the general population.

This year's mental health survey has the most diverse pool of respondents since the Trevor Project began polling LGBTQ youth in 2019. Overall, 45% of respondents were LGBTQ youth of color, 38% were transgender or nonbinary, and half of all LGBTQ kids of color reported experiencing discrimination based on their race or ethnicity in the previous year.

The new data comes as dozens of states pass anti-LGBTQ legislation aimed at barring transgender children from school sports and criminalizing parents who provide gender-affirming care.

Many of the laws contradict the recommendations of some of the country's most respected medical organizations. Dr. Amy Green, vice president of research at The Trevor Project, is concerned not only about how this legislation will affect LGBTQ youth, but also about the message it sends to queer kids everywhere.

“We’re seeing policies that are working to consistently take away the ability of trans and nonbinary youth to be affirmed in their identity and to live their lives authentically,” Green told Stardia. “The legal initiatives are harmful in terms of what they’ll prohibit, but they’re also harmful in terms of the rhetoric that trans and nonbinary youth are hearing about themselves on a national level.”

The Trevor Project discovered that only one in every three LGBTQ youth said their home was LGBTQ-affirming, which means that many kids were forced to return to the closet when they began remote learning due to COVID-19. That number was even higher for trans and nonbinary kids: sixty percent said the pandemic affected their ability to freely express themselves.

“It feels like I lost a part of myself that I had just discovered,” a gay, gender-fluid college freshman told Stardia during pandemic-related stay-at-home orders last May. “It’s a lot harder to try to figure out who you are when you can’t really experiment with anything.”

We are witnessing policies that work to consistently deprive trans and nonbinary youth of the ability to be affirmed in their identity and live authentically.

Amy Green, The Trevor Project's vice president of research

Some LGBTQ youth, whether in high school or college, are also missing out on critical mental health services that they could access on campus but no longer have at home.

Another college student told Stardia in May that she felt like her life was on hold while remote learning because her family, while aware of her sexuality, refused to acknowledge it. “I think it’s only harder for LGBTQ students because they often have a taste of freedom at college, while it’s the exact opposite at home,” she said.

According to The Trevor Project's survey, 7 in 10 LGBTQ youth have access to online spaces that affirm their sexual orientation and/or gender identity; however, the mental health impacts of social media were mixed: 96% of respondents said that social media has a positive impact on their well-being, but 88% said that it has a negative impact.

Green hopes that readers will recognize the scope of the LGBTQ youth suicide problem and recognize that the risks are exacerbated for LGBTQ kids of color, trans and nonbinary youth, and other marginalized groups.

“After that, I want people to understand that these issues are not related to something inherent in being LGBTQ; they are related to how LGBTQ youth are treated,” she said. “The solution to lowering that risk is to find ways to stop the horrible treatment of LGBTQ youth and to increase support and affirmation.”

If you or someone you know needs assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. If you live outside of the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a resource database.

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