86% of transgender and nonbinary youth say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.
March 8, 2023 — The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people, opposes H.R. 734, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would effectively ban transgender women and girls from playing sports, and limit opportunities for for intersex and nonbinary athletes as well. The bill is being marked up today by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Statement from Casey Pick (she/her pronouns), Director of Law & Policy for The Trevor Project:
“Transgender young people are placed at greater risk for depression and suicidality than their peers, not because of their gender identity, but because of increased experiences of bullying, rejection, and discrimination. According to The Trevor Project’s 2022 U.S. National Survey, nearly half of transgender women and girls reported seriously considering suicide in the past year, and 12% attempted suicide. To confront this public health crisis, we must combat stigma, advance trans-inclusive policies and practices, and work to increase access to support systems that help transgender young people build a sense of belonging.
“A blanket ban on transgender women and girls from playing sports would not only be unfair and unnecessary, but it would also deny them yet another potential source of connectedness, stress relief, and joy. Transgender young people deserve to have the same opportunities as their peers, and like all young people, they can only thrive when treated with dignity and respect.
“We understand that this can seem like a complicated issue for people who’ve never met a transgender person. But the impact of exclusion and discrimination on our young people is clear and dire. Local schools and athletic associations have already been successfully managing programs that balance fairness with inclusion for years. We urge lawmakers to listen to the subject matter experts, and the trans athletes and families who would be impacted, before rushing to create overreaching government mandates that harm young people and help no one.”
Research & Polling:
- The Trevor Project’s research has found that 77% of transgender women and girls reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their gender identity. And young people who experienced this type of discrimination reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not.
- A September 2021 research brief on LGBTQ Youth Sports Participation found that only 32% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had ever participated in sports for a school or community league or club, compared to 68% who never participated.
- One LGBTQ young person in the survey reported, “I never hated sports, but I hated how I was treated by kids and adults who played sports. The locker room was always a nightmare, the athletic kids at my school hated me, the coaches at my school hated me, and as much as I didn’t care for a lot of mainstream sports in general, I avoided athletic activities out of terror, not disinterest.”
- Another explained, “I probably wouldn’t be allowed onto the boys’ team because I’m a trans boy (both parents and school won’t allow this), and even if I was allowed I’d be at a huge risk of bullying.”
- Further, a 2022 peer-reviewed study found that many transgender high school girls who reported an interest in playing sports cited concerns around harassment, stigma, and gendered spaces.
- The Trevor Project’s research also consistently demonstrates that transgender and nonbinary youth who have access to gender-affirming spaces and acceptance from adults and peers report lower rates of attempting suicide in the past year.
- According to a poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. When asked about new policies that would ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams and transgender boys from playing on boys’ sports teams, 64% of transgender and nonbinary youth said it made them feel angry, 44% felt sad, 39% felt stressed, and 1 in 4 felt scared.
If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678.