Research Brief: Data on Transgender Youth

Summary

The inclusion of sexual identity measures in large scale national surveys have added to our knowledge about the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth (LGBQ). For example, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) has highlighted adverse mental health indicators among LGBQ students, including greater depressive symptoms, increased rates of seriously considering suicide, and higher rates of attempted suicide (Zaza et al., 2016). Until now, there has been a lack of nationwide data on risk factors and negative outcomes associated with transgender youth in the U.S. (diGiacomo et al., 2018). This brief report highlights newly released data from the 2017 YRBS which focuses on transgender high school students (Johns et al., 2019).

Results

Overall, 1.8% of youth identified as transgender. The almost 2% prevalence rate is more than double the previously available estimate of 0.7%. The prior estimate was based on the patterns of transgender identity among adults (Herman et al., 2017). However, it was noted that the 0.7% estimation would be inaccurate if younger cohorts identify as transgender at a sharply higher rate than 18–24 year olds. This YRBS data reveals that younger youth are indeed identifying as transgender at an increased rate.

Transgender youth reported significantly increased rates of depression, suicidality, and victimization compared to their cisgender peers. Notably, in the past year, one in three transgender youth reported attempting suicide, almost one-third reported being a victim of sexual violence, and more than half reported a two-week period of depression.

Methodology

This data represented the largest ever federal effort to capture data on transgender youth by surveying 118,803 high school students in ten states (Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin) and nine large urban school districts (Boston, Cleveland, District of Columbia, Detroit, Broward County, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco). Youth gender identity was based on their response to the YRBS question, “Some people describe themselves as transgender when their sex at birth does not match the way they think or feel about their gender. Are you transgender?” In this report, prevalence rates are based on youth who indicated “Yes, I am transgender” or “No, I am not transgender.” Youth who indicated that they were “not sure” if they were transgender or who indicated that they did not understand the question were excluded from this analysis.

Looking Ahead

This new data provides key insights about transgender youth. However, our knowledge is still incomplete as only 10 states and 9 large urban school districts included a question on gender identity in the 2017 YRBS. Additionally, we do not have information about other youth who do not identify as cisgender including gender fluid, non-binary, and agender youth. The Trevor Project and partner agencies have long advocated for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression questions in population based surveys, including the YRBS. We will continue our efforts to ensure that this valuable data is collected from all states and large urban school districts to best understand and support these youth.

References

diGiacomo, E., Krausz, M., Colmegna, F., Aspesi, F., & Clerici, M. (2018). Estimating the risk of attempted suicide among sexual minority youths: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(12),1145-1152

Herman, J.L., Flores, A.R., Brown, T.N.T., Wilson, B.D.M., & Conron, K.J. (2017). Age of individuals who identify as transgender in the United States. Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute.

Johns M.M., Lowry R., Andrzejewski J., et al. (2019). Transgender identity and experiences of violence victimization, substance use, suicide risk, and sexual risk behaviors among high school students — 19 states and large urban school districts, 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly. 68, 67–71. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6803a3

Zaza, S., Kann, L., & Barrios, L. C. (2016). Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents: population estimate and prevalence of health behaviors. Journal of the American Medical Association, 316(22), 2355-2356.

For more information please contact: [email protected]

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The Trevor Project Applauds Federal Court Decision to Let Conversion Therapy Ordinance in Florida Stand

Today, a federal district court in Florida refused to grant a preliminary injunction in the case of Otto v. Boca Raton that would have stopped the cities of Boca Raton and Palm Beach, FL from enforcing their ordinances protecting LGBTQ minors from conversion therapy at the hands of licensed mental health professionals.

“We’re glad to see a strong decision from the court recognizing the importance of laws protecting youth from conversion therapy,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “We were proud to file an amicus brief in this case sharing our experience of supporting LGBTQ youth who reach out to The Trevor Project for support because of the harms caused by conversion therapy. Today’s decision is in line with multiple other federal courts—including the Third and Ninth U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals—that have upheld similar laws, despite continuing attacks from pro-conversion therapy activists. We will continue to defend these laws, and fight for new bills, until LGBTQ youth are protected from conversion therapy in all 50 states.”

The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign works to introduce legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy in every state in the country. Because The Trevor Project has witnessed firsthand the devastating impact that conversion therapy can inflict on LGBTQ youth, we can provide a unique and important perspective for the court regarding the potential harm of granting a preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of Boca Raton’s anti-conversion therapy ordinance.

The Trevor Project was represented in this matter by pro bono counsel from Gibson Dunn, including Stuart Delery, Douglas Dreier, Lora MacDonald, Corey Singer, and Dione Garlick.


The Trevor Project Celebrates New York’s Gender Identity Protections

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act (GENDA) into law today, ensuring the basic rights of transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary New Yorkers will be protected under state law. GENDA prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in employment, housing, and public spaces, and updates New York’s hate crimes legislation. Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, commented on the groundbreaking bill:

“Legal protection from violence and discrimination is part of building an inclusive society where everybody can thrive, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Brinton. “The passage of GENDA into law is a tangible sign of hope for the youth who contact The Trevor Project’s crisis intervention services every day. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for his leadership in signing this important legislation.”


New Federal Survey Shows 2% of Us High School Students Identify As Transgender

The Trevor Project commends the CDC for counting transgender youth

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released a report that shows almost 2 percent of high school students identify as transgender, and 35 percent attempted suicide in the past year. The research was included in the CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): “Transgender Identity and Experiences of Violence Victimization, Substance Use, Suicide Risk, and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students — 19 States and Large Urban School Districts, 2017.

Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, commented on the importance of the report:

“The CDC’s new groundbreaking report shows that transgender youth exist in much greater numbers than researchers previously estimated1. 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 Trevor Project has worked with other groups for years to advocate for the CDC’s inclusion of transgender youth in its Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), and we commend them for acknowledging the needs of transgender young people in the only federal survey of youth health. Transgender and gender nonconforming youth contact The Trevor Project every day with questions about health, mental wellness, gender expression, and more. Now with inclusive health data that reflects the wide spectrum of gender identities, The Trevor Project can better inform its suicide prevention, risk detection, and response programs.

“We know the work is not over. This new YRBS data is game-changing, but still incomplete as long as only 10 states and 9 large urban school districts are choosing to ask about gender identity and expression. The Trevor Project will continue to educate and encourage decision-makers across the country to adopt the gender identity and expression questions in the next round of YRBS surveys. Only by understanding who our youth are and how they identify can we craft policies to allow every young person to thrive.”

The CDC released its latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey on June 14, 2018.

If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, contact The Trevor Project’s TrevorLifeline 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386. Counseling is also available via chat every day at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting 678-678.

1 Previously, the Williams Institute estimated that .7 percent of youth ages 13–17 identify as transgender (2017).


The Trevor Project’s Statement to the Supreme Court Decision on the Transgender Military Ban

“It is disappointing that the Supreme Court has elected to allow a ban on open service by transgender members of our armed forces to go into effect while the policy’s constitutionality has yet to be decided,” said Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project. “We want LGBTQ and especially transgender youth to know that this decision says nothing about their qualification to serve or their value as people. From the day the idea of a ban was tweeted, The Trevor Project has been pushing back, because we know firsthand the negative effects of the military ban on transgender youth. We also know the resilience and strength of the transgender community, and that their presence in our armed forces only makes our nation stronger.”

Previously:

The Trevor Project Responds: Administration Asks Supreme Court to Hear Transgender Military Ban Immediately

The Trevor Project Continues to Fight Trans Military Ban With Data


New York State Assembly and Senate Vote to Protect Minors from Conversion Therapy and LGBTQ People from Discrimination

The Trevor Project celebrates two bills that passed the New York legislature today that will protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of so-called “conversion therapy” and discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.

“The State of New York is sending a clear message today that LGBTQ youth are perfect as they are,” said Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project. “No one should face discrimination or the torture of conversion therapy because of who they love or who they are.”

NY Moves to Protect Minors from Conversion Therapy

Today the New York State Assembly and Senate both voted to protect minors from conversion therapy at the hands of licensed mental health professionals. When the bill is signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has indicated his strong support, New York will be the 15th state in the nation to protect LGBTQ youth from this dangerous and discredited practice.

“We are proud that the New York legislators have acted decisively today to protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of so-called ‘conversion therapy.’ We are grateful for Governor Cuomo’s leadership on this issue, and eagerly await his signature on this vital legislation,” said Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project. “As much as New York is renowned for being friendly to LGBTQ people, we at The Trevor Project know that thousands of young New Yorkers have made use of our suicide prevention and crisis intervention services in the last year alone. Conversion therapy-related issues come up frequently, and the stories these youth tell us about being forced to try to change who they are or who they love would break your heart. Today’s votes will save lives.”

“By passing this bill so early in the new year and with strong bipartisan support, New York is sending a powerful message that ending conversion therapy should be a priority,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “The Trevor Project is proud to be part of a strong coalition of people committed to ending this widely discredited and harmful practice. Thousands of local New Yorkers have contributed to the work of our ‘50 Bills 50 States’ initiative, and today they are seeing their efforts pay off.”

The Trevor Project’s “50 Bills 50 States” campaign works to introduce legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy in every state in the country. People can sign up to join “50 Bills 50 States” by texting “TREVOR” to 40649.

Celebrating New York’s Gender Identity Protections

The New York State Assembly and Senate also both voted for Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act (GENDA), ensuring the basic rights of transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary New Yorkers will be protected under state law. When Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill, the state will protect these groups from harassment and discrimination in employment, housing, and public spaces.

“The Trevor Project is overjoyed to see New York state lawmakers come together to make a powerful statement of support for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “Every day, The Trevor Project hears from youth who are afraid that being truthful about their gender identity will lead to discrimination or violence. Updating New York’s human rights laws to include gender identity will go a long way to ease those fears and allowing transgender people to simply live their lives like anybody else.”

If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, contact The Trevor Project’s TrevorLifeline 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386. Counseling is also available via chat every day at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting 678-678.


Research Brief: Holiday Crisis Trends

Summary

Contrary to popular media reports, the notion that overall rates of suicide increase around the holiday season has been unfounded (Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2017). In fact, data collected from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between January 1999 and December 2017 indicate that the months of November and December have consistently had the lowest rates of suicide (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Declines in suicide rates during this time period have been attributed to increased affiliation with family and friends and an increased sense of belonging (Ajdacic-Gross et al., 2003, Vanorden et al., 2008). However, this time period may be associated with increased crisis levels for LGBTQ youth who experience lower levels of family support and heightened levels of rejection compared to their straight, cisgender peers (Needham & Austin, 2010). This research brief focuses on trends in youth contacting The Trevor Project during the 2018 holiday season.

Results

Youth reached out to The Trevor Project at 20–40% lower rates on holidays compared to our typical contact volume, followed by a rate that was 20% higher than average in the two days after each holiday. More specifically, on the Thursday of and Friday following Thanksgiving, we saw contact volume that was 70% of our expected Thursday/Friday volume, followed by a sharp increase in the weekend that followed compared to a typical weekend. We saw similar reductions in volumes during Christmas Eve/Christmas Day (40%) and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day (20%), followed by a 20% elevated rate in the two days that followed compared to our typical volume on those days of the week.

Several factors might account for the observed trend. For example, youth may be unable to directly reach out to The Trevor Project for support on the days in which they are most likely to be in closest contact with family members and, therefore, increase contact with The Trevor Project in the days following these interactions. Alternatively, some youth may be enjoying close connections on the holidays and experiencing loneliness on subsequent days. Overall, these data point to the potential for seasonal trends for LGBTQ youth that are not being captured by current national data collection efforts on holiday suicide rates.

Methodology

The current analyses compared incoming volume data from the 4 weeks prior to each holiday. We used ratios for average volume for the same days of the week in the previous 4 weeks compared to each two day holiday period and the subsequent two days to control for impact of the weekday on the analysis.

Looking Ahead

Currently, seasonal trends in suicide rates cannot be examined by sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) as these data are not rigorously and systematically collected as part of national reporting systems on mortality such as the National Violent Death Reporting System. The Trevor Project advocates for enhanced training related to the collection of SOGI mortality data, as this data is imperative to better understanding and preventing suicide among LGBTQ youth. Additionally, although the current analyses focus on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays in order to expand on existing research centered on these holidays, The Trevor Project recognizes that we serve a diverse set of youth who may celebrate holidays other than those described in this report. Further analyzing trends in our crisis services volume will allow Trevor to continue improving the services and support offered to all LGBTQ youth who reach out to Trevor every day.

References

Ajdacic-Gross, V., Wang, J., Bopp, M., Eich, D., Rössler, W., & Gutzwiller, F. (2003). Are seasonalities in suicide dependent on suicide methods? A reappraisal. Social Science & Medicine, 57(7), 1173-1181.
Annenberg Public Policy Center (2017). Suicide rate is lower during holidays, but holiday-suicide myth persists. Available at: https://cdn.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Holiday-suicide_myth_2017.pdf
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2017 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December, 2018. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2017, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html on Mar 28, 2019
Needham, B. L., & Austin, E. L. (2010). Sexual orientation, parental support, and health during the transition to young adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(10), 1189-1198.
Van Orden, K. A., Witte, T. K., James, L. M., Castro, Y., Gordon, K. H., Braithwaite, S. R., … & Joiner Jr, T. E. (2008). Suicidal ideation in college students varies across semesters: The mediating role of belongingness. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 38(4), 427-435.

For more information please contact: [email protected]

Download the PDF


Last-Minute Holiday Gifts That Support LGBTQ Youth

Grab gifts for everyone on your list while supporting The Trevor Project! Each of these amazing partner brands is donating a portion of their proceeds to support our mission of saving young LGBTQ lives.

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Pride Collection

The RompHim Pride collection is the perfect way to show your pride and support Trevor’s programs while having a bit of romping good fun.

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Sock Problems

Rainbow Pow

Sock Problems brings us these lovable rainbows that “Sock Hate!” Every purchase of Rainbow Pow doesn’t simply support your feet; it supports The Trevor Project as 25% of Rainbow Pow sales are donated back to our organization.

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Rumpl

Pride Puffy Blanket

Whether indoors or outside, the Puffy blanket is designed to provide optimal warmth in any environment. Not only does this amazing blanket resist water, dirt, odor, pet hair, and other debris, but $5 from each blanket helps support Trevor’s life-saving programs!

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Faherty

Rainbow Capsule Collection

Faherty’s Rainbow Sweater Poncho and matching beanie & scarf are unique, luxuriously soft, and super cozy for the holidays. 10% of all sales go back to The Trevor Project!

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Holiday Self-Care Tips for LGBTQ Youth

Each year, we hear from LGBTQ young people that the holidays can be a particularly difficult time for them. The complicated relationships we have with our families can sometimes leave us feeling raw, overwhelmed, and upset during and after the holidays. Additionally, the time leading up to a holiday gathering can bring up anxiety as we think about how it might go. We know that it can be incredibly powerful to identify ways to support ourselves for if things get tough.

What’s a Self-Care Plan?

Self-care plans can look very different from one another — they’re just as diverse and unique as the people who use them! Before creating one, it is important to remember that whatever you are feeling is completely valid. You are not wrong for having your feelings, and you deserve to feel supported and loved for all that you are. Sometimes, though, we don’t get that love and support from the people who are supposed to love and support us. Self-care can be a way to love and support ourselves when we need it most.

Self-care can help us feel calmer, and it can give us a sense of control when things feel out of control. The best way to plan for this kind of self-support is to identify things that may be helpful or comforting for before, during, and after the holidays.

Self-Care Planning

Before, it can be helpful to find a friend or supportive adult to talk to about how you’re feeling. This can give us a clearer understanding of our fears and worries, and can help us identify what sorts of support we might need throughout the holidays. It is so powerful to know that we are not alone, that someone has our back, and is willing to listen. Also, if you know that someone will be at holiday gatherings who might be supportive of your identity, it might be helpful to talk with them beforehand if you are able to do so.

Self Care During the Holidays

As you enter a holiday gathering, it is important to remember that our identities are not contingent upon our family’s ability to understand or validate them. You know yourself best, you are the expert of yourself and your identity, and you are so incredibly valid. We know, though, that hearing this doesn’t change how difficult it can feel when the people around us aren’t showing us the acceptance and love that we deserve.

One thing that has been helpful for folks in the past is to create an affirmation to repeat in their head when they’re feeling anxious or upset. This can be very specific to your experience with specific comforting words or phrases, or it can be as simple as “I am valid,” or “I deserve to be supported and loved for who I am.” Additionally, it can be helpful to identify a friend who might be able to support you by texting you throughout, and to step away from family at any point to take care of yourself if you feel safe doing so — even if it’s just a quick walk outside or trip to the bathroom.

For transgender and gender non-conforming people who experience dysphoria (or for anyone whose physical expression is important to their identity), it can be great to get creative about the way that we affirm ourselves while with family. Folks have found it helpful to wear a piece of jewelry or clothing that feels affirming while around family. This can be something that is visible to others if that’s safe for you, or it can be something you wear under your clothing (like a necklace, a cool pair of socks, an undergarment, or a cute t-shirt!) so that only you know that it’s there.

Post-Holiday Self-Care

It can also be important to plan for the self-care we might need after the holidays. This may be talking with someone who is supportive and understanding, watching a favorite TV show, creating some art, writing about your holiday experience, taking a cozy bubble bath, or doing something else that makes you feel comforted. A lot of LGBTQ people find it affirming to watch LGBTQ YouTubers or read their blogs when they’re feeling upset or alone, as it helps us to remember that there are people out there who are just like us.

The Trevor Project is Here for You 24/7

The reality is that some LGBTQ young people will spend the holidays with family; and for others, the holidays are a reminder of the loss of and the rejection from their families. Homelessness, violence, and suicidal thoughts affect LGBTQ youth uniquely and profoundly, and the holidays can be particularly difficult while alone.

Regardless of our relationship to the holidays, creating a self-care plan can be a powerful way to show ourselves the love we deserve. If you need additional support, please know that Trevor is always here for you 24/7. You can reach out to our caring and compassionate counselors through our Lifeline, Chat, and Text programs to talk about anything you are going through — you might even want to consider making Trevor a part of your self-care plan!

Joie A. DeRitis, LMSW (she/her/hers)
Senior Trainer
The Trevor Project


The Trevor Project Joins Leading Civil Rights Groups on Amicus Brief Supporting Federal Hate Crimes Legislation

The Trevor Project, together with The Matthew Shepard Foundation, Freestate Justice, Lambda Legal, and the Anti-Defamation League have signed on to an amicus brief to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in defense of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA).

Since 2009, the HCPA has allowed the federal government to prosecute crimes motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as hate crimes, so long as those crimes had an effect on interstate commerce. Unfortunately, a District Court in Virginia recently overturned the conviction of an individual who admitted to viciously attacking his coworker because he thought he was gay, on the theory that “bias-motivated violence” is categorically “noneconomic” — even when the attack literally happened at an Amazon.com facility while the victim was simply doing their job, preparing to ship a package across state lines.

If allowed to stand, this narrow and clearly inappropriate interpretation would effectively erase important and groundbreaking federal protections for LGBTQ people. Hate-motivated violence against the LGBTQ community is a serious national problem, and one that LGBTQ youth worry about and discuss with us every day. In 2017, law enforcement agencies reported nearly 1,500 hate crimes motivated by gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation bias, a sharp increase over previous years — and those are just the crimes that were reported.

LGBTQ youth deserve to know that the law protects them in the strongest possible terms, which is why The Trevor Project is proud to stand with a powerful alliance of civil rights and anti-violence groups in defense of this important law. We are especially grateful to Freestate Justice for coordinating this brief.

“As we know from our work with our clients, LGBT people, in large part because the systemic and sometimes violent discrimination they encounter at work, experience poverty at disproportionately high rates. Although FreeState has worked hard to make sure that our Maryland state hate crimes law includes sexual orientation and gender identity, Matthew Shepard’s and James Byrd, Jr.’s law makes sure that protection extends to LGBT people and other vulnerable communities in all fifty states. The law carefully ensures that those who commit a hate crime in the workplace are held accountable; there is no doubt it was constitutionally applied here.” said Jennifer L. Kent, Managing Attorney, FreeState Justice.