Let the conversation begin.
Transgender Youth Suicide Puts Glaring Spotlight on Urgent Need for Virtual Safe Place for Crisis Intervention and Mental Health Treatment
Post by Kerry Martin, CEO & Founder, and Trent Gerdeman, Marketing Intern, Hope Xchange Nonprofit.
Suicide Rates and Attempts in Transgender Community
The Trevor Project reports that nearly 50% of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their own lives, and 25% report having made a suicide attempt. The National Discrimination Survey puts this number at 40%.
In the Transgender Discrimination Survey, a staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population, with rates rising for those who lost a job due to bias (55%), were harassed/bullied in school (51%), had a low household income, or were the victim of physical assault (61%) or sexual assault (64%).
In the largest online survey of transgender adults 18 and older examining the experiences of 27,715 respondents in all 50 states, the 2015 US Transgender Survey Report reported:
Unique Challenges Faced by Transgender Youth
When you consider the difficulties transgender youth go through during puberty and early adulthood these statistics, while gut-wrenching, really aren’t surprising. A recent blog post on Transgender Mental Health addressed both of these crucial developmental stages:
Add to this, the many societal challenges summarized by Advocates for Youth: deliberately incorrect and disrespectful use of names and pronoun; lack of access to appropriate restroom facilities; lack of access to appropriate locker room facilities; rigid dress codes that differ for males and female; confidentiality issues; and lack of role models and accurate information.
What is abundantly clear is that the transgender community continually faces problems that gender-conforming individuals can only imagine. Social ostracism, physical assault, and verbal harassment are just the beginning. Further, the education system is not given the proper tools in order to help these individuals feel safe and secure.
Something clearly must be done.
Glaring Disparities in Mental Health in Our Young Transgender Populations Highlight Urgent Call to Action
In a May 2016 editorial published in JAMA Pediatrics by Johanna Olson-Kennedy, MD, Medical Director of The Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles she discusses the disparities in mental health in young transgender populations.
She starts her article by quoting another recent study, also published in JAMA Pediatrics, that found over 40% of the nearly 300 young transgender women had at least one mental health or substance abuse issue. Over a third of the participants had major depressive episodes, and 20% had contemplated suicide at some point over the prior 30 days.
And she concludes with: "while the prevalence rates of depression are notably higher in this community sample of transfeminine youth and young adults than in cohorts recruited from dedicated transgender care sites, underscoring the potential influence of lack of access to services, both medical and mental health, the need for more accessible and improved mental health care for transgender youth is clear, but addressing this need is complicated.”
Yes, it is clearly complicated. But, clearly something must be done.
Development of Program Specifically Targeting LGBTQIA Youth With Bipolar Disorder: Note From Our CEO
In Hope Xchange’s Hope for Bipolars mentoring program I mentor a transgender youth, a sweet vulnerable bright kid one year away from law school who I adore and who has the misfortune of living in a rural area in this country. The day after last year's election, she sent me a text saying she had been beat up and that her gay friends’ car tires were slashed with harassing notes left on their car windows.
His friends sent him guy's clothes suggesting she wear them. That night, she cracked her tooth while sleeping and had to seek treatment at the ER the following morning. And, to make matters worse, this was the same community in which the KKK decided it now was empowered to march.
Recently, she has slipped between the gap between Obamacare and Medicaid and is now off bipolar medications. Is any of this fair? Heartbreakingly, no.
Upon hearing about the fact that Hope Xchange was embarking on a program specifically targeted at helping LGBTQIA youth with bipolar disorder and that I wanted her input, here's what she had to say:
"Awesome. Hearing this is happening is so incredible. I have many young trans friends who also have bipolar and a program like this will absolutely be live saving ❤️ " ~ A
My younger brother is also transgender so I am intimately familiar with the personal pain and anguish of gender dysphoria, transitioning, and the difficulties regarding whether or not to undergo surgery, seeking physical and mental health treatment, and establishing healthy relationships. I realize that the needs of those in the transgender community are unique and that this population is simply grossly underserved.
I am also gay. I fear that life for our children and youth who are gay or questioning their own sexual identity is only going to get more difficult in this current political climate. Something clearly must be done.
HOPE for LGBTQIA Gives Gay Youth with Bipolar Disorder Reasons to Hold On to Hope and Life
We are now designing and fundraising for HOPE for LGBTQIA, a password-protected virtual safe space with live chat, messaging, immediate access to a therapist (if deemed necessary), an online resource center, social network functionality, a mobile app to access the web platform, as well as an option to request a peer mentor and mental health advocate will be provided. Via the mobile app, we will also be able to use geo-locate to look up exactly where they are are in case of emergencies and the police need to be contacted.
If you are interested in becoming a HOPE Ambassador and helping us fundraise or making a donation to make this program a reality, you can learn more here.
If you are in a crisis and need help now, please reach out. Please do it now. To find a list of hotlines, including LGBT, transgender-friendly, and teen lines, please GO HERE.