More than one third of high school students who identify as transgender have attempted suicide in the last year, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study found that transgender students experience higher rates of alcohol and drug use, suicidal thoughts, and victimization such as bullying and dating violence compared to their cisgender peers. Transgender students are twice as likely to be bullied and four times as likely to feel unsafe on their way to and from school, according to the study.
The report, conducted in 2017 and released earlier this month, is the first of its kind by the CDC to focus on transgender identity and violence against transgender youth. CDC researchers pooled data from their biannual The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which samples more than 130,000 respondents from ninth to 12thgrade in 10 states.
Researchers asked students if they identified as transgender, defined in the study as an individual whose gender identity does not align with their sex at birth. The study revealed that nearly 2 percent of students – or one in 50 students – identify as transgender, and 1.6 percent were not sure.
But the survey includes only students currently attending school. The students most at risk of violence and discrimination might have dropped out due to a non-inclusive or hostile school environment.
The new findings highlight a critical point in LGBTQ advocacy — the need for more policies that protect transgender and gender nonconforming youth and support their overall health. CDC researchers recommend that schools start by creating safe and inclusive learning environments and provide counseling and mental health services to transgender and gender nonconforming students.