It’s well known that LGBTQ+ youth in general and transgender youth in particular are at high risk of suicide. But the risk is especially great for Black trans and nonbinary young people, and there is nothing short of a public health crisis where their mental health is concerned, notes a new study from the Trevor Project.
Data from the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health shows 25 percent of Black transgender and nonbinary young people reported a suicide attempt in the previous year, according to the group’s new research brief, “Mental Health of Black Transgender and Nonbinary Young People,” released Tuesday. That’s more than double the rate of suicide attempts among Black cisgender LGBQ young people (12 percent).
“Simply put, the mental health of Black transgender and nonbinary young people is a public health crisis,” said Myeshia Price, director of research science at the Trevor Project.
Among Black trans and nonbinary young people, those who were assigned female at birth reported higher rates of both seriously considering suicide in the past year (60 percent) and attempting suicide in the past year (26 percent) than those assigned male at birth (43 percent and 18 percent, respectively).
Black trans and nonbinary young people reported higher rates of all indicators of poor mental health compared to their Black cisgender LGBQ peers. This included higher rates of discrimination (77 percent versus 56 percent) and being physically threatened or harmed due to their sexual orientation or gender identity (40 percent versus 22 percent), attempts from others to change their sexual orientation or gender identity (68 percent versus 45 percent), and housing instability (34 percent versus 24 percent).
Parents and non-LGBTQ+ friends were those who most often tried to convince Black trans and nonbinary youth to change. But supportive families and friends made a positive difference.
Black trans and nonbinary young people who reported high social support from their family reported lower rates of suicide attempts in the previous year (15 percent) than those with low or moderate levels of support (26 percent). However, only 13 percent reported high social support from family, but 77 percent reported they received that from friends, another factor associated with lower odds of a suicide attempt.
“Black trans and nonbinary young people are an especially vulnerable group as they hold multiple marginalized identities that place them at higher suicide risk. In addition to the challenges faced by all young people, Black trans and nonbinary young people experience violence, discrimination, and homelessness at alarmingly high rates, even compared to their cisgender LGBQ peers,” Price said. “These sobering data illustrate the importance of understanding intersectionality and the unique stressors that exist at the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender identity. Immediate steps must be taken by educators, youth-serving adults, and mental health professionals to ensure that Black trans and nonbinary young people feel seen, supported, and protected against a world that so often brings them harm.”
If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone you know may be, resources are available to help. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 is for people of all ages and identities.
Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations.
The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678.