Nearly two percent of high school students identify as transgender, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control.
The groundbreaking study, released Thursday, showed that trans youth exist in greater numbers than previously thought. However, it also highlighted the health risks that these students face.
Around 27 percent of trans students feel unsafe going to school, 35 percent are bullied, and 35 percent have attempted suicide within the past year. Compared with their cisgender peers, trans young people were also more likely to report being victims of violence, struggle with substance abuse, and receive an HIV test.
The findings are from the CDC's 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Study, which for the first time polled for transgender identity in 19 sites. These sites included 10 states (Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin) and nine school districts in major urban areas (Boston, Broward County, Cleveland, Detroit, District of Columbia, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, and San Francisco).
The pilot question asked students, "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?" Response options included, "A. No, I am not transgender; B. Yes, I am transgender; C. I am not sure if I am transgender; D. I do not know what this question is asking." Overall, 1.8 percent of respondents selected B.
Amit Paley — CEO of the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that provides resources to LGBTQ youth at risk for suicide — praised the inclusion of transgender youth in this important federal survey.
"By collecting data inclusive of gender identity, the report shows the very real health risks faced by transgender and gender non-conforming youth," Paley said in a statement. "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."
However, Paley stressed that this survey was still "incomplete," because it was limited to only 10 states and 9 urban areas. He encouraged the CDC to expand its scope in future surveys in order to educate policymakers on the needs of this vulnerable community. "Only by understanding who our youth are and how they identify can we craft policies to allow every young person to thrive," Paley said.
The Trump administration has actively worked to undermine and erase transgender people on a federal level. One of the first actions of its education department, led by billionaire Betsy DeVos, was to revoke Obama-era guidelines that urged public schools allow trans students use of facilities that align with their gender identities. An option to identify as LGBTQ was also removed from the 2020 U.S. Census.
Moreover, the conservative-majority Supreme Court announced a 5-4 decision on Monday to lift injunctions on Donald Trump's 2017 ban on transgender service members. The ban raises many alarms, including whether the federal government will continue to recognize transgender people and the health care they require.
If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860. LGBTQ youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at (866) 488-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.