If you have seen the films Boys Don’t Cry, Skin I Live In or Transamerica you might think life for gender diverse and trans (an umbrella term which incorporates a variety of trans identities), individuals is a kind of hell on earth, and for some it certainly can be. Little is actually known about the mental health needs of gender diverse, trans, and intersex, young people in Australia which is why researchers at La Trobe University recently conducted a study called From Blues to Rainbows.
This study spoke to gender diverse, trans, and intersex young people aged 14-25 years old. The results found that half of the young people surveyed were diagnosed with depression and two thirds had experienced verbal abuse, a more worrying fact is that almost all of the participants had experienced abuse because of their gender diversity. This ranged from verbal threats to physical violence. Alas for many these threats and eventuated into actual physical abuse, with one fifth reporting this. Some of you will also know that I have written about the devastating effects suicide can have on friends and family, and what I found most shocking in the results is that 90% had thought about suicide in response to the physical abuse they had experienced.
The report also found:
- 66% of participants had seen a health professional for their mental health in the past year
- 38% had suicidal thoughts and a quarter had spoken to a medical professional about it
- One in three did not feel supported by their family and suffered much higher rates of stress, suicide and depression
- 45% were diagnosed with anxiety compared with an average 25% of the population
Encouragingly the report also emphasized that parental, peer and school support can make a enormous and constructive impact to their wellbeing.
With 66% of this at risk group visiting health professionals it is important that they receive guidance on how best to deal with these and what language to use, given the negative impact the use of incorrect pronouns to address them can have, they are there for help and understanding to getting it right at the very start is key. Many of these young people are subjected to embarrassing questions or simply have their gender dysphoria as a teenage fancy that they will grow out of.
This of course a complex issue but one that needs to be better addressed so that these vulnerable young people get all the support and help they need to live the full and happy lives we all want to live.