In September 2019, UCLA published a study by authors Jodi Herman, Taylor Brown and Ann Haas
by the title of 'Suicide Thoughts and Attempts Among Transgender Adults'.
The UCLA study revisits The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS)
data with a view "to examine the key risk factors associated with lifetime and past-year suicide thoughts and attempts among a large and diverse sample of transgender people".
The USTS 2015 was the largest survey of transgender people in the U.S. to date. Despite what seems to be a politically left-leaning study in terms of some of its conclusions, these following findings paint a more nuanced picture of a more nuanced reality than the caricatures broadcast with vitriol by ideologues on both sides.
Suicidal thoughts amongst the transgender population are, unsurprisingly, primarily associated with feelings of social disapproval from whichever community the respondents have found themselves in.
Respondents who had been rejected by their religious communities or had undergone conversion therapy were more likely to report suicide thoughts and attempts. For instance, 13.1 percent of those who had experienced religious rejection in the past year had attempted suicide in the past year; by contrast, 6.3 percent of respondents who had experienced religious acceptance in the past year attempted suicide in the past year.
Those who had “de-transitioned” at some point, meaning having gone back to living according to their sex assigned at birth, were significantly more likely to report suicide thoughts and attempts, both past-year and lifetime, than those who had never “de-transitioned.” Nearly 12 percent of those who “de-transitioned” attempted suicide in the past year compared to 6.7 percent of those who have not “de-transitioned.”
More surprisingly (at least for me):
People who are not viewed by others as transgender and those who do not disclose to others that they are transgender reported a lower prevalence of suicide thoughts and attempts. For instance, 6.3 percent of those who reported that others can never tell they are transgender attempted suicide in the past year compared to 12.2 percent of those who reported that others can always tell they are transgender.
In other words, those who had experienced religious acceptance in the past year as well as those who have either hidden their transgender identity or have not been regarded as transgender had attempted suicide in the past year even less (at 6,3 %) than those who have transitioned and never "de-transitioned" (6,7 %). This finding would imply that for many transgender individuals there's no automatic benefit in transitioning as far as attempted suicide rates are concerned. Personally, suicide is too complex a phenomenon to be employed as a simplistic political weapon to attack one's ideological opponents irrespective of political affiliation. Hence even this finding should not be read into. But it does add nuance to the discussion.
It seems as if those who experienced social disapproval from their religious communities and were advised to receive conversion therapies had a similar rate of attempted suicide (13,1 %) as those who felt social disapproval by being always seen as transgender (12,2 %) as well as those who had "de-transitioned" and thereby experienced social disapproval probably both from within the transgender community and outside (attempted suicide rate at 12 %).
One could even be so bold as to conclude from the USTS data that all our conscious attempt to make everyone feel accepted and appreciated as equal human beings is the best predictor of lower suicide rates and lower social anxiety
, irrespective of other differences in our values, world views and views on sexuality and gender.
The main findings of the USTS are of course well-known and the rates haven't significantly improved to date:
According to the USTS 48.3 % of transgender respondents had had suicidal thoughts in the past year which was significantly higher than amongst the general population (including other members of the LGBTQ+ community).