More than half of Black transgender and nonbinary young people reported having seriously considered suicide in the past year, and more than 20 percent said they had attempted suicide, according to data released Tuesday by The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization.
Black LGBTQ young people experience elevated rates of discrimination related to both their race and ethnicity and their LGBTQ identities, according to Tuesday’s report, which analyzed survey responses from over 28,000 LGBTQ teens and young adults in the U.S.
For example, more than two-thirds, or 70 percent, of Black cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer (LGBQ) young people reported experiencing at least one form of discrimination related to their race, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in the past year. Eighty-three percent of Black transgender, nonbinary or questioning youths reported the same.
More than 72 percent of Black trans youth surveyed by The Trevor Project reported experiencing two or more types of discrimination in the past year, as did 58 percent of Black cisgender LGBQ respondents.
Those who reported experiencing discrimination related to their gender identity or expression in the past year were roughly twice as likely to report a past-year suicide attempt, according to Tuesday’s report.
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Racial discrimination was not independently associated with suicide attempts, but the effects of multiple types of discrimination were associated with increased odds of suicide attempts in the past year, particularly among Black trans, nonbinary and questioning young people.
Derrick Matthews, director of research science at The Trevor Project, called the group’s findings “sobering” and added that they underscore the importance of addressing mental health challenges and suicide prevention from an intersectional lens.
“Being an LGBTQ+ young person comes with its own set of systemic challenges, but we must not silo efforts to address those challenges among young people who hold multiple marginalized identities,” Matthews said in an emailed statement. “It is imperative to include the racial discrimination experienced by Black LGBTQ+ youth in this work as well.”
Encouragingly, however, more than half of Black LGBTQ young people who told The Trevor Project they had experienced discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity said they had received support about that discrimination from friends, family members, a mental health professional or a romantic partner.
Strong support systems and identity-affirming environments can act as key protective factors against depression, anxiety and suicidality among LGBTQ young people, prior research has shown.
Roughly half of transgender and nonbinary 13- to 24-year-olds surveyed by the Trevor Project last year said their gender identity was affirmed at school, and more than a third said their homes were gender-affirming. Those who reported access to affirming spaces — including online spaces — reported lower rates of attempting suicide than those who did not.
In the same report, more than 50 percent of LGBTQ young people said it would be helpful for the people in their lives to know more about racism, and 45 percent said they’d like their loved ones to learn more about intersectionality.
“We urge mental health professionals, educators, and other youth-facing adults to better understand the diverse and layered experiences that exist at the intersection of race/ethnicity and sexual orientation or gender identity so they can play a role in dismantling oppression in all its forms,” said Matthews.
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, resources are available to help. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress. Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender and gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The Trevor Project’s 24/7 hotline for LGBTQ youth can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Chat services are available at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or by texting START to 678-678.