On Suicidality and Trans Folks
Clarification on my research publications regarding this subject
[Edited to add a link to a German article that recently fact checked a person who misused the first study. I’m re-posting and expanding on this from my Twitter thread in essay form to make it more accessible and indexable. Feel free to reference or post it.]
It's come to my attention that TERFs and other bad actors are using my two articles on suicidality to argue that transition/affirmative care encourages it. These two articles are
Varied Reports of Adult Transgender Suicidality: Synthesizing and Describing the Peer-Reviewed and Gray Literature (2017; w/ Maaya Hitomi and Cherie Moody)
Suffice it to say that this is a seemingly wilful misinterpretation of the findings. But since it doesn’t suffice to say that, I’ll go into some more detail.
First, the last line in the abstract for the 2017 article is "future research should examine minority stress theory and suicidality protection/resilience factors, particularly transition, on this population." In other words, transition (2015) is a protective factor for those who desire it.
Another factor worth considering is that studies that measure ever contemplating or attempting suicide, as many included in my two reviews did, by definition only include people who had ever had this experience during the course of their life time. This is an additive function. As in, previous experience of transphobia or dysphoria can have made one more suicidal in the past and current congruence and lack of transphobia can make someone less suicidal in the present and future, but it can't make someone less suicidal in the past.
Affirmative and supportive care in childhood and adolescence may in fact be a big factor in why kids who are able to access it are less suicidal through childhood and into adulthood. Evidence indicates that is is critically important that this support come from parents and teachers (2020); (Both, 2020).
“A well-designed provincial survey of more than 400 trans youth in Ontario, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, revealed that young people whose gender identities are not strongly supported by their parents face an attempted suicide rate 14 times higher than their supported peers do. (Newhook, 2018)”
There are a number of other studies (2022) that also find this.
Regarding my finding that "GNC individuals appear to ideate... and attempt.. less than MTF and FTM individuals... (2017)." Consider the following also from this study
"It seems counterintuitive... that suicide attempts are lower before transition... However, we may expect to find higher rates of [lifetime] suicidality... because this... represents a non-transition specific and cumulative experience. (Adams, Hitomi, & Moody, 2017)”
In other words, these criticisms can be answered by the following;
When considering suicidality amongst the entire population (including folks who both do and don't desire transition) the higher rate of suicidality post transition is a factor of it typically occurring in adulthood after experiencing years of marginalization and dysphoria. You might expect suicidality to be higher amongst any population undergoing this type of mental strain.
References and Further Reading