Calling transgender teens by their chosen name lowers suicide rates

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  • Researchers interviewed trans adolescents between ages 15 and 21 and gathered their responses on whether or not they were able to use their chosen name when attending school, at home, at work, or among friends.
  • They found out that among those who were able to use their chosen name in all four areas in their social life, 71 percent reported fewer symptoms of severe depression.
  • The research also revealed that even using their chosen name in one area in their social life corresponded to 29 percent decrease in having suicidal thoughts.

A study investigating on the lives of transgender teenagers in the U.S. have found out that calling them by their chosen name lowers suicide and depression rates.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin revealed the findings of their study on the connection between mental health issues such as tendency to commit suicide or depression and when transgender youth were allowed to use their chosen name at work, in school, or at home.

Name at birth versus chosen name

The study was considered to be the largest and the most diverse conducted on transgender young people according to the recent transgender news by the university as published on their website last March 30.

Stephen T. Russell, professor and chair of human development and family science, explained that youths who identify as transgender have a name given to them at birth as well as a name that they chose for themselves.

“Many kids who are transgender have chosen a name that is different than the one that they were given at birth,” Russell stated. “We showed that the more contexts or settings where they were able to use their preferred name, the stronger their mental health was.”

The researchers, which included Amanda M. Pollitt of the University of Texas, Gu Li of the University of British Columbia, and Arnold Grossman of New York University, interviewed trans adolescents between ages 15 and 21 and gathered their responses on whether or not they were able to use their chosen name when attending school, at home, at work, or among friends.

Characterizing the study as diverse in terms of social class, ethnicity, and geography, Russell explained that it involved 129 adolescents in three major cities located in the Northeast, Southwest, and the West Coast.

Because the members of the transgender community comprise 1 percent of the total population, researchers coordinated with groups catering to the needs of the LGBT youths and other venues to come up with a diverse group of respondents.

Results of the study

In a previous research by Russell, it was found out that trans young people harbour suicidal thoughts almost as twice as the rate of their fellow youths, with about 1 out of 3 thinking of suicide.

They found out that among those who were able to use their chosen name in all four areas in their social life, 71 percent reported fewer symptoms of severe depression.

In addition, there was 34 percent decrease of thoughts to commit suicide and a 65 percent decrease in attempting to commit one.

Controlling for other factors such as personal characteristics and social support, the research also revealed that even using their chosen name in one area corresponded to 29 percent decrease in having suicidal thoughts.

“I’ve been doing research on LGBT youth for almost 20 years now, and even I was surprised by how clear that link was,” he said.

He also went on to explain that institutions such as schools, hospitals, financial establishments, workplaces, and community organizations could help transgender young people by simply using their chosen name.

“It’s practical to support young people in using the name that they choose,” he stated. “It’s respectful and developmentally appropriate.”

The National Institute of Mental Health and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded the study through a grant. It was also supported by the UT Population Research Center.

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Trans advocate, beauty queen, model, runner. Marketing director of myladyboydate.com and mytranssexualdate.com.

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