Compared with their cisgender peers, the 1.8 percent of transgender high school students who say they are transgender report higher risks of numerous serious threats to their health and well-being. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey found that trans teens reported consistently higher rates of numerous subcategories of violence victimization, substance use and suicide risk as well as sexual behaviors that are associated with an elevated risk of contracting HIV.
Publishing their findings in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers analyzed data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a survey conducted every other year that for the first time gave school districts the option to ask about transgender identity. Ten states and nine large urban school districts included this question, yielding a pool of 131,901 high school students in grades nine through 12. The data were weighted to be representative of each district.
The researchers compared the responses to various questions of those who said they were trans versus those who said they were not trans. Questions pertained to violence victimization, lifetime substance use, suicide risk in the previous 12 months, and sexual behaviors.
“Transgender youths in high school appear to face serious risk for violence victimization, substance use, and suicide, as well as some sexual risk behaviors, indicating a need for programmatic efforts to better support the overall health of transgender youths,” the study authors concluded. “Taking steps to create safe learning environments and provide access to culturally competent physical and mental health care might be important first steps to improving the health of transgender youths. Continued research into the health of transgender youths and development of effective intervention strategies are warranted.”
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