Trans and Nonbinary Youth Face Increased Risks as They Come Out Younger: Report

Protesters at transgender rights rally
Protesters at transgender rights rally

Transgender and nonbinary young people are coming out about their gender identity at younger ages — something that comes with a risk, but supportive families can mitigate that, according to a new research brief from the Trevor Project.

Those who came out before age 13 had increased suicide risk: Sixty-two percent of those who came out at an age younger than 13 seriously considered suicide in the past year, compared to 51 percent of those who came out later.

Fifty-two percent of those who came out before they turned 13 reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed due to their gender identity, compared to 39 percent of those who came out at an older age.

Those who came out before age 13 and experienced victimization reported higher rates of attempting suicide than who also came out before turning 13 but did not experience victimization.

Those who were younger than 13 when coming out but had high family support reported lower rates of considering and attempting suicide in the past year.

But waiting isn’t necessarily a good option either — trans and nonbinary youth who came out two or more years after first thinking they might be trans or nonbinary had 45 percent higher odds of attempting suicide in the previous year.

“Right now, transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. are dealing with an impossible duality: Visibility and understanding of trans people are at an all-time high, and yet, at the same time, they are witnessing a historic wave of anti-trans political attacks all across the country,” Jonah DeChants, senior research scientist at the Trevor Project, said in a press release.

DeChants added: “These findings demonstrate that young people are coming out about their gender identity at younger ages than ever before — and that those who come out to supportive families report lower suicide risk compared to those with unsupportive families. As we approach the international observation of Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, allies and advocates can use these data to underscore the dire need to show up for trans and nonbinary young people at this moment in history. Taking even small steps to support the trans young people in our lives can be, quite literally, lifesaving.”

If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone you know may be, resources are available to help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 is for people of all ages and identities. The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678. Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations.