In 2016, the Telethon Kids Institute launched the largest national survey conducted of the mental health and care pathways of transgender and gender diverse young people in Australia. This Trans Pathways study incorporated the views of 859 transgender and gender diverse young people aged 14 – 25 years and 194 parents and guardians of transgender and gender diverse young people.
The results of the survey indicated that three in every four transgender young person had experienced anxiety or depression, four out of five had engaged in self-harm, and almost one in two (48%) had attempted suicide.
When comparing the responses of this survey to the self-harm and suicide rates of adolescents in the Australian general population, the results are significantly different. Attempted suicide rates were 20 times higher amongst transgender young people compared to those aged 12-17 years in the Australian general population. In addition to this, 79.7% of trans young people indicated that they had self-harmed compared to 10.9% of those aged 12-17 years in the Australian general population.
When asked about access to health care options, 60% of participants specified that they feel isolated from medical and mental health services and 42% of those participants who did reach out to a health service provider, indicated that the health service provider did not understand or respect their gender identity. In relation to why participants felt isolated from accessing health services, a lack of education about gender diversity, knowledge of where to refer transgender clients and transphobia by health care professionals were commonly acknowledged by participants.
The survey quantifies the very high risk that transgender young people face for mental health issues, self-harm and suicide attempts. Fortunately, the Trans Pathways study also identified opportunities to modify risk factors faced through developing interventions which are based on strength and protective factors.
To view the full report and reach the recommendations for Government, health commissioners and service providers, click here.
Pictures from report: Strauss, P., Cook, A., Winter, S., Watson, V., Wright Toussaint, D., Lin, A. (2017). Trans Pathways: the mental health experiences and care pathways of trans young people. Summary of results. Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Australia.