Support Saves Lives: Exploring the Relationship Between Age of Transition, Family Support, and Retrospective K-12 Educational Experiences in Transgender Suicidality

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Transgender Health


Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers

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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to test the association between protective and risk factors, including age of transition, K-12 experiences, and family support, on suicidality among transgender and gender nonbinary/gender queer (TNB) adults. Methods: Our analysis relies on data from the 2015 United States Transgender Survey. We used separate logistic regression models to predict lifetime suicidal ideation and suicide attempt among 19,121 survey respondents. Results: Negative K-12 experiences significantly predict higher likelihood of both suicidal ideation and suicide attempt for transgender people, regardless of age of transition, and after controlling for a host of covariates. The age a transgender person begins to live full time in a gender different from the one assigned at birth has little association with suicidality. However, supportive families act as a buffer against suicidal ideation, and unsupportive families significantly predict higher likelihood of suicide attempt for transgender people when controlling for numerous covariates. Conclusion: Our findings underscore the importance of supportive environments for TNB adolescents. Interventions that strengthen interpersonal relationships and local environments will reduce suicidality among TNB youth. Importantly, recent anti-trans legislation may interfere with the ability of teachers and families to provide needed supports and will likely have deleterious effects on the mental health of TNB individuals.