The disparities are staggering: A growing body of research suggests that transgender teens experience suicidal thoughts and attempt to take their own lives far more often than their cisgender peers.
But in many studies and surveys on adolescent mental health, transgender teens are lumped together in one big group. A transgender teen boy is treated the same, in terms of the research, as a non-binary teen who was assigned male sex at birth.
In a paper published last month in Pediatrics, [Researcher Brian] Thoma and his colleagues analyzed mental health among 2,000 teens, more than half of whom were transgender. They asked teens to answer two key questions: What is your current gender identity, and what gender were you assigned at birth?
That two-step question revealed disparities lurking beneath the umbrella definition of transgender used in health research. Transgender boys were at the highest risk of a suicide attempt requiring medical attention, followed by non-binary teens assigned male at birth. Transgender girls were six times more likely than cis boys to have suicidal thoughts.
Thoma said it’s critical for datasets like the YRBS to start asking more comprehensive questions.