CANADA: Supportive families and schools critical in protecting transgender youth health: University of British Columbia study

May 15, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

UBC News

A new study shows significant rates of self-harm and suicidal behavior among Canada’s transgender youth, but also offers insights about protective factors that may reduce these risks. Almost two-thirds of the young people (ages 14-25) who were surveyed reported that they had harmed themselves intentionally in the past year, and over a third said that they had attempted suicide. Only 15 percent said they were comfortable discussing all of their health needs with their doctor. However, said Elizabeth Saewyc, a professor of nursing at the University of British Columbia and the principal investigator of the study, there are clear avenues to improving trans young people’s emotional stability. “If someone had a supportive adult in the family, they were about four times less likely to have self-harmed in the past 12 months,” Saewyc said. “If they felt more connected to school, they were almost twice as likely to report good or excellent mental health as those with lower levels of school connectedness.” The report’s authors concluded that programs are necessary to help families understand and support their transgender children, that schools should be made more inclusive, and that steps should be taken to make health care both more affirming and more accessible for trans youth.

Spark Extra! Check out the report Being Safe, Being Me: Results of the Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey.