Almost 2% of high school students identify as transgender, according to a new study.
The Centers for Disease Control report uses data from its Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (YRBS), which asked 131,901 students across 10 states and nine ‘large urban school districts’ an optional question about transgender identity.
In response to the question “Are you transgender?”, 94.4% of students who answered said no, 1.8% said yes, 1.6% said they are not sure, and 2.1% said they do not understand what the question is asking.
The study also found that transgender students are at disproportionately higher risk than cisgender students of experiencing violence victimisation, substance use, and suicide risk.
Caitlin Clark, a research associate at GLSEN (a non-profit which works to ensure schools are safe for LGBTQ students), told NBC News: “In order to make policy changes, we need to have hard numbers to point to.
“Trans youth don’t experience poorer mental health or higher suicidality because it’s something that comes with being trans. Trans people have poorer mental health because they are at higher risk of victimisation and discrimination.”
34.6% of transgender students report having attempted suicide, compared to 5.5% of cisgender males and 9.1% of cisgender females.
Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project, said the study is proof that “transgender youth exist in much greater numbers” than previously estimated, and called for greater protections for transgender individuals.
“The CDC’s findings highlight the need for even more policies to protect transgender and gender nonconforming youth, as well as additional support for LGBTQ-affirming organizations like The Trevor Project,” he said.
“Transgender and gender nonconforming youth contact The Trevor Project every day with questions about health, mental wellness, gender expression, and more.
“Now with inclusive health data that reflects the wide spectrum of gender identities, The Trevor Project can better inform its suicide prevention, risk detection, and response programs.”
Paley continued: “We know the work is not over. This new YRBS data is game-changing, but still incomplete as long as only 10 states and 9 large urban school districts are choosing to ask about gender identity and expression.
“The Trevor Project will continue to educate and encourage decision-makers across the country to adopt the gender identity and expression questions in the next round of YRBS surveys.
“Only by understanding who our youth are and how they identify can we craft policies to allow every young person to thrive.”