Suicidal disparities between transgender and cisgender adolescents
Thoma, B.C., Salk, R.H., Choukas-Bradley, S., Goldstein, T.R., Levine, M.D., & Marshal, M.P.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Emerging evidence indicates transgender adolescents (TGAs) exhibit elevated rates of suicidal ideation and attempt compared with cisgender adolescents (CGAs). Less is known about risk among subgroups of TGAs because of limited measures of gender identity in previous studies. We examined disparities in suicidality across the full spectrum of suicidality between TGAs and CGAs and examined risk for suicidality within TGA subgroups.
METHODS: Adolescents aged 14 to 18 completed a cross-sectional online survey (N = 2020, including 1148 TGAs). Participants reported gender assigned at birth and current gender identity (categorized as cisgender males, cisgender females, transgender males, transgender females, nonbinary adolescents assigned female at birth, nonbinary adolescents assigned male at birth, and questioning gender identity). Lifetime suicidality (passive death wish, suicidal ideation, suicide plan, suicide attempt, and attempt requiring medical care) and nonsuicidal self-injury were assessed.
RESULTS: Aggregated into 1 group, TGAs had higher odds of all outcomes as compared with CGAs. Within TGA subgroups, transgender males and transgender females had higher odds of suicidal ideation and attempt than CGA groups.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we used comprehensive measures of gender assigned at birth and current gender identity within a large nationwide survey of adolescents in the United States to examine suicidality among TGAs and CGAs. TGAs had higher odds of all suicidality outcomes, and transgender males and transgender females had high risk for suicidal ideation and attempt. Authors of future adolescent suicidality research must assess both gender assigned at birth and current gender identity to accurately identify and categorize TGAs.