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Anti-trans legislation negatively impacted mental health of LGBTQ+ youth: poll

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Story at a glance

  • More than 60 percent of LGBTQ+ youth said their mental health has deteriorated as a result of recent efforts to restrict access to things like gender-affirming care for transgender youth.
  • 2021 was the worst year in recent history for LGBTQ+ state legislative attacks, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Experts don’t expect 2022 to be much better.
  • In a separate Trevor Project study, gender-affirming care was found to be associated with a significantly lowered risk of depression and suicide.

More than two-thirds of LGBTQ+ youth say recent efforts by states to limit the rights of transgender and nonbinary people have negatively impacted their mental health, according to a poll released Monday by the Trevor Project.

States in 2021 enacted a “record-shattering” number of anti-LGBTQ+ policies, making it the worst year in recent history for LGBTQ+ state legislative attacks, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Advocates say 2022 is likely to see a similar wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

“It is January which means states will be starting legislative sessions soon and we will again see gratuitous attacks on trans people, particularly trans youth,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU, tweeted last week.


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Just days into the 2022 legislative session, bills have been introduced in six states — Missouri, Indiana, Arizona, South Carolina, Kentucky and South Dakota — that would “prohibit access to sports for trans and non binary youth,” Casey Pick, senior fellow for advocacy and government affairs for the Trevor Project, told Axios on Monday.

Alabama, Arizona and Ohio also filed legislation that “would ban doctors for providing best practice health care for trans and non-binary youth,” Pick said.

In the Trevor Project’s survey of 820 LGBTQ+ youth aged 13 to 24 years old, 70 percent said they were closely following recent news about issues impacting the transgender community, and two-thirds of LGBTQ+ youth said debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.

That impact has been more dramatic among transgender and nonbinary youth, with more than 85 percent of that group reporting that their mental health has taken a hit, according to the survey.

“These results underscore how recent politics and ongoing crises facing the globe can have a real, negative impact on LGBTQ young people, a group consistently found to be at significantly increased risk for depression, anxiety and attempting suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society,” Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project, said in a statement.

The Trevor Project poll confirms what many doctors have already suspected: a mental health crisis is looming among transgender and nonbinary youth as states work to curb access to gender-affirming care, which has been linked to a significantly reduced risk of depression and suicide.

“I see multiple patients daily that are suffering with depression and suicide ideation and suicide attempt and anxiety, and my fear is that if we deny them this evidence-based treatment, we’re only going to see massive more patients come to the emergency room,” Jesse Martinez Jr., a doctor of psychiatry at Children’s of Alabama, told Axios in May.

During the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers in 21 states introduced legislation to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth, putting more than 45,000 transgender minors at risk of being denied critical care, according to the Williams Institute.

Anti-trans legislation was signed into law in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee.


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