Trans data ‘alarm­ing’

Re­port shows trans youth face high risk of sui­cide

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - YOUR ESSENTIAL DAILY NEWS - El­iz­a­beth Cameron for metro | cal­gary

Trans­gen­der youth need ac­cess to in­clu­sive health care in Al­berta and sup­port­ive school en­vi­ron­ments to mit­i­gate sig­nif­i­cant men­tal health con­cerns, ac­cord­ing to new re­search from sev­eral Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties.

The Cana­dian Trans Youth Health Sur­vey, re­leased Wed­nes­day, found thirty-eight per cent of the older youth sur­veyed (114 trans youth aged 14 to 25 in Al­berta re­sponded) had at­tempted sui­cide in their life­time and more than 63 per cent re­ported they have had se­ri­ous thoughts of sui­cide.

The data also showed 73 per cent of the youth re­ported self­harm in the past year.

The sur­vey was con­ducted across Canada but province­spe­cific re­ports were com­piled.

Dr. Kris Wells, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor and fac­ulty di­rec­tor for the Univer­sity of Al­berta’s In­sti­tute for Sex­ual Mi­nor­ity Stud­ies and Ser­vices who co-au­thored the re­port, said to the best of his knowl­edge, it’s the first Al­ber­taspe­cific set of data about trans­gen­der youth.

“The find­ings are alarm­ing and dis­turb­ing,” Wells said. “We’ve shown there is ev­i­dence that more in­clu­sive ac­tions need to take place.”

The re­port made sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions, in­clud­ing that schools work proac­tively with trans youth, their par­ents, com­mu­nity lead­ers and pro­fes­sion­als to de­velop in­clu­sive and sup­port­ive school poli­cies — gay-straight al­liances (GSAs) in­cluded.

Wells said the re­port un­der­scores that GSAs are needed in all Al­berta schools.

“It pro­vides the hard data to move for­ward with chang­ing our leg­is­la­tion to be more in­clu­sive and in­crease sup­ports for a very vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion,” Wells said.

Last month, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter David Eggen said he will be in­tro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion to make it il­le­gal to ‘out’ stu­dents who join GSAs.

The re­port also rec­om­mended more out­reach and pro­fes­sional sup­ports for fam­i­lies be de­vel­oped to help them un­der­stand and sup­port their trans chil­dren, and to help trans youth feel safe at home.

El­iz­a­beth cameron/for metro

An­gela Reid raises the trans­gen­der pride flag with MLA Michael Con­nelly on Trans­gen­der Day of Remembrance in 2016.

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