I posted some statistics about the mental health of transgender kids in a conversation the other day at work, and I can’t stop thinking about them.
- Transgender youth have an elevated risk of developing depression (50.6% vs. 20.6%).
- They suffer from anxiety more often (26.7% vs. 10%).
- Suicide attempts are higher (17.2% vs. 6.1%).
- And they engage in more self-harm (16.7% vs. 4.4%).
It’s easy to believe that trans kids have it made these days. In many ways, they do. At least compared to the dark ages that I grew up in. But clearly, it’s still a life fraught with turmoil and fear.
Yesterday, I was talking to Ayin about how self-destructive I was when I was younger. How I would provoke confrontations, whether I thought I’d come out on top of them or not (usually not). I said I didn’t know where that came from, but now I see it’s right there in those statistics: self-harm.
I went about it in a roundabout way, no doubt about that, but it was self-harm all the same. Provoking someone who I suspected would have a violent reaction only ever ended one way. With a violent reaction.
And anxiety? Oh, yeah. Depression? Yes.
I didn’t recognize that any of it was related to me suppressing who I was. In fact, I didn’t recognize any of it, period. I did everything I could to avoid thinking too deeply about how I felt. But I think it’s safe to say that’s precisely where many of my problems came from.
I’m glad to hear that courts are saying ‘no’ to some of the harmful, and frankly, cruel and sadistic, things some state legislators want to do to trans kids. I’m looking at you, Texas.
But I’m looking at everyone really because there are far more places where things are terrible for trans people than places where they are good.
I don’t have an answer to that. But I know how we can turn around those statistics: love and accept your children.
Even when they seem weird and confounding to you. Don’t be afraid that their very being reflects poorly on you somehow because some in our society don’t accept it. Whatever “it” is.
So there, we’ve solved that problem. 🙄
The title of this post is from a Peter Tosh song. He goes on to sing, “Jah call upon the youth, ’cause Jah know the youth is strong.” That’s a lovely sentiment, and it’s true, the youth are often called upon to foster and promote change.
But the youth are only as strong as their surroundings allow them to be. So empower your children’s strength by supporting and loving them.
No matter what.