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Letter to those who have power to enforce change

To whom it may concern,

We are writing to bring attention to a pressing issue that demands our collective efforts and empathy: the high rates of suicide within the transgender community.

We must urgently address the complex factors contributing to the heightened risk of suicide among trans people.

Social stigma and discrimination are pervasive challenges faced by the transgender community, leading to isolation, rejection, and a disturbing lack of social support. These factors, combined with the distress associated with gender dysphoria, contribute significantly to mental health struggles among trans people. [1, 2]

Bullying and harassment in various settings, including schools, workplaces, and online platforms, further compound the challenges faced by trans people. The hostile environment created by such behaviour can have severe consequences on their mental wellbeing. [3–5]

Limited access to healthcare, mental health services, and gender-affirming care is another critical issue. Trans people often encounter barriers that prevent them from accessing the support they need, exacerbating their mental health challenges. [6, 7]

These challenges are taking place in and are exacerbated by an intensely hostile political and media environment for trans people in the UK. Over recent years, there has been an alarming amount of anti-trans rhetoric from politicians and the mainstream media. Furthermore, the UK Government has been suggesting a number of trans-exclusionary policies, including proposals to remove protections for trans children in schools and proposals to ban trans women from women’s spaces, such as women’s NHS wards. It is crucial to express the deep impact that discriminatory policies and trans-exclusionary rhetoric can have on the emotional wellbeing of transgender individuals. These proposed policies infringe upon their rights and threaten their safety. This discrimination often leads to an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair, further contributing to the increased rates of suicide within the transgender community. [8–10]

Imagine facing legal restrictions that prevent you from updating your identification documents to reflect your true gender identity, suffering discrimination in crucial areas like employment or housing, or encountering frequent attacks against the group to which you belong by your country’s politicians and the mainstream media. These experiences create an environment of marginalisation and exclusion, leaving people feeling hopeless and discouraged.

Encountering such barriers creates a pervasive feeling of being misunderstood and rejected by society. It becomes a daily struggle to reconcile one’s identity with a world that, at times, fails to acknowledge the rights and experiences of transgender individuals fully. This emotional burden and stress of navigating a society that does not embrace diversity significantly contribute to a profound sense of hopelessness.

This feeling of hopelessness is a powerful catalyst for mental health challenges that lead to severe emotional distress. Transgender individuals may find themselves caught in a painful internal conflict, feeling trapped in a society that may not fully recognise their rights and experiences. This vulnerability can escalate to the point of contemplating suicide.

To end the cycle of discrimination, it is essential for institutions, especially powerful ones like yours, to actively work together to publicly denounce this discriminatory rhetoric and to advocate for inclusive policies. By creating environments that respect and protect the rights of transgender individuals, we can contribute to a more compassionate society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Implementing these changes not only safeguards the emotional wellbeing of transgender individuals but also sends a powerful message that their rights and identities are valued and respected at every level of society.

Trans people are often made to feel shame and guilt about their gender identities due to societal prejudices, which are exacerbated by the political and media hostility described above. Addressing these internal struggles is crucial for promoting mental wellbeing.

Please take proactive measures to address the causes of the heightened suicidal risk within the trans community. This includes creating inclusive environments, combating discrimination, improving access to healthcare, fostering understanding and empathy, and publicly denouncing the trans-exclusionary rhetoric and policies that are harming the trans members of our society. Mental health professionals, allies, and community organisations must collaborate to ensure a supportive and affirming atmosphere for trans people.

Please know that GenderGP has extensive and vast experience in working with trans people around the world, and we can offer you our help and advice so we can protect transgender people and avoid any further tragic situations that can arise.

By acknowledging and acting upon these challenges, we can work together to make a tangible and positive impact on the mental wellbeing of the trans community. We appreciate your attention to this critical matter and look forward to seeing meaningful steps taken toward a more inclusive and supportive environment.

Best Regards,

GenderGP

References

  1. de Freitas, L. D., Léda-Rêgo, G., Bezerra-Filho, S., and Miranda-Scippa, Â. (2020). “Psychiatric disorders in individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria: A systematic review”. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 74: 99–104.
  2. Trevor Project (2020). National survey on LGBTQ youth mental health 2020. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey2020/
  3. Klein, A., and Golub, S. A. (2016). “Family Rejection as a Predictor of Suicide Attempts and Substance Misuse Among Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Adults”. LGBT Health, 3: 193–199.
  4. Hughto, J. M. W., Reisner, S. L., and Pachankis, J. E. (2015). “Transgender stigma and health: A critical review of stigma determinants, mechanisms, and interventions”. Social Science and Medicine, 147: 222–231.
  5. Katz-Wise, S. L., Ehrensaft, D., Vetters, R., Forcier, M., and Austin, S. B. (2018). “Family functioning and mental health of transgender and gender-nonconforming youth in the trans teen and family narratives project”. Journal of Sex Research, 55: 582–590
  6. Tan, K. K. H., Byrne, J. L., Treharne, G. J., and Veale, J. F. (2023). “Unmet need for gender-afrming care as a social determinant of mental health inequities for transgender youth in Aotearoa/New Zealand”. Journal of Public Health, 45: e225–e233.
  7. Zwickl, S., Wong, A. F. Q., Dowers, E., Leemaqz, S. Y., Bretherton, I., Cook, T., Zajac, J. D., Yip, P. S. F., and Cheung, A. S. (2021). “Factors Associated With Suicide Attempts Among Australian Transgender Adults”. BMC Psychiatry, 21: 81.
  8. McLean, C. (2021). “The growth of the anti-transgender movement in the United Kingdom. The silent radicalization of the British electorate”. International Journal of Sociology, 51: 473–482.
  9. Hines, S. (2020). “Sex wars and (trans) gender panics: Identity and body politics in contemporary UK feminism”. Sociological Review, 68: 699–717.
  10. Maung, H. H. (2024). “Gender affirming hormone treatment for trans adolescents: A four principles analysis”. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.
Updated on February 10, 2024

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