Survey Finds Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Youth Declines From Racism, Anti-Transgender Bills, COVID-19
The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention the for LGBTQ+ community, released a 24-page report that found LGBTQ+ youth have experienced a decline in their mental health because of racism; the anti-transgender bills; and COVID-19 related issues.
The report, “Issues Impacting LGBTQ Youth,” was compiled by polling in conjunction with Morning Consult, a data intelligence company, with a sample of 820 LGBTQ+ aged 13 to 24-years-old interviewed online between Sept. 14 and Nov. 5, 2021. The report estimated the survey, like most surveys, has a margin or error. The Trevor Project estimates this survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Here’s what the survey found.
Overall, LGBTQ+ youth said that racism is the most important issue affecting the world and were almost equally as likely to report racism and LGBTQ+ rights as the most important to them and transgender and non-binary youth were nearly four times likely to report transphobia as the more important issue. Issue prioritization differed in intensity by race and gender identity. For example, Black LGBTQ+ youth were more likely to report racism as the most important issue while their white counterparts were less likely to report racism at the top.
The stress and anxiety levels among Black and white LGBTQ+ youth differed in intensity by topic. For example, Black LGBTQ+ youth, compared to their white counterparts, reported racism, police brutality, and gun violence were at the top of their list. White LGBTQ+ youth, however, reported transphobia, anti-LGBTQ hate-crimes and efforts to restrict access to abortion caused them the most anxiety and stress.
Racism in the United States is not new and Black and Brown individuals have been historically mistreated, abused and discriminated against in the United States. It began when Europeans left Europe, traveled to surrounding countries and developed the idea that whiteness was somehow superior. When the Europeans docked their ships on the North American continent, they brought racism with them and later bought and stole African people from various African countries and forced them into slavery. Slavery in the United States only ended in 1865, a mere 157 years ago. The effects of racism and slavery still exist in the United States today through institutional, individual and systemic racism.
While there are anti-discrimination laws in place in the United States, Black and Brown individuals still experience racism and race-based violence. With the advancement of technology, particularly smartphones with the capability to record video, acts of racism and violence against Black and Brown people have been live streamed and posted on the internet. These videos have put a bright, hot spotlight on racism and the violence against Black and Brown people in the United States and forcing the hand of old, racist ways.
Approximately three quarts of the youth surveyed follow the recent news that effect the transgender community and two-third of the youth have found their mental health has been negatively effects by state laws, both passed and proposed, that restrict the rights of transgender individuals.
“This impact is even more dramatic among transgender and/or non-binary youth,” the report states.
In 2021, the Human Rights Campaign declared 2021 the worst year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation since 2015. “The rights of LGBTQ people — and especially transgender people — across the country are being systematically threatened and undermined by national anti-LGBTQ groups coordinating with anti-equality lawmakers to wage an unprecedented war on the LGBTQ community… These bills are not only harmful and discriminatory, but also represent a failure in our democracy and the commitment elected officials make to protect and serve their constituents,” Human Rights Campaign President, Alphonso David, said in a press release.
A few recent anti-transgender bills include:
Making it a felony to provide transgender youth with life saving health care
Restricting transgender individuals from restrooms and locker rooms that reflect their gender identity
Banning transgender girls from participating in sports
Religious refusal bills
Erasing LGBTQ people from school curriculum
Granting broad licenses to discriminate against LGBTQ people
To see a full scope of anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, please see the Freedom for All Americans tracker
Transgender and non-binary youth are 1.9 times more likely to have difficulty accessing mental healthcare services and and 1.76 times more likely to have difficulty accessing physical healthcare services, compared to their cisgender counterparts, since the beginning of the pandemic.
The lack of proper physical and emotional healthcare services offered and the ability to access those services has always been an issue with the LGBTQ+ community. The inability to access such services also comes down to other factors such as the region an individual lives in and availability of such services; their home environment and the level support they receive; their race (medical racism); the ability to pay or use insurance; etc.
This has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic due to temporary and permanent closures of healthcare facilities; loss of employment; ability to pay; and other factors. The Williams Institute of the Law School at UCLA published its annual report, “2021 Data in Review,” in which it stated: “During the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers in 21 states introduced legislation to ban gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, putting more than 45,000 trans minors at risk of being denied critical care.”
“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,” CEO of The Trevor Project, Amit Paley, said in a statement.
January is a time that states begin legislative sessions and “we will again see gratuitous attacks on trans people, particularly trans youth,” Deputy Director for Transgender Justice at the ACLU, Chase Strangio, tweeted earlier this month.
Editor’s note: “Issues Impacting LGBTQ Youth” was compiled by polling in conjunction with Morning Consult, a data intelligence company, with a sample of 820 LGBTQ+ aged 13 to 24-years-old interviewed online between Sept. 14 and Nov. 5, 2021. The report estimated the survey, like most surveys, has a margin or error. The Trevor Project estimates this survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. For more information and charts, please see the full report. The .PDFs of “Issues Impacting LGBTQ Youth” and “2021 Data in Review” have been added to the bottom of this story for your convenience.