How To Actually Decrease Trans Suicide Rates

Not only do we need inclusive & universal health care, we also need social respect… now.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Trigger Warning: Suicide & Ideation

m transgender. I’ve attempted suicide. I struggle with depression that leads to suicidal ideation most of the time. In fact, I just got out of a psych ward two weeks ago. At the time of this writing, it’s National Suicide Prevention Month. The advice spread around typically goes, “check on your friends; call a hotline if you need it.” While that advice is worth sharing, we need to do way more to decrease transgender suicide rates. We need inclusive health care, universal health care, and social respect.

Why I Attempted Suicide

I could cite statistics and studies that illustrate that 48.1% of transgender youth have attempted suicide (compared to 13.3% of general population).

I could talk about how respecting someone’s chosen name and correct pronouns decreases the risk of a suicide attempt.

I could ramble for days about how we need to remove gendering at birth and how the medical community needs to remove their bias against transgender people.

But instead of deep diving into any of that, I want to talk about why I, as a transgender individual, attempted.

My suicide note began with “I’ll never become her…” and then directed people to check their email. I had scheduled an email to send out in two weeks that explained how I felt like I was born in the wrong body.

I felt defective.

I felt like I had to become the image of a perfect woman in order to be accepted by society.

I felt overwhelmed, as I couldn’t afford the surgeries, therapy and hormones required to match how I felt internally to how I looked externally.

I felt that even if I completely transitioned, society would never accept me as the woman I am.

So, I drove into the desert and attempted to overdose on two months’ worth of psych meds.

It didn’t work. A friend found my note, the cops were called, a search was conducted, and they found me 16 hours later.

To be clear, at the time of my attempt, most of my friends and family knew I was transgender. They respected my name and pronouns. Nobody told me off when I came out. I was accepted by all.

Yet, I felt enormous pressure, and even greater fear.

The pressure was that I had to become cis passing before being accepted, which felt like an enormous task that I couldn’t even afford.

Fear came from society at large. As someone who is moderately active in the transgender online community, it seems like every day I hear about the murder of a transgender person. Someone who was walking down the street; someone who was flirtatious at a bar; someone who was on public transit.

So, not only did I need to be cis passing before being correctly gendered, but without blending in perfectly I could be murdered at any point.

It’s a terrifying prospect.

How My Attempt Could’ve Been Prevented

Here’s how we, as a society, could’ve prevented my attempt:

  • Accept that all transgender people are valid, regardless of how well they pass as cis
  • Treat violence against transgender people as a hate crime
  • Dismantle the bias in the medical community
  • Create accessible medical and psychiatric care for trans and queer people
  • Represent transgender people appropriately in media

Yes, I’m asking for a lot. That’s how bad it is.

My suicide attempt wasn’t the result of individual bigotry against me, but a result of the widespread bigotry against us as a community.

You Can Help Improve Our Lives — and Prevent Our Deaths

Society needs to respect trans people, now.

We are not punchlines.
We are not inferior.
We are not defective.

We are just like you. The only difference is that our gender does not match the gender we were assigned at birth. That’s it.

Cis people, start respecting transgender peoples’ pronouns. Start using our chosen names. Defend trans people when trans people aren’t around.

You can help decrease the suicide rates among the transgender community. All it will cost you is being a decent human being.