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Right-leaning Facebook pages 2/3 of interactions about trans issues

Content about trans issues from right-leaning pages is considerably more popular on Facebook than content from left-leaning pages



Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Brennan Suen | WASHINGTON – Over the past year, right-leaning news and politics Facebook pages have dominated the conversation on the platform around trans issues — earning almost twice as many interactions (reactions, comments, shares) as ideologically nonaligned and left-leaning pages combined. 

Media Matters reviewed all trans-related Facebook posts from news and politics pages between October 2020 and September 2021 and found that right-leaning pages earned 63% of the total interactions on all posts studied — and this number was even higher when reviewing just the most popular posts (those that earned more than 50,000 interactions).

Right-leaning pages posted 77% of those top posts and earned 82% of interactions on them. Additionally, 43% of the most popular posts from all pages were about trans athletes, and they earned 48% of interactions in that set. Posts also often discussed President Joe Biden’s policies, students and schools, state legislation, and health care for trans youth.

This imbalance is part of a years-long pattern in which the right consistently earns the bulk of Facebook engagement when discussing trans issues, often spreading misinformation and bigotry, all while lying that it is being censored by social media companies.

  • Conservative media are using Facebook to help spread anti-trans narratives around health care and student athletes
  • The right’s relentless attacks on trans people are part of a political strategy to inflame “culture war” topics — including trans issues and “critical race theory” — ahead of midterm elections. This dangerous campaign, which is being waged through conservative news outlets and on social media, has created an environment in which educators and school officials are now being threatened for passing pro-LGBTQ policies or working to advance racial equity in schools, placing kids, families, and educators at risk.
  • During this same time period, a record number of states have introduced and passed legislation targeting the trans community, particularly trans youth, by restricting their access to lifesaving health care and their ability to participate in school sports teams that align with their gender identity. These topics have also been common obsessions on Fox News, which aired 54 segments mentioning trans athletes and 15 mentioning health care for trans people in less than two months after President Joe Biden took office.
  • The spread of bigoted content and misinformation on Facebook has been a key component of the right’s efforts to promote these bills. And the measures address problems that don’t actually exist — trans athletes are not dominating girls and women’s sports, for instance, and trans children are not undergoing surgery. Yet posts from right-leaning pages about both topics thrive on Facebook; our review found that 43% of posts about trans issues that earned at least 50,000 interactions were about trans athletes, and 11% were about health care for trans youth.
  • Key findings
    • From October 2020 through September 2021, right-leaning Facebook pages related to news and politics posted about trans issues more often, earned more total interactions, and earned more average interactions than either nonaligned or left-leaning pages.
      • Right-leaning Facebook pages earned 60.1 million interactions (63%) across more than 16,000 posts.
      • Ideologically nonaligned pages earned 18.6 million interactions (20%) across more than 12,000 posts.
      • Left-leaning pages earned 16.1 million interactions (17%) across nearly 6,000 posts.
    • Media Matters identified 235 posts about trans issues that earned at least 50,000 interactions apiece to analyze which topics were most common among top content.
      • We found that right-leaning pages accounted for 39 out of the top 40 posts.
      • Right-leaning pages accounted for 77% of the top 235 posts and 82% of the 26.5 million total interactions earned on these top posts.
      • Of those 235 top posts, 101 (43%) were about trans athletes, earning 12.8 million interactions (48%). Additionally, 58 of the posts were about state legislation (25%), with Florida (20) and Arkansas (11) the most common states discussed. These posts earned 8.7 million interactions — one-third of the total for all posts with more than 50,000 interactions. 
      • Other topics frequently mentioned in the top posts were students and schools, including pronoun and bathroom use, health care for trans youth, Biden’s policies, Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, and the Equality Act.
    • The top 8 news and politics pages earning the most Facebook interactions on trans-related posts were all right-leaning.
      • The top page was Ben Shapiro’s, which earned 11.7 million interactions on its related posts. Other top pages included those for Franklin Graham, Breitbart, Fox News, and Dan Bongino. 
      • CNN and NPR, the only ideologically nonaligned outlets in the top 10 pages, earned 1.3 and 1.2 million interactions, respectively.
      • Right-wing media outlet The Daily Wire was the most frequently shared domain in trans-related posts, with 3,204 posts linking to the outlet and earning over 13.6 million interactions. The Daily Wire’s network of Facebook pages helped amplify the domain.
  • Right-leaning pages posting about trans issues earned nearly twice the interactions of ideologically nonaligned and left-leaning pages combined
  • Facebook interactions on all trans-related posts by page ideology
  • Right-leaning Facebook pages related to news and politics posted about trans issues more often, earned more total interactions, and earned more average interactions than either nonaligned or left-leaning pages. Right-leaning pages earned 60.1 million interactions on trans-related posts, or 63% of all interactions, while nonaligned pages earned 18.6 million interactions (20%) and left-leaning pages earned 16.1 million interactions (17%). This means that posts on right-leaning pages earned nearly twice as many interactions as nonaligned and left-leaning pages combined.
  • Number of Facebook posts about trans issues by page ideology
  • Right-leaning Facebook pages made more than 16,000 posts about trans issues, compared to over 12,000 from nonaligned pages and nearly 6,000 from left-leaning pages. All in all, right-leaning pages made 47% of Facebook posts about trans issues but earned nearly two-thirds of all interactions.
  • On average, posts about trans issues on right-leaning pages earned roughly 3,700 interactions each; posts on nonaligned pages earned over 1,500 interactions each; and posts on left-leaning pages earned about 2,700 interactions each.
  • Right-leaning pages made 77% of the Facebook posts about trans issues that earned at least 50,000 interactions, and trans athletes were the most popular topic
  • Interactions on trans-related posts earning at least 50,000 interactions by page ideology
  • Media Matters compiled all Facebook posts about trans issues that earned 50,000 interactions or more and found 235, which earned 26.5 million combined interactions. Right-leaning pages posted 180 (77%) of those posts and earned 28.1 million interactions (82%) on them — meaning they were even more overrepresented among top-performing content than among the total examined posts. In fact, content from right-leaning pages made up 39 of the top 40 posts overall
  • Trans-related posts earning at least 50,000 interactions by page ideology
  • Ideologically nonaligned pages made 17 (7%) of the posts, earning 1.4 million interactions (5%), and left-leaning pages made 38 (16%) of the posts and earned 3.4 million interactions (13%). 

Of the top 235 posts relating to trans issues, 101 (43%) were about trans athletes, earning 12.8 million interactions (48%); 28 (12%) were about students and schools, including posts about pronoun and bathroom use but excluding those exclusively about trans athletes (which are counted in the trans-athletes category), earning 3.6 million interactions (14%); and 25 (11%) were about health care for trans people, earning 3.3 million interactions (12%).

Additionally, 58 of the top posts were about state legislation, earning 8.6 million interactions (33%). Legislation in Florida (20) and Arkansas (11) were most commonly discussed.

There were 39 posts about Biden policies, earning 4.4 million interactions (17%); 17 posts about Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, earning 1.2 million interactions (5%); and 7 posts about the Equality Act, earning 1 million interactions (4%).

Right-leaning pages made up the top eight pages by interactions, and The Daily Wire was the most shared domain

The top eight news and politics-related Facebook pages earning the most interactions on all trans-related posts were all right-leaning pages, with Ben Shapiro earning the most interactions (11.7 million) and Franklin Graham earning the second most interactions (6.4 million). The ninth and tenth pages earning the most interactions were ideologically nonaligned outlets CNN (1.3 million interactions) and NPR (1.2 million interactions).The following are the top 10 pages by interactions:

Ben Shapiro, 11.7 million interactions.

Franklin Graham, 6.4 million interactions.

Breitbart, 3.7 million interactions.

Fox News, 2.5 million interactions.

Dan Bongino, 2 million interactions.

Michael Knowles, 1.7 million interactions.

Glenn Beck, 1.3 million interactions.

The Western Journal, 1.3 million interactions.

CNN, 1.3 million interactions.

NPR, 1.2 million interactions.Though the official page for The Daily Wire was 12th in our rankings, its content was the most linked to in trans-related posts. In fact, the outlet was linked to in 3,204 Facebook posts, which earned 13.6 million interactions, and its spread was aided by the pages for Daily Wire personalities Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles, Matt Walsh, and Andrew Klavan — all of which are part of the Daily Wire’s large network of coordinated Facebook pages that amplify its content. The network’s other pages, including Donald Trump is My President, Restless Patriot, Conservative News, and The Angry Patriot, also shared the outlet’s articles.

Once again, Facebook has proved to be an unsafe place for LGBTQ people

This is not the first time that Media Matters has found that content about trans issues from right-leaning pages is considerably more popular on Facebook than content from ideologically nonaligned or left-leaning pages. In 2020, we did a study of published online content shared on the platform — as opposed to posts — and found similar results:

We looked at 225 pieces of high-performing content on trans topics — articles, blog posts, videos — which earned a combined total of nearly 66 million interactions on Facebook. Content about trans people and related topics from right-leaning sources constituted 65.7% of those interactions. Comparatively, 15.4% of all interactions were earned by content from queer sources, 3.9% from left-leaning sources, 10.4% from nonaligned sources, and 4.6% from “other” sources.

Despite this pattern, conservatives have long lied that Facebook is biased against them, even though their posts have consistently earned more interactions than those of ideologically nonaligned and left-leaning pages on topics such as immigration, so-called “critical race theory,” and Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing, to name a few.

Earlier this year, GLAAD released its Social Media Safety Index, “the first-ever baseline evaluation of the LGBTQ user safety experience across the social media landscape.” One of its most urgent recommendations was for platforms to “stop allowing algorithms to fuel extremism and hate” and “confront the problem of bias in AI which disproportionately impacts LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities.” GLAAD notes that “currently, social media algorithms tend to push people further into silos of experience, sending them ever deeper into echo chambers” that can amplify hateful content — “a phenomenon that is well-documented by both researchers and journalists.”

Our latest findings only further demonstrate this pattern and reinforce the need for Facebook to take action against the intense spread of transphobia on its platform.


Media Matters searched Facebook posts using CrowdTangle from 1,773 Facebook pages that frequently posted about U.S. politics from October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021.Of those 1,773 pages, we identified 771 right-leaning pages, 497 ideologically nonaligned pages, and 505 left-leaning pages. For an explanation of how we compiled the pages and identified them as right-leaning, left-leaning, or ideologically nonaligned, see the methodology here.

We then compiled all posts from these 1,773 Facebook pages that we determined to be about trans issues.

We defined posts as being related to or about trans issues if a post had any of the following terms in the message, the included link, article headline, or article description: “trans kid,” “trans kids,” “trans child,” “trans children,” “trans boy,” “trans boys,” “trans girl,” “trans girls,” “trans man,” “trans men,” “trans woman,” “trans women,” “trans female,” “trans male,” “transgender,” “transgenders,” “transgenderism,” “gender transition,” “gender identity,” “biological male,” “biological man,” “biological woman,” “biological boy,” “biological girl,” “biological female,” “women’s sports,” “girls’ sports,” “biological women,” “biological men,” “puberty blockers,” “chemical castration,” “irreversible procedures,” “irreversible surgery,” “irreversible surgeries,” “detransition,” “detransitioner,” “gender reassignment,” “hormone replacement,” “sex change,” “sex reassignment.”

We then reviewed the total interactions — reactions, comments, and shares — for the resulting 34,139 posts.

For each post with over 50,000 interactions, the subject of the post was independently coded by two researchers. When there was a discrepancy, the researchers assigned a final code by consensus. We removed one unrelated post, bringing the total to 235 posts with more than 50,000 interactions included in the final analysis. These posts were coded for whether the posts mentioned one or more of the following topics in their text, image, or headline: trans athletes; Biden policies; the Equality Act; health care for trans people or youth; Dr. Rachel Levine; legislation in the states (and which states); or students or schools, including posts about pronoun use and bathrooms but not including posts that discussed only trans athletes in schools.


Brennan Suen is the LGBTQ program director at Media Matters, where he has worked since July 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, and he formerly interned at the Human Rights Campaign and SKDKnickerbocker.

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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Tech companies failing to stop dangerous conversion therapy disinfo

According to the report, “rainbow-washing” particularly aims at the trans community for conversion to cisgender identities



Max Huskins/Los Angeles Blade graphic

MONTGOMERY, Al. – Anti-LGBTQ groups “easily” spread dangerous disinformation online about the so-called conversion therapy as tech companies fail to de-platform such content, especially in non-English languages, according to two reports from the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE).

The reports detail that even though conversion therapy is a widely condemned practice, content related it is “distressingly easy” to find through simple searches on various platforms. 

Though searches in English yielded problematic results, GPAHE found that non-English languages, especially Swahili in Kenya, led to much more anti-LGBTQ disinformation. 

“Tech companies say they have taken steps to ban harmful content related to conversion therapy, but they have to do more, especially in non-English languages,” said Wendy Via, president and co-founder of GPAHE and co-author of the report.

The group’s research took place in English and Spanish in the U.S., English in Ireland and Australia, German in Germany, Spanish in Colombia, and English and Swahili in Kenya.

Conversion therapy has been condemned by dozens of medical and psychological organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA), which also supports a nationwide ban on conversion therapy. 

According to the Williams Institute, LGB people who have undergone conversion therapy are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide. 

Conversion therapy is banned for minors and sometimes adults in seven countries: Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Germany, Malta, France and Taiwan. Both France and Canada outlawed the debunked practice just last month. 

The U.S. has no nationwide ban, but conversion therapy is outlawed in 20 states and more than 100 municipalities in the nation. Partial bans also exist in Mexico, Australia, and Spain.

“Until online searches lead people to only authoritative information about the dangers of conversion therapy, tech companies are complicit in spreading anti-LGBTQ+ hate and disinformation that causes mental and physical harm for individuals, and furthers societal harm,” said Via. 

Generally, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and, to some extent, YouTube have taken steps to curtail conversion therapy information, according to GPAHE’s first report “Conversion Therapy Online: The Ecosystem.” When the group searched the term “conversion therapy” on these platforms, they mostly found trustworthy information, except in Swahili. 

However, in comparing social media platforms, the group found that YouTube’s search mechanism returns disinformation and propaganda more frequently than Facebook or Twitter. GPAHE also said the platform is “rife” with pro-conversion therapy material. 

Alphabet Inc., the company that owns YouTube, did not immediately return a request for comment. 

The company has come under fire in the past for policies surrounding conversion therapy. In 2019, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) revoked its enforcement of Google over an app tied to conversion therapy. At the time, other major companies – like Apple and Amazon – removed the app. 

Google eventually removed the app. “After consulting with outside advocacy groups, reviewing our policies, and making sure we had a thorough understanding of the app and its relation to conversion therapy, we’ve decided to remove it from the Play Store, consistent with other app stores,” the company said in a statement to Axios

Though initial search mechanisms generally didn’t lead researchers to conversion therapy providers, Facebook and Twitter’s algorithms did lead users down a dangerous conversion therapy “rabbit hole” once they found a provider, the report found.

The Blade could not reach Meta (Facebook) and Twitter for comment. 

Last year, a Reuters report detailed how even though Facebook banned conversion therapy, the debunked practice continued to thrive in Arabic. 

“Facebook led me to conversion therapy, and I’m not alone,” said Omar, an Egyptian man who turned to Facebook when he began feeling sexually attracted to other men. He requested Reuters use only his first name because he has not yet come out to his family. 

Though GPAHE’s report did not study Arabic languages, it did find that languages other than English yielded more harmful search results. 

In all languages and countries, GPAHE found that search results from Microsoft’s Bing and Amazon’s Silk and Alexa were “significantly less authoritative.”

“These companies are rarely, if ever, challenged on their search algorithms despite serving hundreds of millions of people worldwide,” the release said. 

GPAHE suggested that Bing and Silk create search algorithms that surface authoritative information. In addition, Amazon should remove conversion therapy providers from the Smile program, the group said.

Both Microsoft and Amazon did not immediately return requests for comment. 

Amazon has had a checkered past with anti-LGBTQ content, especially on its web store. However, the company did stop selling books prompting conversion therapy in 2019.

“It’s time for the major internet and social media companies to wake up to their role in promoting harmful practices and disinformation,” the report read. “Conversion therapy is dangerous. If someone is searching for this material on any internet platform, they should only find authoritative results that document the therapy’s harms.” 

The group also found a “highly problematic” difference between results in English and Swahili in Kenya. Search results in English led to a mix of trustworthy and false information, while results in Swahil lead to material that disparages and mocks LGBTQ+ people and calls conversion therapy repuatable. 

“Even the Wikipedia page in Swahili in Kenya is filled with hateful disinformation,” a GPAHE press release read. 

German search results yielded mostly accurate information about conversion therapy. The group said this was likely due to Germany’s conversion therapy ban and strict hate speech laws. 

“Unlike what GPAHE found in most other countries and languages, Google searches in German for various conversion therapy terms came up almost entirely with authoritative results,” the report read.

However, the group did find one exception in searching “reintegrative therapie.” The search term populated, a conversion therapy provider, in all of the first four results. But mostly trustworthy information follows. 

Using terms such as “reintegrative therapy” or “unwanted same-sex attraction” is a common way for conversion therapy providers and proponests to evade safeguards and prompt their content. According to the GPAHE report, such search terms led almost exclusively to unauthoritative and harmful disinformation.

GPAHE suggested that tech companies incorporate the terms “same-sex attraction” and “reintegrative therapy” into the algorithms to increase reliable and safe results.

Another method conversion therapy supporters use is hiding behind a so-called religious imperative or claiming that they are protecting kids, the report said. 

“As conversion therapy providers constantly rebrand their malicious efforts and introduce new terms, tech companies need to keep up to protect their users,” said Via.

GPAHE has sent its report to tech companies and will follow up with each over the coming months. 

GPAHE added that it “hopes that the report will help tech platforms flag or ban harmful material and serve as an additional authoritative resource for those who search for these organizations or conversion therapy information in general.”

Many of the world’s most surfaced conversion therapy providers were detailed in the group’s second report, “Conversion Therapy Online: The Players.” GPAHE specifically laid out 25 organizations and their “sophisticated and extensive” online presence.

The report found that these providers are interconnected and are essentially composed of three major networks: the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity, Core Issues Trust and Exodus Global Alliance. 

These groups have moved into the space, rebranding in a process known as “rainbow-washing,” where they claim to be “friends of the LGBTQ+ community” and feature “younger, hipper, more diverse faces,” according to GPAHE. The groups say they are “victimized by modern society,” co-opting ​​the “language of the LGBTQ+ rights movement to assert liberation for what they call the X-LGBT community.”

According to the report, “rainbow-washing” particularly aims at the trans community for conversion to cisgender identities.

“In recent years, proposed bans on conversion therapy have motivated providers to organize and up their legislative and litigation games,” the report read. “Their activities are bolstered and promoted by powerful social conservative organizations and relatively new X-LGBT groups, such as the Changed Movement, in various countries.”

Of the 25 groups named by GPAHE, 13 were based in the U.S., the most of any country. The states they were located in included Utah, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky, California, Missouri, Connecticut, Tennessee and Michigan. 

Other top conversion therapy organizations were located in Northern Ireland, Brasil, Mexico, Germany, England, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway. Others did not have a specific location listed. 

In addition to websites, many of the groups were also on Facebook. Some of the anti-LGBTQ organizations were also on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

“Getting rid of this harmful material online is an important step toward creating a society where LGBTQ+ people are accepted and loved and nobody feels like they want or need to change who they are,” said Heidi Beirich, report co-author and co-founder of GPAHE. “No more hate. That’s the overall goal.”

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UCLA-led advances toward possible cure for HIV

“The study opens a new paradigm for a possible HIV cure in the future”



Royce Hall University of California, Los Angeles (Photo via UCLA)

LOS ANGELES – A UCLA-led team of researchers made advancements in a method designed to kill HIV-infected cells, moving scientists a step closer to possibly eliminating the virus altogether, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications

“These findings show proof-of-concept for a therapeutic strategy to potentially eliminate HIV from the body, a task that had been nearly insurmountable for many years,” said Dr. Jocelyn Kim, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “The study opens a new paradigm for a possible HIV cure in the future.”

HIV, which was once considered a death sentence, has become manageable in recent years with antiretroviral medication designed to keep the virus at bay. 

However, the virus still has the chance to elude the treatment by lying dormant in cells, according to UCLA. When a person stops taking the medication, the virus emerges from those reservoirs and replicates in the body.

The study builds on a “kick and kill” method originally developed in 2017. The approach uses cells naturally produced by the immune system to kill infected cells inside the body, according to Kim, assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

In the 2017 study, researchers gave mice whose immune systems had been altered to mimic those of humans antiretroviral drugs and infected them with HIV. They then administered a synthetic compound developed at Stanford University to activate the mice’s dormant HIV. The study found that up to 25% of the previously dormant cells died within 24 hours.

“But a more effective way to kill those cells was needed,” read the release. 

HIV in bloodstream courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This time around, the researchers used the compound to “flush” HIV-infected cells out of hiding. Then, the mice were injected with healthy natural killer cells to kill the infected cells.

The new combination improved the numbers, completely clearing the HIV in 40% of the mice, according to the study. 

As an additional step, the researchers also analyzed the mice’s spleens, a place where HIV-infected cells could be hiding. Yet, they did not detect the virus there, suggesting that the HIV-infected cells were eliminated. 

The team’s goal is to refine the approach to eliminate HIV in 100% of the mice. 

“We will also be moving this research toward preclinical studies in nonhuman primates with the ultimate goal of testing the same approach in humans,” Kim said. 

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 38 million people are currently living with HIV. Since the virus began circulating, over 36 million people have died from complications due to the disease. 

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New poll illustrates impacts of social & political issues on LGBTQ+ youth

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 63% of LGBTQ youth, including 71% of transgender and nonbinary youth, feel scared about the future



Los Angeles Blade graphic via The Trevor Project

NEW YORK – The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ+) youth, released a new poll Monday that underscores the impacts of politics and current events on the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ+ young people.

85% of transgender and nonbinary youth say that recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health. 

For LGBTQ+ youth, racism is the “most important” issue impacting the world; more than 65% also say issues like anti- LGBTQ+ hate crimes, police brutality, gun violence, climate change, and efforts to restrict abortion access often give them stress and anxiety. 

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 63% of LGBTQ+ youth, including 71% of transgender and nonbinary youth, feel scared about the future.

The poll was conducted by Morning Consult between September 14-November 5, 2021 among a national sample of 820 LGBTQ+ youth ages 13–24, including 318 transgender and nonbinary youth and 340 LGBTQ+ youth of color, 56% of whom are Black. The full polling data can be found here.

“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,” said Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project. “It’s clear that lawmakers should be taking an intersectional approach to public policy, not working overtime to target the most marginalized young people, particularly those who are transgender or nonbinary, for partisan political points. We all must play a role in promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance and creating a more supportive world for all young people.”

85% of transgender and nonbinary youth—and two-thirds of all LGBTQ+ youth (66%)—say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. A record number of anti-transgender bills were introduced and passed across the country in 2021, and transgender and nonbinary youth are experiencing a range of negative emotions as a result:

  • New policies that will ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams and transgender boys from playing on boys’ sports teams make 74% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 57% feel sad, 43% feel stressed, and nearly 1 in 3 feel scared.
  • Proposed legislation that would ban doctors from prescribing gender-affirming medical care like puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy to transgender and nonbinary youth make 73% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 57% feel sad, 47% feel stressed, 40% feel scared, and more than 1 in 3 feel hopeless, helpless, and/or nervous.
  • Proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ+ at school make 56% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 47% feel nervous and/or scared, 45% feel stressed, and more than 1 in 3 feel sad.

When asked in an open response question—“what social issue impacting our country/world is the most important to you?”—most LGBTQ+ youth across race/ethnicity and gender identity stated racism, followed by LGBTQ+ rights/equality, climate change, and homophobia. Then when provided a list of issues to measure sources of stress and anxiety, a majority of LGBTQ+ youth said that anti- LGBTQ+ hate crimes (58%) and homophobia (56%) give them stress and anxiety “very often,” followed by not having enough money (50%) and racism (49%). Overall, more than 65% of LGBTQ+ youth also stated that police brutality, transphobia, gun violence, climate change, and efforts to restrict abortion access often give them stress and anxiety. 

Additional key findings include:

  • Amid the COVID-19 pandemic,  LGBTQ+ youth reported high rates of feeling scared about the future (63%), having anxiety about in-person learning (46%), and feeling stressed (50%) and nervous (40%) about the 2021-2022 school year. Transgender and nonbinary youth disproportionately reported (53%) having difficulty getting mental health care compared to cisgender LGBQ youth (28%) and the overall sample (39%). More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ youth said they struggle to afford the things they need.
  • Unprompted, most LGBTQ+ youth said that racism is the most important issue impacting the world. However, issue prioritization differed in intensity by race and gender identity. Black LGBTQ+ youth were significantly more likely to report racism as the most important issue to them while white LGBTQ+ youth were almost equally as likely to report racism as LGBTQ+ rights as the most important issue to them. Moreover, transgender and nonbinary youth were nearly four times more likely to cite transphobia as the most important issue to them.
  • When provided with the list of issues, four in five transgender and nonbinary youth reported that anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, homophobia, transphobia, police brutality, and racism often give them stress or anxiety—a rate significantly higher than that of their cisgender peers. Black LGBTQ+ youth were disproportionately more likely to report that racism (16%), police brutality (15%), and gun violence (9%) cause them stress/anxiety “very often.” Conversely, white LGBTQ+ youth were more likely to report that transphobia (13%), anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes (11%), and efforts to restrict abortion access (10%) cause them stress/anxiety “very often.”

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at, or by texting START to 678678. 

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