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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

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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 TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

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New study on resilience & mental health among LGBTQ youth

LGBTQ youth with high resilience had 59% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt- 69% lower odds of considering suicide in the past year

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

NEW YORK – The Trevor Project observing the 53rd anniversary of the riots at the Stonewall Inn that sparked a greater movement for LGBTQ+ rights and equality this week, released new data that examines resilience and mental health among LGBTQ youth.

“As we celebrate Pride Month and commemorate the Stonewall Riots, there is often discussion of the ‘resilience’ of the LGBTQ community and the ways in which members are able to bounce back in the face of adversity. These data highlight the fact that resilience is not just an admirable quality – but one that can be associated with improved mental health among LGBTQ youth,” said Dr. Jonah DeChants, Research Scientist at The Trevor Project.

“Higher resilience in our sample was consistently associated with better mental health outcomes including decreased risk for anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts in the past year among LGBTQ youth. Moving forward, we should invest further research into understanding how LGBTQ youth can successfully develop high resilience. Additionally, we should work to dismantle systems of oppression and implement LGBTQ-inclusive anti-discrimination protections  so that LGBTQ youth are not required to possess resilience to excel and thrive.” 

Key Findings:

  • LGBTQ youth with high resilience had 59% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt, and 69% lower odds of considering suicide in the past year, compared to LGBTQ youth with low resilience. 
  • LGBTQ youth with high resilience reported 81% lower odds  of anxiety symptoms, compared to LGBTQ youth with low resilience. 
  • LGBTQ youth with  high resilience reported 79% lower odds of recent depression, compared to LGBTQ youth with low resilience. 
  • LGBTQ youth who have supportive families and  are in supportive environments have higher resilience.
  • LGBTQ youth ages 18 to 24 reported significantly higher resilience than LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 17. 

Read the report:

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Research/Study

150 people on Tennessee’s sex offender registry for HIV-related conviction

Nearly one-half of HIV registrants on the SOR were women and over three-quarters of HIV registrants were Black

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – At least 154 people have been placed on Tennessee’s sex offender registry (SOR) for an HIV-related conviction since 1993, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Enforcement of HIV crimes in Tennessee disproportionately affects women and Black people. Nearly one-half of HIV registrants on the SOR were women and over three-quarters of HIV registrants were Black.

Tennessee’s two primary HIV criminalization laws—aggravated prostitution and criminal exposure—make it a felony for people living with HIV to engage in sex work or other activities, such as intimate contact, blood donation, or needle exchange, without disclosing their status. Both are considered a “violent sexual offense” and require a person convicted to register as a sex offender for life.

Examining Tennessee’s sex offender registry, researchers found that Shelby County, home to Memphis, accounts for most of the state’s HIV convictions. Shelby County makes up only 13% of Tennessee’s population and 37% of the population of people living with HIV in the state, but 64% of HIV registrants on the SOR. Moreover, while Black Tennesseans were only 17% of the state’s population and 56% of people living with HIV in the state, 75% of all HIV registrants were Black.

In Shelby County, 91% of aggravated prostitution convictions resulted from police sting operations in which no physical contact ever occurred. In addition, the case files showed that 75% of those convicted were Black women. When it came to criminal exposure case files, all of those convicted except one person were Black men.

“Tennessee’s HIV criminal laws were enacted at a time when little was known about HIV and before modern medical advances were available to treat and prevent HIV,” said lead author Nathan Cisneros, HIV Criminalization Analyst at the Williams Institute. “Tennessee’s outdated laws do not require actual transmission or the intent to transmit HIV. Moreover, the laws ignore whether the person living with HIV is in treatment and virally suppressed and therefore cannot transmit HIV.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Incarcerating people for HIV-related offenses has cost Tennessee at least $3.8 million.
  • Of the 154 people who have been placed on Tennessee’s SOR for an HIV-related conviction, 51% were convicted of aggravated prostitution, 46% were convicted of criminal exposure, and 3% were convicted of both.
  • Women account for 26% of people living with HIV in Tennessee and 4% of people on the SOR, but 46% of the SOR’s HIV registrants.
  • Black people account for 17% of people living in Tennessee, 56% of those living with HIV, 27% of people on the SOR, but 75% of the SOR’s HIV registrants.
  • Black women were the majority of aggravated prostitution registrants (57%), while Black men were the majority of criminal exposure registrants (64%).
  • People with an HIV-related offense are more economically vulnerable when compared to others on the state’s SOR.
    • One in five (19%) HIV registrants were homeless compared to 9% of all SOR registrants.
    • 28% of HIV registrants reported an employer address compared to about half (49%) of all SOR registrants.
  • Shelby County has one aggravated prostitution conviction for every 115 people living with HIV in the county, and Black people were 90% of all people convicted for aggravated prostitution.
    • Over 90% of aggravated prostitution convictions in Shelby County were the result of police sting operations.
    • Only 3% of aggravated prostitution convictions in Shelby County alleged any intimate contact.
    • Nearly all (95%) people arrested in Shelby County for criminal exposure were Black men, compared to 64% of people statewide.  

The Williams Institute has conducted research on HIV criminalization in numerous U.S. states.

Read the report

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Research/Study

New Pew Research Center poll: Americans at odds over Trans issues 

Strong majorities favor non-discrimination protections but weaker support for access to transition-related care among minors

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Texas trans activist Landon Richie speaking at Texas Capitol against trans youth sports bill (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

WASHINGTON – A new survey from a leading non-partisan research center reveals Americans have mixed views on transgender issues at a time when states are moving forward with measures against transgender youth, with strong majorities favoring non-discrimination protections but weaker support for access to transition-related care among minors and participation in school sports.

The Pew Research Center issued the findings on Tuesday as part of the results of its ongoing study to better understand Americans’ views about gender identity and people who are transgender or non-binary. The findings are based on a survey of 10,188 U.S. adults from data collected as part of a larger survey conducted May 16-22.

A majority of respondents by wide margins favor non-discrimination protections for transgender people. A full 64 percent back laws or policies that would protect transgender people from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public spaces, while roughly 8-in-10 acknowledge transgender people face at least some discrimination in our society.

Additionally, nearly one half of Americans say it’s extremely important to use a transgender person’s new name after they undergo a transition, while an additional 22 percent say that is somewhat important. A smaller percentage, 34 percent, say using a transgender person’s pronouns is extremely important, and 21 percent say it is somewhat important.

But other findings were less supportive:

  • 60 percent say a person’s gender is determined by sex assigned at birth, reflecting an increase from 56 percent in 2021 and 54 percent in 2017, compared to 38 percent who say gender can be different from sex assigned at birth.
  • 54 percent say society has either gone too far or been about right in terms of acceptance, underscoring an ambivalence around transgender issues even among those who see at least some discrimination against transgender people.
  • About six-in-ten adults, or 58 precent, favor proposals that would require transgender athletes to compete on teams that match the sex they were assigned at birth as opposed to teams consistent with their gender identity, compared to 17 percent who oppose that and 24 percent neither favor nor oppose it.
  • 46 percent favor making it illegal for health care professionals to provide transition-related care, such as hormones or gender reassignment surgery, to someone younger than 18, compared to 31 percent who oppose it.
  • Americans are more evenly split when it comes to making it illegal for public school districts to teach about gender identity in elementary schools (which is favored by 41 percent, and opposed by 38 percent) and investigating parents for child abuse if they help someone younger than 18 obtain transition-related care (37 percent are in favor and 36 percent oppose it).

Young adults took the lead in terms of supporting change and acceptance. Half of adults ages 18 to 29 say someone can be a man or a woman even if that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, compared to about four-in-10 of those ages 30 to 49 and about one-third of respondents 50 and older.

Predictably, stark differences could be found along party lines. Democrats by 59 precent say society hasn’t gone far enough in accepting people who are transgender, while 15 percent say it has gone too far and 24 percent say it’s been about right. For Republicans, 10 percent say society hasn’t gone far enough, while 66 percent say it’s gone too far and 22 percent say it’s been about right.

Read the full report here.

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