Respecting self-identification matters.
When trans youths are allowed to use their chosen name, their risk of depression and suicide drops.
This is according to a study – authored by Stephen T. Russell, Amanda M. Pollitt, Gu Li and Arnold H. Grossman – that appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
“Many kids who are transgender have chosen a name that is different than the one that they were given at birth,” author Russell was quoted as saying. “We showed that the more contexts or settings where they were able to use their preferred name, the stronger their mental health was.”
For this study, 129 youths were interviewed in three US cities, one each in the Northeast, the Southwest and the West Coast. These transgender youths, aged 15 to 21, were asked whether young people could use their chosen name at school, home, work and with friends.
Compared with peers who could not use their chosen name in any context, young people who could use their name in all four areas experienced 71% fewer symptoms of severe depression; this is 34% lower than reported thoughts of suicide and 65% lower than those who committed suicidal attempts.
“It’s practical to support young people in using the name that they choose. It’s respectful and developmentally appropriate,” Russell ended.
The research was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and supported by the UT Population Research Center and a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.