Hey everyone, hope you’re all good.
It’s come to my attention in the past few months of being online around many different sides and viewpoints on trans issues, that the anti-trans crowd has got to be the most misinformed I’ve ever seen. They often bring up the 40% suicide statistics and a Swedish study preformed in 2011 on the mental health and quality of life of post op transsexuals long term. Now with all that packaged up in a nice little bag of transphobia and fear mongering it can look pretty convincing, so today I hope to break this argument about suicide rates down and get to the truth of the matter.
So first let’s take a look at where this 40% rate comes from, most who are promoting the idea that transition doesn’t help often quote the William’s institute study in which these suicide statistics arise, there have been several revisions since then and the study has now been renamed to the national transgender discrimination survey. First this survey isn’t looking at suicide rates nor even current suicide attempt rates, the survey in question is looking at lifetime suicide attempts which can rage from anywhere pre-transition or post-transition, take me for example I had attempted suicide pre-transition if I was asked if I had attempted suicide before in my life I’d say yes. But now? All suicidal thoughts I’ve had are all but gone, so basically there could’ve been a number of people like me who answered yes to the question of have they attempted suicide in their lifetime.
To put this into perspective I will quote some points the study itself made about the findings and explain my thoughts and reasoning about why the assumptions of those using this study to prove their point are at best misguided or at worst downright lying to further their agenda.
This table talks about lifetime suicide rates by responses about transition-health care, at first it may seem like the group who got all the treatments commit suicide attempts at a very high rate even after treatment. But if you refer to what is stated above this table, you’ll see where this assumption is wrong.
What it is saying is the lifetime suicide attempts of each group, its no surprise the more dysphoric group(those who opt for all transition treatment.) would’ve felt suicidal or attempted suicide at one point in their lives pre-transition as it is expected that suicidal behaviour would be high pre-transition.
The survey was to just gather data on lifetime suicide attempts at any time so basically the timing of suicide attempts is unknown it is simply how many from each group attempted suicide at least once in their lives, like i said transition helped me heaps but if I was faced with the question of if I had attempted suicide in my lifetime i’d answer yes as it doesn’t specify what it means.
The next table i’d like to look at is this one, it shows that passing has an affect on the suicide attempt rate, it is much lower for the group that passes than all the rest of them. Again like I said previously you just don’t know when the attempted suicides happened was it before they gained pass-ability? Was it before they transitioned? Was it before they started trying to present as their preferred gender? You just don’t know these things, but however I will say nonetheless it seems that passing people have a lower lifetime suicide attempt rate.
My final thoughts on this study is that it does not support the anti-trans ideas about transition nor does it actually focus on how transition affects the suicide attempt rate amongst this population, it is simply stating that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that can cause immense suicidal behaviour and that it’s critical that we all try to better understand this condition and promote love and acceptance for transsexual people.
I will also add that this study also included those who are “gender nonconforming” & “non-binary/genderqueer” which is a little suspect to say the least as this group has no proof behind their supposed identities and gender non conformity has very little to do with transsexuals. I will also point out that with the rise in informed consent models when prescribing hormones for gender issues could very well be contributing to some of this madness as there is no diagnosis process or assessment process prior to them receiving hormones.
Alright now with that out of the way let’s look at the infamous swedish study that everyone throws around to apparently support the claim that transition makes us worse. This study has been so poorly misrepresented that the actual author herself had to come out and clear this up, but it seems to no avail as people still cite this study to support their claims that transition is bad for transsexuals, let’s look through it and reveal that it actually shows the exact opposite to what these people are claiming.
First let’s take a look at the suicide attempt rate overall in this study:
The suicide attempt rate overall for post-op transsexuals in this study is 7.9% that doesn’t seem as high as people making the claim that transition doesn’t help are making it out to be. I concede that it is still higher than the general population but it definitely isn’t a suicide attempt epidemic. if you look at the suicide death rate which is 2.7%, they are considerably higher than the general cissexual population but still wouldn’t say transition made it worse in fact if we consider the previous study on suicide attempts and assume most of those are attempted pre-transition this study actually proves sex reassignment makes it better not worse.
This particular part of the study looks at psychiatric morbidity, substance misuse and accidents, what this part says is that transsexual patients have a higher risk of being hospitalised for a psychiatric disorder other than gender identity disorder suggesting that while sex reassignment helps with gender identity disorder, it doesn’t help with other psychiatric problems that can arise from gender identity disorder possibly due to trauma from living as their birth-sex for a good chunk of their lives or because of internalised messages of transphobia or even because of increased harassment for being trans, especially if they don’t pass.
This particular statement in the study also goes on to suggest that suicide attempt and suicide death rates are considerably lower for the patient group operated on in time later time period 1989-2003 suggesting that improved sex reassignment techniques and treatments contributed to less suicidal behaviour in this group as opposed to the 1973-1988 group which had higher rates of crime, mortality, suicide attempts and death from suicide as stated here:
The study also concluded the following:
It states that while helping transsexuals with gender dysphoria, sex reassignment doesn’t tackle the other psychiatric symptoms left behind after sex reassignment for example trauma related to spending years of your life as someone you’re not, it can take a very large toll on someone psychologically. While the conclusion does say that the rates are high in transsexual populations it does not mean that an overwhelmingly large majority like anti trans individuals claim are dropping like flies so to speak, but it is claiming that post op transsexuals are at a higher risk of suicide and psychiatric issues than the general cissexual population, which should be obvious should it not?
One last thing to seal the deal:
This is the common rates of suicide amongst LGB individuals (20%-40%), should we be considering them mentally ill and locking them up for conversion therapy based on this data? Of course it can be refuted in the same way i just refuted the claim that we are mental patients based on suicide attempts, but in that case you would just be the same as those who advocate for LGB to be considered mental.
This was done on gay men who report 16.7% of lifetime suicide attempts, should we be treating them as mental patients, blaming their sexuality for their attempted suicides?
If your answer is no then why transsexuals? Why are we mentally ill because of our suicide attempts but LGB people aren’t? If your answer is yes congratulations you are a regressive bigot.
Also for that matter if your answer is no and you want to drop the T or call us mental patients, congratulations you are no different than the bigots who claimed homosexuality is a mental illness.
Phew that ends my first post I hope this serves to open people’s minds and to actually show the truth about all this suicide rate debate. Sorry if I was a little heated somewhat during this post I get irritated easily by people who misinform.
Bottom line is suicide rates in trans populations don’t demonstrate that transition doesn’t help in fact comparing the two studies(William’s institute & the swedish study ) actually shows post-op trans people are better off(my reasoning being that the suicide attempts are lower than the one’s in William’s study, thus proving that suicidal behaviour reduces after surgery.)