Allowing transgender young people to use their chosen names significantly reduces their risk of depression and suicide, according to a new study by the University of Texas.
Researchers interviewed 129 US transgender young people aged 15 to 21, asking if they were able to use their chosen names when at school, home, work, and with friends.
Controlling for personal characteristics and social support, the teens who reported being able to use their chosen name in all four areas experienced 71 percent fewer symptoms of severe depression, a 34 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts, and a 65 percent decrease in suicide attempts.
The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health ahead of the Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31.
The research also found that having just one context where a chosen name was used was associated with a 29 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts.
“Many kids who are transgender have chosen a name that is different than the one that they were given at birth,” lead researcher Stephen T. Russell said.
“We showed that the more contexts or settings where they were able to use their preferred name, the stronger their mental health was.”
He added, “I’ve been doing research on LGBT youth for almost 20 years now, and even I was surprised by how clear that link was.”
“It’s practical to support young people in using the name that they choose. It’s respectful and developmentally appropriate.”
Russell’s previous research showed one in three transgender youths, or twice the rate of their peers, reported suicidal thoughts.
According to a 2016 study by the University of Washington found prepubescent transgender children in supportive households had happiness levels equal to or above their cisgender peers.
Last month, a separate study warned of just how dangerous it can be for LGBTIQ young people to hide their sexuality.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that 46% of the closeted teenagers reported suicidal thoughts or behaviours, compared to 22% of those who were open about their sexuality.
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(Photo by Jeffrey Feng/Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)