Being Safe, Being Me The Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey was a national on-line survey conducted by researchers from several Canadian universities and community organizations. The lead researcher is Elizabeth Saewyc from UBC. It is worth quoting the Executive Summary in full.
The survey had 923 trans youth participants from all 10 provinces and one of the territories. The survey included somewhat different questions for younger (14-18 years) and older (19-25 years) trans youth about a wide range of life experiences and behaviours that influence young people’s health. This national report is a first snapshot of survey results.
• While the majority of youth (83%) reported living in their felt gender at least part of the time, only about half lived in their felt gender full time. Those who lived in their felt gender all the time were almost 50% more likely to report good or excellent mental health.
• Safety, violence exposure, and discrimination were major issues. For example, two thirds of participants reported discrimination because of their gender identity and about half reported discrimination due to their physical appearance.
• Most youth (70%) reported sexual harassment; more than 1 in 3 younger participants had been physically threatened or injured in the past year (36%); and nearly half of older youth reported various types of cyberbullying. E 3 Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey National Report
• Family relationships are important, and while trans youth generally reported feeling their parents cared about them, 70% reported their family did not understand them, and about 1 in 3 did not have an adult in their family they could talk to about problems. When youth had high levels of parent support and family connectedness, they reported much better health.
• Mental health issues were a key concern. Nearly two-thirds reported self-harm in the past year; a similar number reported serious thoughts of suicide; and more than 1 in 3 had attempted suicide.
• Trans youth who had supportive adults both inside and outside their family were four times more likely to report good or excellent mental health, and were far less likely to have considered suicide.
• Trans youth generally reported low connectedness to school, but those who reported higher school connectedness were twice as likely to report having good mental health. • Many youth reported missing needed physical health care during the past year (33% of younger and 49% of older youth) and even more missed needed mental health care (68% of younger youth).
• Over half of youth with a family doctor (53%) said their current family doctor knew about their trans identity. However, only 15% of youth with a family doctor felt “very comfortable” discussing their trans status and trans-specific health care needs. Even fewer felt comfortable at walk-in clinics.
• Poverty and hunger was also an issue for some trans youth: 1 in 5 younger youth and more than l in 3 older trans youth reported going hungry in the past year because they could not afford food.
• More than 1 in 4 younger trans youth reported they had run away from home in the past year and this was much more likely among those who had reported a history of physical or sexual abuse. Given the significant health challeng - es faced by trans youth in our survey, but the clear health benefits reported by those who had supportive relation - ships and could live safely in their felt gender, there are a number of rec - ommendations that emerge from the findings:
• Support for families of trans youth: Families are a key source of support for young people. We need better outreach and support for families, to help them understand and support their trans youth, and to help trans youth feel safe at home.
• Safer schools: Schools need to become safer and more welcoming for trans youth, even before these youth make themselves known to school staff. Schools and school districts should work with trans youth, their parents, trans community leaders, and professionals to develop effective policies and pro - grams to create supportive school environments. • Knowledgeable and accessible health care services: Healthcare providers and clinics should work with trans communities to ensure adequate and timely access to gen - der-affirming healthcare for trans youth. Professionals from all health care disciplines need further training to improve their ability to offer high quality care, including discipline-specific training in protocols for addressing trans youth health issues.
• Work to reduce disparities be - tween provinces: In some areas of health, provincial differences were striking. Trans youth in every province should have access to safe schools, high quality health care, and supportive networks. This requires commitment from government to ensure policies and programs are supportive, not discriminatory.
• Engage trans youth and their families in the solutions for change: The 923 trans youth who shared their health experiences are the experts at identifying the challenges they face. They should have a voice in making changes in the environments they navigate, to support their being and their becoming, their growth and their transition to adulthood.
The full report is available here.