Study says transgender youth in Saskatchewan, Manitoba face suicide, bullying

By on May 5, 2017


The report found over half of school-aged trans youth had attempted suicide in the past year. (Pixabay photo, CC0 Public Domain)
The report found over half of school-aged trans youth had attempted suicide in the past year. (Pixabay photo, CC0 Public Domain)

WINNIPEG—A new study is shedding light on some troubling realities for transgender youth on the Prairies, including suicide and bullying.

The study looked at the experiences of 67 trans youth from Manitoba and Saskatchewan between the ages of 14 to 25.

They participated in a larger, nation-wide study called the Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey.

University of Manitoba sociologists released a regional report showing the prairie findings.

According to the study, more than half of school-aged trans youth said they were bullied in school and 74 per cent over the age of 18 said they were treated unfairly because of their physical appearance.

The report also found over half of school-aged trans youth had attempted suicide in the past year.

That figure is higher than the national average, said the report’s senior investigator. Dr. Tracey Peter.

“They also reported higher risks of self-harm and higher rates of almost all types of drug use, compared to the national sample. These rates suggest our trans youth are experiencing high levels of distress,” she told CTV Winnipeg.

Peter said a potential positive difference maker for trans teens is their access to transgender-focused programming and services.

“I think one of the things this report shows is that the services, as thin as they may be, are really doing good work,” Peter said.

The Rainbow Resource Centre is one organization that offers such services. Education program coordinator Dr. Reece Malone said the report’s findings are concerning, but not surprising.

“A lot of trans youth don’t feel included in many of the recent initiatives, such as anti-homophobia policies and gay-straight alliances in schools,” Malone said.

“These programs and policies are important, but we need to go a step further to explicitly highlight issues in transphobia and all of the negative consequences that stem from it.”

On Thursday, parents of transgender youth urged members of the Senate’s legal committee to back the Liberal government’s gender identity and gender expression bill.

Some members of the Senate, including Conservative Sen. Don Plett, have expressed misgivings about the bill, including the notion that the concept of “gender expression” should be protected under human rights laws.