Metro Weekly

Calls to suicide hotline spike after introduction of trans military ban and Texas bathroom bill

Youth advocates say there's a correlation between anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and suicidal ideation

Photo by Aram Vartian

The Trevor Project says that the number of transgender youth calling into its suicide prevention hotline spiked following the announcement of President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender military service members and the introduction of a “bathroom bill” being considered by the Texas Legislature.

As the nation’s largest LGBTQ youth crisis intervention organization, the Trevor Project receives about 178 contacts per day via phone, text, or chat, with 7.3 percent of contacts identifying as transgender. But following the introduction of SB 3, Texas’ special session bathroom bill targeting transgender people, the percentage of trans youth reaching out to the Trevor Project’s hotline doubled to 14.7 percent.

That number went even higher, spiking to 17.5 percent, following President Trump’s tweets that he wants to ban all transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.

“This data makes clear that our elected officials can no longer ignore that their anti-transgender rhetoric is putting lives at risk,” Trevor Project CEO and Executive Director Amit Paley said in a statement. “Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation directly leads to crisis among our community’s young people.

“While The Trevor Project will continue to be there for them around the clock, our elected officials must stop throwing young people into crisis for political gain,” Paley added. “Discrimination is un-American, and we will hold to account those legislators who attack the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community.”

Lou Weaver, the transgender programs coordinator for Equality Texas, issued a statement pointing to the correlation between anti-transgender rhetoric and suicidal ideation by LGBTQ youth.

“The anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and all of the anti-transgender policies have directly resulted in members of our community being assaulted and our parents being afraid for their children,” Weaver said. “We hope the news from the Trevor Project will inform lawmakers and result in them rejecting all discriminatory bathroom bill legislation targeting our transgender neighbors, families and friends.”

Chuck Smith, the CEO of Equality Texas, called the documented spike in calls to the Trevor Project’s suicide hotline “heartbreaking.”

“It’s summertime. Families with children should be having fun and reconnecting during their summer break. Instead, families with trans youth are traveling for hours to testify against bathroom bills, because the lieutenant governor has decided to pick on an already bullied group of kids,” Smith said in a statement. “Attacking transgender kids with discriminatory legislation puts them in crisis. Enough is enough! The Texas Legislature needs to stop the bathroom bills.”

The Trevor Project Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you need assistance, call 1-866-488-7386. Text and chat counseling is also available, from 3-10 p.m. EST every day via thetrevorproject.org/help.

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Shelf Wood
John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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