An Australian first La Trobe University study of gender diverse and transgender young people has revealed high rates of depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety.

The beyondblue funded report, From blues to rainbows: the mental health and well-being of gender diverse and transgender young people in Australia, found that half were diagnosed with depression and two thirds had experienced verbal abuse.

The report also highlighted that support from parents, peers and schools can make a huge and positive impact to that young person’s wellbeing.

Lead author La Trobe’s Dr Elizabeth Smith said almost all of the 189 Australians aged between 14 and 25 surveyed had experienced abuse because of their gender diversity, ranging from verbal threats to physical violence.

One fifth had experienced physical abuse, and 90 per cent had thought about suicide in response to that experience of physical abuse. The most common places for threats and harm to occur were on the street (40 per cent) and at school (38 per cent).

Where participants had support from their parents, they were half as likely to be diagnosed with depression and more likely to seek professional help if needed. Mental health was also significantly better if peer, teacher and school relationships were positive.

The report also found:

  • 66 per cent of participants had seen a health professional for their mental health in the past year
  • 38 per cent had suicidal thoughts and a quarter had spoken to a medical professional about it
  • One in three did not feel supported by their family and suffered much higher rates of stress, suicide and depression
  • 45 per cent were diagnosed with anxiety compared with an average 25% of the population
  • 66 per cent had experienced verbal abuse due to their gender identity
  • 62 per cent had participated in some form of activism (e.g. participating in a march) which was a protective factor

The findings will be presented to policy makers and schools to suggest better supports for gender diverse and transgender young people and to educate teachers and parents, whose influence is crucial to the young person’s mental health and wellbeing.

View the research report at La Trobe University.

– Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission