Transgender college students suffer mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm and thoughts of suicide, at far higher rates than do their classmates who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth, a new study says.
Nearly 80% of gender-minority (GM) students reported dealing with at least one of the above symptoms, compared with 45% of cisgender (non-transgender) students, according to research published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“With regard to mental health, GM adolescents and young adults represent an underserved and under-researched population,” the study says. These students often face unique sources of stress, such as family rejection, the research found.
The report encourages colleges and universities to boost mental health services tailored specifically to transgender students and urges administrators to work to create more inclusive campus environments.
“Even when university-sanctioned LGBTQ resource centers or support groups are present, this doesn’t mean that university students, faculty and staff are uniformly affirming and inclusive of trans students,” Abbie Goldberg, a professor of psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts, told UB in October.
Goldberg studied trans and gender-nonconforming students across the U.S. to see how they were treated on campus. She encouraged administrators to provide options other than male and female on applications and to find ways to offer trans students single rooms with locks, as housing is their top concern.
Financial concerns for transgender college students
Transgender students are also more likely to experience financial anxieties. They come from families with lower incomes and therefore are more likely to receive financial aid, the Association of American Colleges and Universities has found.
However, the association’s report found that transgender students are much more likely to be engaged in some form of activism in order “to overcome the barriers they face.”