More Teens Identify As Transgender Or Gender-Nonconforming — But Healthcare Hasn't Caught Up

Ad failed to load

According to a study of nearly 81,000 students, more teens are identifying as transgender or gender nonconforming than previously thought. The number is still fairly small — about three percent of the people who were surveyed — but it's enough evidence to suggest that gender identity is more diverse than the simple girl-boy binary society hinges on. At the same time, one aspect of the study fell in line with other research on the LGBT community: Kids who identified as trans or gender nonconforming had worse physical and mental health than their cisgender peers.

The Associated Press reports that for a study published in Pediatrics, researchers looked at a 2016 statewide survey of teenagers in Minnesota, focusing only on students in ninth and 11th grades. (This would make most of them around 14 and 16 years old.) Using this data, they estimated the number of trans and gender nonconforming students in the two grades across the entire United States.

In 2017, a report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that 0.7 percent of kids between the ages of 13 and 17 years old say they are transgender. The study of Minnesota teens, however, reports an estimate more than three times higher. Of the thousands who were surveyed, about 2,200, or three percent, fell under the umbrella of transgender or gender nonconforming, meaning they identified themselves as a gender other than the one they were given at birth. This can range from preferring gender neutral pronouns to full-on identifying as a different gender.

Ad failed to load

"Diverse gender identities are more prevalent than people would expect," said Dr. Nic Rider, the study's lead author, according to the Associated Press.

This isn't to say that smaller estimates are wrong. Gender identity is more difficult to quantify than you might think. Phrasing is key; if researchers ask a question about gender identity in different ways, they might get totally different answers from the same respondent. In fact, the CDC's survey on "youth risk behaviors" currently doesn't include questions about gender identity. (There's a note on the CDC website stating that this will change in the future.)

Ad failed to load

Like previous studies, researchers also found that trans and gender nonconforming teens were in worse health than cisgender students. Just over 60 percent reported a health status other than "very good" or "excellent," compared to 33 percent of cisgender students. Mental health was a problem as well, with 59 percent of trans or gender nonconforming kids reporting long-term mental health concerns. By contrast, less than 20 percent of cisgender students reported the same.

The statewide survey didn't ask about bullying, but the study's authors suggested that harassment and discrimination could be a factor in the high rates of mental and physical health problems. Past research has shown that LGBT teens are at a higher risk for bullying. According to "Growing Up LGBT in America," a report by the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT youth are twice as likely to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked, or shoved. A full 92 percent say they're likely to hear negative messages about being LGBT from school, the Internet, and their peers.

Transgender students are especially vulnerable to harassment and violence, even compared to their lesbian, gay, and bisexual peers. Research from GLSEN found that 90 percent of trans students heard derogatory remarks about gender expression from other students, and two-thirds said they felt unsafe in school because of their gender expression or sexuality.

Ad failed to load
Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

It may come as no surprise, then, that LGBT teens are more prone to mental health problems like depression. In 2014, the Williams Institute concluded that transgender people in particular are at a much higher lifetime risk for suicide than the rest of the population, and other studies have suggested the same thing.

Transgender teens may not be the majority, but they are more prevalent than previously believed, especially now that the rigid gender binary is starting to soften. They deserve the same opportunities in school and at home as their peers — let's hope that happens sooner rather than later.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Here's Your Horoscope For Memorial Day Weekend

We’re constantly fascinated by what our zodiac sign says about our lives, whether it's which signs are most compatible or how each sign handles conflict in relationships. That's why Bustle has enlisted Mecca Woods, a New York City-based astrologer of…
By Mecca Woods

These Are The Absolute Best Memorial Day Sales This Year

Get your credit cards ready, because this year's fashion and beauty Memorial Day sales might just be the best ones yet. There's not only major savings for the holiday, but some of the savings start days before. You know, so you can spend the entire w…
By Kali Borovic

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In June To Help Get Your Summer Started

Summer is right around the corner, and so is another batch of streaming options to get excited about. On Wednesday, everything leaving and coming to Netflix in June 2018 was announced by the streaming platform. And don't worry, there's something for …
By Jamie Primeau

These Are The Beauty Products That Came Out In May That You DEFINITELY Need On Your Radar

For beauty lovers, months aren't just months: They're 28 to 31 day periods, wherein any and all product and brand launches can happen — and when they do, it feels like your birthday, no matter what time of the year you were actually born. The May 201…
By Amanda Richards

The 5 Rom-Coms You Need To Read This Summer, According To Someone Who Writes Them

'Tis the season for rom-coms. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and everyone is rocking the flirtiest items in their wardrobe. I don't know about you, but summer always takes me back to my teenage years — and that automatically makes me want t…
By Cristina Arreola

11 Tiny Sunglasses That Will Make You Look Even Cooler Than Kylie Jenner

You know what they say — the tinier the sunglasses, the more stylish the outfit. OK, that's not really a saying, but it seems to be the case these days. Basically every celebrity, model, and It person has been spotted sporting tiny sunglasses as part…
By Sara Tan

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley

12 Personality Quizzes That Will Help You Determine Your Exact Strengths

Learning more about yourself can be tough. It's so easy to observe others to learn what makes them tick, what areas they really excel in, and the things they could be better at. Doing that to yourself, however, is a whole different story. That's exac…
By Jessica Booth

5 Brand New Short Story Collections You Can Finish In One Sitting This Weekend

Since 2013, May has been known by book-lovers by another name: Short Story Month. If you're ready to kick off this year's celebration the right way, make sure to pick up a short story collection to read over the weekend. Modern life moves more than …
By Sadie Trombetta

I Got Styled By 'Queer Eye's Tan France & Realized I Still Have A Lot Of Fashion "Rules" To Unlearn

When I walked into a New York City Express store on May 2 to get styled by Queer Eye's Tan France, I was ready for anything. And I mean truly anything. I am such a massive fan of the show and Tan that if he had instructed me to wrap myself in tin foi…
By Olivia Muenter

It Isn’t Bad To Have A “Princess Fantasy” — Mine Made Me The Woman I Am Today

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you were anything like me as a kid, at some point, the answer to that question was "a princess." Thanks to good old-fashioned gender stereotypes, most little girls born in the '90s (and even now) grew up in…
By Nicole Pomarico

Here’s How To Get A FREE 30-Minute Facial At Sephora That Sucks Your Pores Clean

Sephora has long been a mecca for both serious and amateur beauty lovers alike, where they not only have makeup artists that help answer questions about products, but free samples to let you play with new collections. But now they have upped the ante…
By Marlen Komar

Kris Jenner Is FINALLY Launching A Makeup Line With Kylie

Maybe you don't have a favorite sister of the Kar-Jenner clan, and that's perfectly fine. The one thing you can't deny, though, is that when it comes power, no one in that family has more than the world famous momager. Now, Kris Jenner x Kylie Cosmet…
By Shea Simmons

This Kendall Jenner “Diva” Moment Is Really Being Taken Out Of Context

The fashion always takes center stage at the Met Gala, but there's usually a little drama, too. And this time, a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family is involved. People are buzzing about how Kendall Jenner shoved someone at the Met Gala, but after…
By Nicole Pomarico

Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix? Add These Movies To Your Watch List

The weekend may feel too far away, but if you're lacking formal plans, a Netflix marathon session is always a good idea. If you're an avid viewer, however, you probably feel like you've seen everything the streaming platform has to offer already. In …
By Ashley Rey

Hillary Clinton Says She's Ready To Fight Like A Republican — EXCLUSIVE

Hillary Clinton Is Not Going Away Quietly. Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into The Night? Unlike Losers Before Her, Clinton Is Not Going Gently Into the Night. These headlines, which appeared in various news outlets over the course of the last…
By Catherine Thompson and Jenny Hollander

Here's The Very Best Time To Book Your Summer Vacation If You're Trying To Save Money

Summer is a great time to travel, for obvious reasons. The weather is better. Many offices are more lax about time off. If you have kids, they’re out of school. But there’s one very important element that makes summer not a great time to travel: Cost…
By Emma McGowan
)}