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Conversion tactics on trans folks lead to suicide attempts new study finds

Conversion tactics on trans folks lead to suicide attempts new study finds.
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A study now proves what we all probably knew: Therapeutic intervention to change a transgender person's identity to that of a cis person is toxic and can lead to attempts at suicide. 

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry and was authored by researchers at The Fenway Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School), and McLean Hospital (Harvard Medical School). It is also believed to be the first such U.S. study to show a correlation between self-destructive behaviors in trans folks when conversion efforts are attempted. 

Last month another study was published in which the same researchers documented that 13.5% of American transgender men and women have experienced conversion efforts either by therapists, counselors, or religious advisors.

“The rate of previous suicide attempts among transgender people in the United States is extremely high, with 41 percent reporting that they have had that experience, ” said Dr. Alex Keuroghlian, senior author of the study who directs the National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute and the Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Gender Identity Program. “What this new study shows is that transgender people who are exposed to conversion efforts anytime in their lives have more than double the odds of attempting suicide compared with those who have never experienced efforts by professionals to convert their gender identity from transgender to cisgender.”

This study supports the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy of Pediatrics advising mental health care providers that gender identity conversion efforts at any age are harmful

Children who are exposed to conversion efforts experience severe psychological distress the study found. Also it didn't matter if intervention came from a secular source or a religious one, the adverse mental health outcomes remeained the same.

“One of the most alarming findings from this study was the association between exposure to gender identity conversion efforts during childhood and a four-fold increased odds of lifetime suicide attempts,” said Dr. Jack Turban, resident physician in psychiatry at The Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital and lead author of the study. “This is important because some experts continue to advocate for gender identity conversion efforts for young children. We hope our findings contribute to ongoing legislative efforts to ban gender identity conversion efforts.”

About Fenway Health & The Fenway Institute

Since 1971, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhoods, the LGBTQ community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues.

About Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH Research Institute conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the nation, with an annual research budget of more than $925 million and comprises more than 8,500 researchers working across more than 30 institutes, centers and departments. In August 2019 the MGH was once again named #2 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in its list of "America’s Best Hospitals."

About McLean Hospital

McLean Hospital has a continuous commitment to put people first in patient care, innovation and discovery, and shared knowledge related to mental health. In 2017 and 2018, it was named the #1 hospital for psychiatric care in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. McLean Hospital is the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a member of Partners HealthCare. For more information, please visit mcleanhospital.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.