Report: Transgender youth in Hawaii public schools at greater risk of bullying, suicide

Updated: Sep. 24, 2018 at 3:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Half of transgender youth who attend public schools in the islands say they've attempted suicide in the past year, according to a newly-released state report — the first to focus on the health of Hawaii's transgender youth.

According to the study, three percent of Hawaii's public high school students self-identify as transgender, which translates to about 1,260 teens.

The Hawaii Sexual and Gender Minority Health Report 2018, published Monday, found that transgender youth face greater health disparities than their peers who identify as cisgender — or those whose gender identities match with their biological sex.

This health disparity is greater than those for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth.

"We hope the findings will be used by our stakeholders to initiate and sustain efforts to address the health challenges faced by Hawaii's transgender population," said Lola Irvin, administrator of DOH's Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division. "We must work intentionally to improve the health of our at-risk and under-served populations to move the health of the state forward."

The report also found that transgender youth are much more likely to use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

Transgender students who are victims of bullying or violence also face mental health issues, which increases the likelihood that they will turn to drugs and other risky health behaviors, the study said.

Additional significant findings of the 2018 report include:

  • Only half of transgender youth report that they usually slept at their parent or guardian’s home during the last 30 days, compared to 94 percent of cisgender youth.
  • Less than half of transgender youth saw a doctor or nurse for a checkup or physical exam in the past year, compared to two-thirds of cisgender youth.
  • More than 30 percent of transgender youth have smoked cigarettes in the past month, compared to only 6 percent of cisgender youth.
  • Transgender youth are nearly three times more likely to report binge drinking in the past month compared to cisgender youth.
  • One-quarter of all transgender youth said they have ever injected an illegal drug, versus only 1 percent of cisgender youth.
  • Forty percent of transgender youth said they have been bullied on school property or online in the last year, compared to 23 percent of cisgender youth.
  • One-quarter of transgender youth skipped school because they felt unsafe, compared to only 7 percent of cisgender youth.
  • Nearly 50 percent of transgender youth said they purposely hurt themselves in the past year, compared to 17 percent of cisgender youth.

For the full health report, click here.

This story will be updated.

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