Depression And Suicide Rates Smaller In Trans Youth Using Chosen Names

Study finds reported depression and thoughts of suicide drop when a trans person uses their chosen name rather than the name assigned at birth.

teen suffering from depression sitting on back steps with hood up

The likelihood of depression and suicidal thoughts in trans youth becomes significantly less when they use their chosen names in social situations such as home, school and work as opposed to the name assigned to them at birth, according to findings published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

129 youth aged between 15 and 21 years agreed to participate in the US study, 74 of them reported using their chosen name instead of their assigned name. According to reponses, those 74 were far less likely to suffer suicidal thoughts and behaviours and either instances or symptoms of depression. The difference was a 65% drop in attempts at suicide and a 71% drop in depressive symptoms. No significant differences were reported when race or ethnicity, sexual identity or the age of the participant was taken into account.  

Regarding the reasoning behind the new study, Stephen Russell, PhD, the chair of the department of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas, said in an interview with Healio Psychiatry,  There has been sudden public attention to transgender people and issues in recent years,  and we have had little research evidence about the realities of the lives of transgender young people.”

He continued, “This study shows that the factors that support the social transition of transgender youth, like getting to use their chosen name, make a big difference for their mental health. Other factors that could support their social transition are likely to also promote their mental health, like using preferred pronouns, getting to dress as they choose, or using the appropriate restroom.”

Speaking of the problems wherein many data systems are designed to record legal names rather than chosen names, Russell continued, “Leading medical and psychological organizations have already recommended the use of chosen names as best practice in clinical care. This research documents that not only is it disrespectful not to respect the chosen name of a transgender youth, it may actually be harmful.”

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