In 2017, ten states including Maryland piloted a survey to measure the percentage of high school students that identify as transgender and assess the link between being a transgender high school student and dating violence. The recently released survey data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey can be useful in planning dating violence prevention programs and ensuring services are available for high school students who identify as transgender and are experiencing violence in dating relationships.
The survey found that an average of 1.8% of high school students identify as transgender. Transgender youth were more likely than cisgender students to report violent victimization, substance abuse, and suicide risk. (Cisgender refers to people whose gender identity aligns with their sex at birth.) Students at the highest risk for violent outcomes may have dropped out of school, so are not included in this study.
Transgender students (students whose gender identify does not align with their sex at birth) were at disproportionately higher risk than cisgender students for violent victimization. A full 26% of transgender students had experienced physical dating violence and 23% had experienced sexual dating violence. In contrast, female students experienced physical dating violence 9% of the time and sexual dating violence 12% of the time.
The Centers for Disease Control is calling for more efforts to create safe learning environments and provide access to culturally competent physical and mental health care for transgender youth. Since violent victimization is a documented risk factor for substance use and suicide risk, interventions focused on reducing dating violence among transgender adolescents might well improve their overall health.
GLSEN (pronounced Glisten) is the leading national organization championing LGBTQ issues in kindergarten through high school. GLSEN Maryland serves students and schools in all 24 counties, although heavy emphasis is put on Baltimore City and rural counties.
Pushing Back: A blueprint for change. Lessons learned from the 2016 Needs Assessment of LGBTQ Marylanders