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Trans kids in Georgia say they have target on their back with GOP initiative

Maya T. Prabhu and Ariel Hart, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

An AJC reporter contacted organizations more than a week ago that support the legislation in an attempt to speak with Georgians who received transgender treatment and regretted transitioning. The person whose information was provided did not respond to a request for comment.

Greater risk of suicide

Opponents of the legislation say bills such as SB 140, which are advancing across the country in Republican-controlled legislatures, are targeting a small, already vulnerable population. According to a 2022 study by the law school at the University of California, Los Angeles, about 1.2% of Georgians between the ages of 13 and 17 identify as transgender, or about 8,500 minors.

Studies have found that transgender youth, and adults, consider suicide at a rate exponentially higher than those who are not transgender.

Michael first told his mother that he was transgender when he was about 11 years old, but the family didn’t immediately address it. That’s when Michael said he fell into a depression and began cutting his arms as a way to deal with what he was feeling. “Cutting,” or self-injury, is a nonsuicidal, yet harmful way to cope with emotional pain, sadness, anger and stress. Michael said he eventually considered suicide.

“I didn’t understand at the time, but seeing Michael in so much pain made it impossible not to address,” his mother said. “I needed Michael to be happy, and I was going to do whatever that took.”


A study published in 2020 in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, a peer-reviewed publication that studies victims and perpetrators, found that 56% of transgender youth between ages 14 and 18 who were surveyed said they had tried to take their lives within the previous six months.

According to a 2019 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, 9% of high school students reported attempting suicide in the previous 12 months.

The British journal The Lancet reported a risk of suicide in one U.S. study in 36% of patients of all ages with gender dysphoria — the distress that comes from feeling you’re one gender when you physically look like another. In contrast, risk of suicide was found in only 5% of the group without gender dysphoria.

Major scientific organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization say that medical and surgical care to transition genders is appropriate when properly administered.


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