CDC Study Says Nearly 2% of High School Students Are Transgender

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Photo: Tami Chappell/ REUTERS

Mila Madison

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on Friday, which studied disparities in transgender students with violence victimization, substance use, suicide risk, and sexual risk compared with their cisgender peers.

The report utilized data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which is conducted biennially among local, state, and nationally representative samples of 131,901 U.S. high school students in grades 9–12. In the 2017 study, 10 states (Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin) and nine large urban school districts (Boston, Broward County, Cleveland, Detroit, District of Columbia, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco) had participated.

Using the data pooled from these 19 sites, 1.8% of the students surveyed said they were transgender, with another 1.6% saying they were unsure. The students were given four options in the survey, A. No, I am not transgender, B. Yes, I am transgender, C. I am not sure if I am transgender, and D. I do not know what this question is asking. 94.4% of the students identified as cisgender while 2.1% did not understand the question.

Here are more statistics observed in the study:

  • The study revealed that 35% of the transgender students are bullied at school compared to 18% of their cisgender peers.

  • 27% of the transgender students felt unsafe at or traveling to/from school compared to 6% of their cisgender peers.

  • 26% of the transgender students experienced physical dating violence compared to 7% of their cisgender peers.

  • 35% of the transgender students surveyed had attempted suicide compared to 7% of their cisgender peers.

  • 64% of the transgender students surveyed did not use condom during last sexual intercourse compared to 43% of their cisgender peers.

  • 16% of transgender students had sexual intercourse with 4 or more partners compared to to 7% of their cisgender peers.

  • 36% of the transgender students had engaged in some form of substance abuse compared to 16% of their cisgender peers.

Graphic: CDC.COM

These findings indicate a need for intervention efforts to improve health outcomes among transgender youths.

“Transgender youths in high school appear to face serious risk for violence victimization, substance use, and suicide, as well as some sexual risk behaviors, indicating a need for programmatic efforts to better support the overall health of transgender youths,” the study says. “Taking steps to create safe learning environments and provide access to culturally competent physical and mental health care (might be important first steps to improving the health of transgender youths. Continued research into the health of transgender youths and development of effective intervention strategies are warranted.”