Friday, November 17, 2017

Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20) Reminds us of Violence and High Suicide Rates Among Transgender Individuals

TDOR events to be held all over the world remind us of the violence directed at trans people. I've worked as a physician providing transgender care and primary care to individuals in the trans community for just under 20 years now. My transgender patients range from age 5 to 83. The violence directed at community members weighs heavily on all of us. Violence includes physical and verbal assault, with murder at the extreme. 

But we also experience the heartbreak of suicide. The transgender community reports a suicide attempt rate of nearly 50 percent - a higher suicide attempt rate than in any other population. This is true in adolescents and adults.

The suicide of a seventeen-year-old patient prompted me to write 'Where's MY Book?' A Guide for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth, Their Parents, & Everyone Else. In fact, the first chapter is titled, "The 9-1-1 Message: So What Should You Do if You Are Having Thoughts About Wanting to Die?"

We explore suicide risks, warning signals, and how to access help when a person's thoughts become so dark that suicide becomes a real consideration. Numbers of suicide hotlines for teens, adults, and parents are listed. 

I tell the story of a wonderful trans patient of mine who thinks about suicide so often, I've stopped asking her if she's suicidal. Rather, I ask her, "What do you do when you think about taking your own life?" Her immediate answer, "Anything else!" gave me a tool to use with other patients. We explore in practical terms what specific things one can do to get to the next minute, the next day.

Respectfully, we remember that "Life can get better, but only if you're breathing."

Linda Gromko, MD

'Where's MY Book?' A Guide for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth, Their Parents & Everyone Else is available on in paperback and Kindle format. You can purchase it at my clinic, or through our clinic website at

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