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Toward Understanding the Mental Health of Trans Men

The numbers are both daunting and appalling: 75 percent of suicide victims in the United States are men; 41 percent are transgender. These statistics represent numbers that are much larger than that of the general population – sometimes nine times larger.

With the intersection of Pride and Men’s Health Month, there’s no better time to raise awareness for the unique mental health challenges that trans men experience.

One common factor in mental health issues among men and transgender people is the real or perceived rejection from mainstream society, leading to feelings of alienation and shame. In a culture where “being a man” is equated with “being tough,” it is that much harder to break down the barriers of seeking outside help when experiencing mental health challenges. Trans men often don’t feel comfortable or simply do not have the means to seek mental health services due to cost of treatment, fear of treatment, previous negative experiences with healthcare providers or concerns about stigma.

June is a time to celebrate and show support for the LGBTQIA+ and men’s communities. It is a time to better understand their experiences and share that information with others. It is also a time to ask ourselves, “What can I do?” Here are just a few suggestions:

  1. Be honest with yourself and others about how life events and stressors can and do take a toll. It’s time to teach future generations of boys that they don’t have to silence their emotions.
  2. Listen nonjudgmentally. When surrounded by a supportive community, rates of mental health issues decrease substantially.
  3. Provide resources and counseling to families to help them understand and accept a transgender relative. Research shows that family and peer acceptance are strong predictors of resilience for transgender people.

This month, take a Mental Health First Aid course in your area. The more understanding each of us are when it comes to our own or another person’s mental health and gender identity, the better the outcome will be for everyone.