May 27th, 2020

Data shows GSA participation only buffers risk for suicide attempt for some

By medicinehatnews on June 10, 2019.

Re: “Standing with the LGBTQ community,” June 3

Colette Smithers claims she’s not interested in responding politely or civilly when her rights, safety, and well-being are threatened (how it is, exactly, that she’s willing to … but she’s happy to pursue a GSA policy that threatens the rights, safety, and well-being of marginalized students, so long as those students have yet to access an identity she cares about. While I think it’s valid and important to make a distinction between politeness and civility, it seems to this trans lesbian that the only right she’s defending is her right to abuse the closeted in pursuit of her own social capital.

The Saewyc study the Notley Government liked to use to justify their making of GSAs into institutions that had no transparency for parents, mentions, in its abstract, studies that indicate that GSAs might not be nearly as good at protecting children from cissexist and heterosexist abuse as thought. From the abstract:

More recently, a retrospective study of California young adults found that participation in a GSA during high school buffered the risk for lifetime suicide attempts, but only when levels of sexual minority victimization are low (Toomey, Ryan, Diaz, & Russell, 2011). For those sexual minority young adults who reported high levels of victimization as students, participation in a GSA was related to a greater probability of attempting suicide. These authors point out, however, that as their variable of interest was “lifetime suicide attempts,” these could have occurred prior to participation in a GSA. 

This attempt to explain a policy that increasingly appears to be flawed is pretty big reach, considering suicide attempts among young people rise with age group. Imagine believing that someone can’t be expected to come to terms with the effects of sexual abuse for years or decades, but that all effects of quiet abuse can be observed within a time frame of a couple-three years. To many, that seems galloping selection bias.

Some of us don’t speak about queer children as though they don’t age, largely because some of us have not just seen this data, but were, ourselves, closeted, and expected to check privilege we never had, and were punished for not having. While trans women and other transfeminine-spectrum people make up roughly three quarters of out trans people, they are in the minority among trans-identified persons under the age of 18. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s 2011 survey, “Injustice At Every Turn” found a 16-year gap in median age of outness between transmasculine and transfeminine persons. There has been consistent discrimination against trans women (as well as people of colour and poor people) when attempting to access transition medicine.

That discrimination is of a form the Notley Government spent millions entrenching, ensuring that trans patients would still generally require a psychiatrist’s sign-off to access hormone replacement medicine, which is safer than Mifegymiso and birth control … so much for my body, my choice, but then Colette Smithers seems to care more about the right of women not to feel bad about getting an abortion than the right of trans women not to be offered genital reconstruction before getting medicine that’s been demonstrably more-efficacious at treating sex dysphoria, and less-expensive to the province of Alberta, not to mention less-likely to harm the patient’s health.

Smithers is acting like a hypocrite who seems to think that queer children don’t age, or aren’t queer unless they’re out to themselves. She can cease her contemptible habit of spamming alphabet soup when it comes to making excuses for the former government and their consistent hatred for the rights of trans women, the group of Albertans who are most-likely per surveys to be LGBQ. She can either stand up for the rights of those Albertans to buy medicine safer than birth control and not be put into situations that exacerbate abuse based on their sexuality, declare her bigoted belief that out trans women are former men, and didn’t deserve her concern before getting out, or get the hell off her high horse.

Valerie Keefe


Note: The original version of this letter carried a misleading headline.

The headline read “Data shows GSA participation buffers risk for suicide attempts,” but that referred to a study that referenced situations where sexual minority victimizations were low.

The writer further quoted the study that said “For those sexual minority young adults who reported high levels of victimization as students, participation in a GSA was related to a greater probability of attempting suicide.”

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