Sam Dylan Finch 🍓 @samdylanfinch Mental health & chronic conditions @Healthline. 🌱 Very earnest, very gay nerd. 🌈♿ Sep. 19, 2018 2 min read

“Well, these kids are mentally ill so—”

I’m going to have to ask you to back alllllll the way up for a second here.

First of all, gender dysphoria can absolutely manifest in ways that are remarkably similar to other mental health problems, like depression, generalized anxiety, eating disorders, even disorders like borderline (“unstable identity” is considered a “symptom”).

So to suggest there were mental health issues “preceding dysphoria” is an impossible claim to make with any certainty, because you don’t know which aspects of that youth’s mental health struggles actually *are* linked to dysphoria.

I talk a little bit about this in this article, actually: 

Second of all, some mental illnesses are triggered by trauma, or surface/develop as maladaptive coping mechanisms due to an unsafe environment. Transgender youth, esp ones who aren’t supported, are vulnerable for this reason.

So the presence of preexisting mental health issues? Does not at all negate these kids’ identities.

If anything, it says EXACTLY what trans people have been saying all along — these youth need mental health professionals that work with trans youth specifically, and will know how to parse out these complex (and often overlapping) issues.

Third… I am a transgender person who also happens to have obsessive-compulsive disorder and ADHD. These disorders run in my family. I can tell you with absolute certainty, I know the difference between a symptom of my illness and my gender identity.

Spoiler alert, transgender people can have mental illness, because mental illness impacts every existing community on the planet. That isn't new. To bend that fact to suggest that identifying as trans is pathological... that's pretty gross.

Being trans is not a pathology to begin with. I explain the exact differences in this article (it should honestly be required reading for folks who make these claims): 

It’s downright offensive to suggest that people with mental illness shouldn’t be trusted when they talk about their gender and their identity. My illnesses do not diminish my capacity to recognize who I am and what I need.

And when we stigmatize mental illness in this way, it harms us. It’s why many trans people lie about their mental health status when trying to access care, & why many of us do not ask for help when we’re suicidal: 

This “research” doesn’t prove… anything at all, except that there’s likely a higher incidence of mental health struggles in populations that self-identify as transgender or questioning. Which we already freakin' knew — this is true for all LGBTQ+ people.

You can make assumptions based on the research as much as you’d like. But an interpretation of facts is not, itself, factual. What you’re doing isn’t scientific — it’s a PR move designed to invalidate trans youth, and I’m not here for it.

You can follow @samdylanfinch.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Threader is an independent project created by only two developers. The site gets 500,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Running this space is expensive and time consuming. If you find Threader useful, please consider supporting us to make it a sustainable project.