Welcome to the Trans Lifeline blog!
It’s estimated that there are 700,000 people who are transgender in the United States and if those statistics are correct, that represents only 0.2% of the total US population. GLAAD has cited a recent Pew Poll that says only 8% of people in the US know someone who is transgender compared to almost 90% of people who know someone on the LGB spectrum.
The good news is that these numbers are on the rise. According to a recent Human Rights Campaign poll, 22% of Americans now know or work with someone who is transgender. This is up from 17% the year before and almost triple to previous Pew Poll. Acceptance for the transgender community is also on the rise; the same poll suggests that a full two thirds of people have a favorable opinion of people who are Trans.
The bad news is that according to the Williams Institute, 41% of people who are transgender or gender non-conforming have attempted suicide compared to the national average of 4.6%. The study goes on to state that trans men are most impacted with a 46% attempt rate and trans women at a 42% attempt rate. These numbers are staggering and they point to a systemic lack of resources for people who are transgender and gender non-conforming. That is where Trans Lifeline steps in.
Launched in November of 2014 by Greta Martela and Nina Chaubal, Trans Lifeline is the only suicide prevention hotline specifically created for the transgender community and fully staffed by people who are transgender and gender non-conforming. Utilizing more than 200 trained staff members with another 500 in training; Trans Lifeline is taking an average of 60 calls per day and has seen influxes as high as 90 in a day. During the recent Bruce Jenner interview on 20/20, Trans Lifeline took 44 calls between the time the show began to air and 11:00pm, proving that there is a need for a Trans only operated suicide hotline.
Trans Lifeline’s goal is to prevent self harm and they invite the Trans community to call when in need. Having called the line myself in January of this year, I can personally tell you that having someone immediately understand my needs and address the dysphoria I was feeling at the time was an instant relief, however, I was informed that I only one hour of the 513 hours Trans Lifeline spent on the phone in January. Thinking 513 hours was a lot, Greta commented, “That’s pretty mild.”
People struggling with gender identity have a very specific need that suicide hotlines available to the general public have no idea how to treat. Although it’s not our intention to diminish the validity of national suicide hotlines, Trans Lifeline is specific to the trans community and understands our specific needs.
This inaugural blog post is intended to lay the ground work for a transparent organization, but most of all, to help readers, callers, staff members, donors and the general public to know that running a non-profit organization takes time, effort, training and above all, money. In order to run a transparent organization, Trans Lifeline will be communicating with you on a weekly basis and it is Trans Lifeline’s mission to serve the transgender community in its time of need.
If you are not sure whether you should call or not, then call +1877–565–8860 in the US and +1877–330–6366 in Canada. From the homepage of the website, you are able to see how many volunteers are on-call as well as who they are. Calls are automatically forwarded via computer program to a volunteers’ phone where ever they may be located. It’s free, it’s confidential, and most of all, it’s dedicated to the well being of your health.
— Claire Renee Kohner