The Trevor Project LGBTQ Youth Survey is Founded on Faulty Assumptions and Questionable Data

by | Aug 16, 2023 | Transgender Agenda

The survey doesn’t say what they think it says.

For the past few years, the Trevor Project has conducted an annual survey of LGBTQ+ youth on a variety of subjects. The group use the results to proclaim the risks of suicide and other harmful behaviors among transgender kids and LGBTQ youth in general. Then the constellation of other organizations and media outlets cite them in their campaign to normalize pronoun enforcement, chemical castration, and genital mutilation of youth, under the label “gender-affirming” care.

Yet the project’s methodology and statistics reveal how the survey falls flat in scientific rigor and solid baseline assumptions. This calls into question the entire methodology of the annual study, and the conclusions it draws.

Conclusions Not Supported By the Survey

In the 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People, The Trevor Project makes this provocative claim:

The Trevor Project’s 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People amplifies the experiences of more than 28,000 LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 across the United States. This survey gives a voice to LGBTQ young people — at a time when their existence is unfairly at the center of national political debates and state legislatures have introduced and implemented a record number of anti-LGBTQ policies.

For the fifth consecutive year, these data underscore that anti-LGBTQ victimization contributes to the higher rates of suicide risk reported by LGBTQ young people and that most who want mental health care are unable to get it.

Among the project’s key findings, “41 percent of LGBTQ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year,” while fewer than 40 percent of those surveyed found their home to be “LGBTQ affirming.” Meanwhile, “Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ young people said their mental health was poor most of the time or always due to anti-LGBTQ policies and legislation.”

Perhaps most provocatively, the study claims that “nearly 2 in 3 LGBTQ young people said that hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ people at school made their mental health a lot worse.”

And finally, the survey claims greater LGBT acceptance leads to lower rates of suicide:

Transgender and nonbinary young people who reported that all of the people they live with respect their pronouns reported lower rates of attempting suicide.

Where’s the Proof?

In a classic case of mistaking correlation for causation, the Trevor Project uses these results to advocate for things like “safe spaces” in schools, proper pronoun use to affirm students’ “gender choice,” opposition to conversion therapy, and encouraging parents to accept the kids’ chosen sexual lifestyle.

But how were these results gathered? The Trevor Project reported its survey methodology on its website:

A quantitative cross-sectional design was used to collect data through an online survey platform between September 1 and December 12, 2022. A sample of individuals ages 13 to 24 who resided in the United States was recruited via targeted ads on social media. No recruitment was conducted via The Trevor Project’s website or social media channels …. In order to ensure the representativeness of the sample, targeted recruitment was conducted to ensure adequate sample sizes with respect to geography, gender identity, and race/ethnicity …. Each question related to mental health and suicide was preceded by a message stating, “If at any time you need to talk to someone about your mental health or thoughts of suicide, please call The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.”

Notice that? Survey respondents originated 100 percent from targeted social media ads. Surveys of this nature are notoriously unreliable, because the sample consists only of those who are prone to responding to ads and filling out surveys. The report fails to reveal how the conductors of the survey targeted these ads.

Additionally, the project doesn’t release the top-line data or survey questionnaire on its website. Independent reviewers cannot, therefore, examine the way the survey structured the questions, or even which questions were asked. The survey speaks of an algorithmic screening process that rejected a percentage of the responses, but doesn’t say what criteria they used for the screening.

Most importantly, the Trevor Project doesn’t say whether surveyors asked questions designed to screen for variables, such as whether the respondent had experienced adverse mental health effects before they realized they identified as LGBTQ. It’s impossible to say whether the respondents were prone to mental health issues independent of their identified sexuality.

Others have pointed this out:

We ALL know the trans suicide stats are blatant lies. The ‘research’ they did was self selected trans people who used an online form asking if they had even thought of suicide. No control group. No checking for Co-morbid conditions or indeed whether they selected themselves because they wanted to contribute to the trans narrative of victimhood. It’s embarrassing how poor academics standards have become since this ideology was invented.

Other Studies Potentially Refute Trevor’s Claims

Long-term studies in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and other European countries have found suicide rates among trans youth that are far lower than those implied (but not explicitly stated) by the Trevor Project—well under 1 percent. No causal effect has yet emerged that clearly links “gender-affirming care” to more positive mental health outcomes, or curbing suicide among young people who identify as transgender or LGBTQ.

In fact, some studies have shown higher suicide rates for those who have partially or fully transitioned. A recent long-term study in Denmark, which followed thousands of transgender adults for four decades, shows a significantly higher rate of suicide post-transition than for the population as a whole:

Transgender people in the country had 7.7 times the rate of suicide attempts and 3.5 times the rate of suicide deaths compared with the rest of the population, according to the records analyzed in the study, though suicide rates in all groups decreased over time. And transgender people in Denmark died — by suicide or other causes — at younger ages than others.

The authors of the new report identified nearly 3,800 transgender people in Denmark by pulling data from two sources: hospital records and applications for legal gender changes. Among that group, nearly 43 percent had a psychiatric diagnosis, compared with 7 percent of the nontransgender group. [Emphasis added.]

Denmark has had remarkably open sex-change laws for many decades and the government has reliable data going back at least to 1980. The result, at least in Denmark, of a society open and inviting to gender transition is a suicide rate significantly higher than that of the general population.

Other surveys, similar to that conducted by the Trevor Project, have faced similar unanswered questions as to their methodology.

What’s the Agenda?

Understanding the viewpoint and agenda of those conducting the survey can also offer clues as to their bias. The Trevor Project boldly proclaims its bias on their website by saying, “Our original research is examined, in depth, through the lens of intersectionality by way of our national survey, research briefs & reports, and peer-reviewed journal articles.”

Intersectionality is a term coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, a college professor and co-founder of the African American Policy Forum, that defines hierarchies of oppression. Like Critical Race Theory, it draws on Marxist origins to define societal ills in terms of power dynamics, rejecting the focus on personal liberty and equality found in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.

The Trevor Project and its research offer the same power struggle framework to define the oppression it sees in the world.

On top of that, throughout its web and social media presence, the Trevor Project consistently uses language like, “the gender assigned at birth,” as if filling out a birth certificate prior to around 2018 or so constituted some sort of crime against gender.

The “lens of intersectionality” clearly creates a bias towards grievance studies and hierarchies of victimhood that reveals the agenda—and reveals that the study design had an obvious goal in mind. In short, it was designed to come up with data to fit the end goal.

Many Unanswered Questions

Despite their best efforts to present a conclusion that the only way to avoid suicide among LGBTQ youth must center around affirmation, several questions remain unanswered:

  • What other factors could lead to higher-than-average suicide rates among young people considering gender transition?
  • Has the increasingly popular trend of declaring oneself non-binary actually caused suicidal ideation among young people?
  • How many children simply go through thinking about gender as a fad, or a phase, that they’d eventually outgrow?
  • How can we explain the higher rates of suicide among adults who have begun and/or completed transitioning, and still support the idea of gender-affirming care?
  • What happens when a child transitions, only to come to believe they’ve made a mistake?

The Trevor Project and its survey reject these questions as irrelevant and harmful. And yet those questions persist, without sufficient study.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Effort to Undermine Democracy. You can find all his work at www.whoownsthedems.net.

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