Right-wing news outlet The Federalist seized on the alleged suicide attempt of imprisoned soldier Chelsea Manning to argue that the high rates of attempted suicide in the transgender community are not the result of discrimination, as mainstream medical organizations report. Instead, Federalist author Daniel Payne wrote that “transgenderism is a deleterious psychological affliction” and that a “sane society” should “steer transgender people away from their delusions.”
On July 6, the Associated Press reported that Chelsea Manning -- the soldier and transgender woman imprisoned for sending classified information to WikiLeaks -- was “briefly hospitalized” this week. CNN and TMZ both reported that the hospitalization was the result of a suicide attempt, citing unnamed defense officials.
In a July 7 article responding to these reports, Federalist senior contributor Daniel Payne argued that “the transgender suicide rate isn’t due to discrimination.” Payne dismissed a peer-reviewed article in the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as the consensus of research showing that those who are are harassed, bullied, victimized, discriminated against or rejected by family and friends are more likely to attempt suicide. Instead, Payne falsely maintained that “successful suicide” correlates to “the mental illness, y’all” and pushes for a “sane society” to “steer transgender people away from their delusions”:
Chelsea Manning—who became a male-to-female transgender after going to prison as Bradley Manning for giving reams of classified information to WikiLeaks—allegedly attempted suicide earlier this week. Manning was taken to a prison hospital after an apparent attempted hanging.
This is not a surprise: “transgender” individuals have an alarmingly high suicide rate, somewhere north of 40 percent by some reliable estimates. A variety of explanations are often given for this astronomical figure, chief among them that transgender people are driven to kill themselves in such large numbers because they suffer from discrimination, bigotry and hatred.
Zack Ford of ThinkProgress blames the high suicide rate on “rejection, discrimination, violence, harassment, and the negative life circumstances that result from such treatment.” Last month the New England Journal of Medicine attributed to “substantial discrimination” a great many negative psychological conditions among transgender individuals, including a higher suicide rate.
It’s the Mental Illness, Ya’ll
Why? Because discrimination is almost certainly a nondeterminate factor in general suicide rates. Mental illness, on the other hand, is very clearly a motivating factor in a great many suicides: the rate of successful suicide is extremely correlative with conditions of mental illness. Since transgenderism is a deleterious psychological affliction, it is wholly unsurprising to find higher rates of suicide among that class of people.
A sane society would be advocating for robust, ameliorative psychological therapy to steer transgender people away from their delusions. Instead, we indulge this sickness on an industrial scale, building television shows around the phenomenon and promoting it even unto the point of gross caricature.