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As Battle over Transgender Bathroom Policy Rages, Legacy Warns of Mental Health Consequences

HOUSTON – Legacy Community Health, one of the nation’s largest community health centers with 22 locations – six in in KIPP schools – in Southeast Texas, today warned of the mental health consequences of the political battle over bathroom use for transgender students. The concern comes following the negative reaction by some to the Obama Administration guidelines encouraging public schools nationwide to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

“Debate is a good thing, but the mean-spirited rhetoric around bathroom usage is incredibly damaging to our young transgender patients,” said Dr. Jennifer Feldman, a Legacy pediatrician specializing in transgender care. “They are eight times as depressed and much more likely to attempt suicide as the rest of the population, a reality we urge school officials across Texas to keep in mind. The bathroom is already a dangerous place for transgender youth, more so now with the heightened attention. I don’t want my patients pushed into even higher-risk categories.”

More than 40% of transgender Americans try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute. A study earlier this year correlates the high suicide rates of transgender teenagers with bathroom bans.

Legacy has built one of the few transgender practices in Texas and sees about 1,000 transgender patients of all ages per year.

Legacy Community Health, a not-for-profit Federally Qualified Health Center, provides comprehensive care to over 85,000 community members regardless of their ability to pay. The agency, a United Way of Greater Houston agency, provides adult primary care, HIV/AIDS care, pediatrics, OB/GYN and maternity, dental, vision and behavioral health.