Under the Dome

Transgender suicide hotline reports spike in calls following House Bill 2

Members of the The Human Rights Campaign, Equality NC Advancement , Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund and LGBT advocates held a press conference on the front steps of the North Carolina General Assembly updating efforts underway to repeal HB2, in front of the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C. Thursday, April 14, 2016. From left, Tracy Hollister. LGBT Advocate, Chad Griffin, HRC President, Candis Cox-Daniels, Transgender Advocate, Matt Hirschy, Equality NC Advancement Director and Alaina Kupec, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Board Member.
Members of the The Human Rights Campaign, Equality NC Advancement , Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund and LGBT advocates held a press conference on the front steps of the North Carolina General Assembly updating efforts underway to repeal HB2, in front of the Legislative Building in Raleigh, N.C. Thursday, April 14, 2016. From left, Tracy Hollister. LGBT Advocate, Chad Griffin, HRC President, Candis Cox-Daniels, Transgender Advocate, Matt Hirschy, Equality NC Advancement Director and Alaina Kupec, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Board Member. cliddy@newsobserver.com

A San Francisco-based suicide hotline that helps transgender people says it has noticed an increase in distress calls since North Carolina passed House Bill 2.

Trans Lifeline posted on its website that calls “have doubled since NC law passed.” Co-founder and executive director Greta Martela says the service has received 27 calls from North Carolina since the law was passed last month.

“In March, our busiest day was 202 calls,” Martela said. “In April, we had one day that was 357 calls. This was such a clear trend when I looked at the numbers and charted them.”

According to a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, 41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide at some point in their lives – compared to just 4.6 percent of the general population.

“I have no doubt that lives are currently being lost because of these types of laws,” Martela said. “It’s hard to convince yourself that things are going to get better when all you see is bad news about legislation targeting trans people being proposed.”

Asked if House Bill 2 has been mentioned by callers, Martela said “that’s kind of all that people are talking about in our community right now ... it would be an absurd law if it wasn’t actually hurting people.”

Trans Lifeline is currently trying to raise $8,000 because, it says, it doesn’t have the resources to handle the call volume.

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