New Data on Transgender and Non-binary Community Is A Call To Action For Us All

PRESS RELEASE: 24 September 2019

The first study of its kind in Aotearoa, Counting Ourselves reveals a broad picture of the lives of trans and non-binary people. Some of these results are alarming, and signify a call to action from the rainbow community to mainstream services and policy makers, says RainbowYOUTH. 

The Counting Ourselves study, run by the University of Waikato, surveyed over 1000 trans and non-binary New Zealanders about many facets of their lives. Some of the findings include: 

  • Trans and non-binary people experience sexual violence at more than four times the rate than the general population.

  • Participants were more than twice as likely to have experienced discrimination than the general population.  

  • More than half of the participants had seriously thought about attempting suicide, and 12% had made a suicide attempt. 

“This data adds further evidence to what we see on the ground every day at RainbowYOUTH,” says the organisation’s Support Manager Victoria Trow. “Our mental health systems are failing our young people. They can’t afford the services they need, public services are too full to take in people except those who are in the more dire state of mental health distress, and our rangatahi are often mistreated or disregarded when they do access them”. 

Community organisations are working hard to address the shortfalls created by the lack of responsiveness in the mainstream health system, and the report emphasises the positive impacts that connection and community have for trans and non-binary people. Over half of respondents reported feeling a sense of connection with other non-binary and trans people, and participants who had supportive whānau were almost half as likely to have attempted suicide than those who did not.

To increase the availability of protective factors such as community and whānau support, RainbowYOUTH, along with OUTLine, has recently been contracted by the four Northern Region DHBs to deliver a trans peer-support service in Auckland and Northland. To address the lack of expertise in mainstream services, RainbowYOUTH have recently partnered to create a practical guide to assist mental health professionals in correct ways of working with the rainbow communities. 

But the Counting Ourselves report recommends that more support must be provided to community organisations doing the work - specifically organisations and programmes that are led by trans and non-binary communities.

“There’s huge ground to make up,” says Frances Arns, RainbowYOUTH Executive Director, “the evidence base provided by Counting Ourselves will greatly improve our ability to advocate for the needs of our communities effectively, and back up what we see in our work with trans and non-binary people.”

“The findings of this data should be taken very seriously by our government and relevant agencies,” Arns stresses, “the disparities between the trans and non-binary communities and the general population is completely unacceptable”. 


To read the Counting Ourselves Report, please visit:

For information about the transgender peer-support service, please visit:

To read the Supporting Aotearoa’s Rainbow People: A Practical Guide for Mental Health Professionals, please visit:

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