Resilience and the Transgender Community -- Living Out Loud: Interview with Iden Campbell | Episode 13

What We Know about Transgender Suicide

41% of adults who identify as transgender have attempted suicide (versus 4.6% of U.S. general population and 10-20% of LGB adults). The issues driving this despair are usually best understood through a lens of social justice.

Discrimination, trauma and the consequences of minority stress are often at the root of suicidal despair within the trans community (AFSP). Rejection by friends and family is common among people who identify as transgender, and conversely when trans people have strong support they are significantly less likely to die by suicide. Harassment and assaults are common for trans people at work and at school and can even lead to internalized transphobia. All too often, people trying to "help" others who identify as trans force reparative or conversion "therapy" upon them, which is experienced as traumatic and is considered unethical. Thus, in order to "fix" the suicide issue among transgender people, we need to look beyond the individual and shift culture. We must fight injustice and advocate for safety. 

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Iden and I have become friends through our service together on the Consumer/Survivor Committee of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. In this podcast, Iden and I talk about his incredibly inspiring journey into activism and some take-away messages about building resilience.

About Iden Campbell

Iden Campbell was born biologically a female, raised as a female, and later in life transitioned to living as a male. He was first diagnosed with depression in the third grade and has lived with depression and suicidal thoughts for much of his life. 

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Iden spent most of his adulthood living androgynous, as neither male or female, dressing and behaving as genderless as possible in order to -- in his words "hide and survive." Iden has lived through his own suicide attempt and also survived the loss of his partner to suicide.

Then in 2007 he read the 2007 Newsweek article entitled; “The Mystery of Gender” , and the article gave him a new outlook on living. Now he finally feels hope that his life could now be less painful, living as the gender has always felt inside.

“The transgender community is extremely resilient,” said Campbell in an Op Ed piece for the New York Times. “We have lived through some horrific shared experiences. I’m thankful to all who came before me, those who made it possible for me to now live out loud in my skin. I’m grateful to be here at this amazing turning point in the history of the trans community.”

Today, Iden is a nationally known activist in the transgender community, speaking on suicide prevention, transgender health and wellness. He is the Founder and Executive Director of The Campbell Center, a peer-run agency in Washington, D.C. for individuals living with mental health and addictions challenges.

Among many other acknowledgements of his leadership Iden also won the 2013 National LGBT Leadership Award at the Alternatives Conference in Austin, TX.

You can connect with Iden on Twitter and Instagram @IdenCampbell and on Facebook @TheCampbellCenter.

Show Notes


Living out loud is the theme of this podcast. We encourage you to use this graphic to celebrate the resilience of the transgender community and link back to this page.