7 Transgender and Non-Binary People Share How Drag Helped Their Mental Health

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Throughout the country and across the globe, many young transgender and non-binary people struggle with anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, due in part to societal and legislative mistreatment. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published earlier this year reveals that nearly 2% of high school students in the United States identify as transgender. Despite this growing statistic, conditions for transgender youth continue to be perilous: young transgender and non-binary students are often bullied in school and 35% have attempted suicide, according to the CDC report.

In this climate, bolstering the mental health of transgender youth is more important than ever. While it’s often seen as a form of expression or entertainment, performing drag can also act as way cope not just with negative societal pressures for queer people, but as a boon to mental health.

Drag is a tradition with a long and rich history for the LGBTQ community and beyond. While drag performances have risen in mainstream popularity lately, it has been a tradition in different forms for at least more than 100 years. Recently there has also been a spike in the popularity of drag culture among young transgender people, as performances are put up on college campuses and in queer youth groups across the country. For some young transgender people who are too often forced to conform to the limits of binary gender in an academic or social setting, performing drag can provide a space to express themselves fully and unashamedly, taking on a new wardrobe, name, and even identity in order to transcend the boundaries gender and radically pursue joy.

Here’s what seven transgender or non-binary young people have to say about what performing in drag means to them and how it impacts their mental health. Read more via Teen Vogue