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Socially Constructed Binaries & Youth Suicidality. Presentation Segment from “Bi-/Multi-Racial Adolescent Males At Risk For Suicidality Pierre Tremblay & Richard Ramsay CPS (Centre for Suicide Prevention) Research Symposium Calgary, Alberta April 3, 2003

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Socially Constructed Binaries& Youth Suicidality

Presentation Segment from

“Bi-/Multi-Racial Adolescent Males At Risk For Suicidality

Pierre Tremblay & Richard Ramsay

CPS (Centre for Suicide Prevention) Research Symposium

Calgary, Alberta

April 3, 2003

Note: Best Viewed in Explorer Browser

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The Bi-/Multi-Racial RealityA Dearth of Research

Racial and Ethnic Identity Models and Their Application:

Counseling Biracial Individuals.

Aldarondo, Felito (2001)

"Although the biracial population is growing, there remains a lack of

attention to the needs of this diverse group. The field of counselling

is no exception. Compared to the literature for monoracial individuals,

there is a dearth of empirical study and conceptual writing examining

racial and ethnic identity development among biracial people." (241)

Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 23(3): 238-255

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The New Color Complex: Appearances and Biracial Identity

Brunsma DL, Rockquemore KA (2001)

Re Book:The Multiracial Experience: Racial Borders as the New Frontier

Roots, Maria PP, Ed. (1996)

"Although it is generally considered the most comprehensive collection of research

on the Biracial population, the largest sample used in any of the studies included in

the anthology consisted of 31 respondents. Most of the studies in this text generalize

broadly from anecdotal, biographical, or small interview studies with fewer than

20 respondents." (231)

Re: Their Study of 177 Black/White Biracial Respondents

"The results indicate that Biracial individuals do make choices within

circumscribed cultural contexts and these understandings are influenced

not by skin color, but by an actor's assumption of how others perceive his

or her appearance." (Abstract: 225)

Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 1(3): 225-46.

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The Bi/Multi-Racial RealityA “No Man’s Land” Situation

Multiracial and Multiethnic Students: How They Must Belong.

Wardle, Francis (2001)

"Multiracial and multiethnic students are placed in a no-man's land

regarding ethnic and racial self-esteem at school. Although many

school books and classes include contributions by all the diverse

groups of people that make up the rich history of this nation, there

is no evidence of the existence and contributions of people of mixed

racial and ethnic heritage. Furthermore, with the official inclusion of

single-race students groups, celebration of holidays that highlight the

contributions of traditional groups, and the insistence by most school

officials that multiracial and multiethnic students select a single race

on official forms, these children are invisible." (12)

Multicultural Perspectives, 2(4): 11-16.

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“No Man’s Land” Binary Situations,The “You Should NOT Exist” Factor& Suicidality

  • Residential Schools for Aboriginal Children

  • Being Homosexual: Illegal & Mental Disorder

  • Then Ok for Homosexuals to Exist (as “lesser than”),

    • but….

  • Bisexual Individuals Should NOT Exist!

  • Males Should also NOT be Like Females!

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Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural AnxietyMarjorie Garber, 1992

“[The book is] about the anxiety many people experience when they

confront the indeterminacy of others whose existence in the borderland

between dichotomies – of race, class, nationality, profession, sanity –

challenges the binary rules of role laid down by almost every society,

insisting that you're either one thing or another, black or white, native

or alien, man or woman – and how, by doing so, they actually create


Binaries & Boundaries: Power & The “Lesser Ones”

Boundary Violators ?

Sex: Male / Female

Gender: Masculine /Feminine

Sexual Orientation: Hetero / Homo

Race: White / Black, Of Color

“US” / “THEM”: The “Lesser Than…”

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Bi/Multi-Racial Individuals: The Infamous BinariesAlso Apply to Sexuality, Sex & Gender

Words Used in Titles

of Paper & Article

Words Used for Sexuality /

Sex / Gender

Multiracial / Biracial

Multiethnic / Biethnic





Crossing Over

Cross Colors

Across Color Lines

Crossing the Date Line

Crossing the Color Line

Cross-Racial Identification



Crossing - Passing:

The Closet – All Categories

Transsexual, Transvestite

Transgender, Trannies

Gender Nonconformity or

Cross-Gender Identification

Journal of Transcultural Nursing, Transcultural Psychiatry

Words Always Re-Inscribe & Reinforce Binary Perceptions

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Higher Suicidality For The “Lesser Ones”Highest Suicidality in “No Man’s Land”

The Sexual Orientation Binary

Heterosexual / Homosexual

Bisexual = “No Man’s Land”

“Gay,” for Adolescents Now Means

“Being a Loser” in All Ways

The Gender Binary

Females = The Lesser Ones”

Males Like Females = Losers!

Femininity in Males =

“No Man’s Land

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Australia Mental Health Survey: Jorm AF, et al. (2002)Bisexual Adults = Sexual Orientation Binary Boundary Violators



: Ideation / Behavior

(Past 5 Years)

Males & Females, N = 5824:

78 Homosexual, 71 Bisexual

Ages: 20-24, 40-44

Statistical Significance Across Categories, p <= .001

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Massachusetts & Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Surveys:1995 & 1997 (Robin, Leah et al., 2002): Bisexual Adolescents = Sexual Orientation Binary Boundary Violators

Suicide Attempt Incidence & Cocaine Use




Massachusetts: N = 8,141

Vermont: N = 14,623

Adolescents Reporting Sex Partners of Opposite, Same, or Both Sex(es)

Caveat: Males / Females, Attempt Incidence Difference Greater for Males

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Suicidality: MSM (Men Who Have Sex With Men)Paul, Jay P et al., 2002







Percent of Study Sample

2,881 MSM Males: Stratigraphic Random Sample, U.S. Cities

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Homosexual Male Suicidality & Gender NonconformityFeminine Homosexual Males = Gender Boundary Violators

Attempted Suicide Incidence to Age 20



Feminine: n = 55

n = 274

Masculine: n = 244

n = 282

 Predominantly Homosexual 


Childhood Self-Rating on a “0 to 6” Femininity to Masculinity Scale

573 Predominantly Homosexual Male Adults (Bell & Weinberg, 1978)

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BEM: Femininity / Masculinity Categories & Suicidality136 Gay And Bisexual Male Youth: Age 14 - 21 YearsRemafedi, Farrow & Deisher (1991)



Lifetime Attempted Suicide Incidence


n = 31

n = 77

n = 28

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Higher Suicidality For The “Lesser Ones”Highest Suicidality in “No Man’s Land”

The Historically Accepted Ones in

North America = White

“Lesser Ones” = Of Color = Two Groups

One ‘Race’ / Ethnicity & Multi-’Racial’/Ethnic

Multi-’Racial’/Ethnic = “No Man’s Land

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1999 Oregon Youth Risk Behavior Survey

The Multi-Race “No Man’s Land”/“You Should NOT Exist” Factor

Attempted Suicide Incidence for Adolescent Males

by Race Groupings



n = 367

n = 1,536

N = 10,997

n = 9,094

Of Color

One Race


One Race


Note: Non-Responders to ‘Race’/Ethnicity Question are removed. N - 152