Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Study Reveals Widespread Discrimination Against Transgender People

Transgender Pride Flag
At a press conference held on Friday morning, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLT) and the National Center for Transgender Equality released the results of the most comprehensive study to date of discrimination against transgender/transexual and gender non-conforming Americans.

The groundbreaking study, titled "Injustice at Every Turn", was based on the survey responses of 6,450 people and reveals some very disturbing figures:

●    Respondents were nearly four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, with household income of less than $10,000.

●    Respondents were twice as likely to be unemployed compared to the population as a whole. Half of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment or other mistreatment in the workplace, and one in four were fired because of their gender identity or expression.

●    While discrimination was pervasive for the entire sample, it was particularly pronounced for people of color. African-American transgender respondents fared far worse than all others in many areas studied.

●    Housing discrimination was also common. 19% reported being refused a home or apartment and 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity or expression. One in five respondents experienced homelessness because of their gender identity or expression.

●    An astonishing 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to only 1.6% of the general population.

●    Discrimination in health care and poor health outcomes were frequently experienced by respondents. 19% reported being refused care due to bias against transgender or gender-nonconforming people, with this figure even higher for respondents of color. Respondents also had over four times the national average of HIV infection.

●    Harassment by law enforcement was reported by 22% of respondents and nearly half were uncomfortable seeking police assistance.

●    Despite the hardships they often face, transgender and gender non-conforming persons persevere. Over 78% reported feeling more comfortable at work and their performance improving after transitioning, despite the same levels of harassment in the workplace.

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE said, “Reading these results is heartbreaking on a personal level—each of these facts and figures represents pain and hardship endured by real people, every single day. This survey is a call to the conscience of every American who believes that everyone has the right to a fair chance to work hard, to have a roof overhead, and to support a family. Equality, not discrimination, is the ideal that Americans believe in, have fought for, and need to apply here.

Said Rea Carey, Executive Director of the Task Force, “By shedding light on the discrimination that transgender Americans face, this study poses a challenge to us all. No one should be out of a job, living in poverty, or faced with sub-par health care simply because of their gender identity or expression. The scope of the problem is clear, and now we must come together to solve it.”

What does as it say about a society ~ and as a community ~ that we would rather see people starving, naked, sick and living in the streets just because they don't fit into our gender and sexual comfort zones? I think it says we are pretty pathetic and have a long way to go to fully embrace the diversity we claim to celebrate.

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