The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are receiving significant media coverage for “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” released by the two organizations on Friday morning.
The report confirms and quantifies the struggles that transgender and gender non-conforming people face in various aspects of their lives. “They don’t know from one interaction to the next whether they will be treated with respect and dignity. It’s not the way people should be living their day-to-day life,” Rea Carey of the Task Force told the Associated Press. In an editorial for the Advocate, she continues: “Even with all I have seen over the years, the picture coming out of our study is deeply disturbing. … These are not problems that any of us who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, or civil rights-minded, progressive, or feminist can afford to ignore.”
Key findings showed that while discrimination is persistent among all members of the transgender community, it is especially devastating when combined with the effects of structural racism. Transgender people of color in general fared worse than white participants, while African Americans encountered more discrimination than all other groups in most areas. Respondents were also impoverished at much higher rates than the general population, with transgender people almost four times as likely to live in extreme poverty as cisgender (or non-transgender) people. One-fifth of respondents reported experiencing homelessness, and over half had been harassed or denied accommodations when trying to access public services (such as in hotels, restaurants, buses, and government agencies).
Another shocking finding was that 41% of those surveyed reported attempting suicide—more than 26 times the rate of 1.6% in the general population. These numbers were greatly related to other factors tested, increasing for people who had lost a job due to discrimination (an especially relevant factor because transgender people faced double the general rate of unemployment, and 90% faced discrimination at work), were harassed at school (which occurred to almost 8 out of every 10 people who were transgender or expressed gender non-conformity in grades K-12), had little household income, or were a victim of assault. But regardless of high levels of discrimination, transgender respondents reported feeling more comfortable at work after transitioning.
A representative sample of 6,450 people from all 50 states and U.S. territories participated in the study, which “provides critical data points for policymakers, community activists and legal advocates to confront the appalling realities documented here and press the case for equity and justice,” according to its writers. It is the largest report of its kind so far.
The analysis comes at a bittersweet moment as the transgender community’s LGB neighbors find acceptance in the military and look forward to a possible increase in marriage equality rights in the near future. Meanwhile, transgender people remain prohibited from serving in the military, and the effort to pass a federal law banning workplace discrimination failed in large part due to the addition of gender identity as a protected category. Finally, Saturday Night Live recently used transgender people as the basis for one of its skits, reflecting an atmosphere of mockery towards them in American culture and prompting GLAAD and other organizations to take action.
The National Center for Transgender Equality uses education and advocacy to work to eliminate discrimination and violence against transgender people. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is a grassroots organization engaged in training and equipping citizens with the resources necessary to achieve complete equality for LGBT people. GLAAD encourages its readers to share their report with others, and urges media to highlight the stories of transgender and gender non-conforming people in a fair and accurate way.