DC Office of Human Rights' report shows discrimination against transgender job applicants

This week, the DC Office of Human Rights released a groundbreaking report that shows high rates of discrimination against the transgender community during the job application phase. The study is the first known government-conducted resume testing to focus on discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming job applicants.

The high rate of employment discrimination was calculated after 200 cover letters and resumes were submitted to fifty job openings, with each opening receiving two applications from individuals who appeared to be transgender and two applications from individuals who did not. The study was conducted by OHR over a six month period and tested District employers from the following sectors: universities, grocery, retail stores, hotels, restaurants and administrative positions.

Some key findings from the report are:

  • 48 percent of employers appeared to prefer at least one less-qualified applicant perceived as cisgender over a more-qualified applicant perceived as transgender. 
  • 33 percent of employers offered interviews to one or more less-qualified applicant(s) perceived as cisgender while not offering an interview to at least one of the more-qualified applicant(s) perceived as transgender. 
  • The applicant perceived as a transgender man with work experience at a transgender advocacy organization experienced the highest individual rate of discrimination. 
  • The restaurant industry had the highest percentage of responses perceived as discriminatory among the employment sectors tested, although the sample numbers are low and therefore not conclusive.

“Statistical and anecdotal evidence tells us transgender and gender non-conforming people are experiencing employment discrimination at very high rates, and this testing project confirms that unfortunate truth,” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio. “It is vital that government, the business community and advocates work together to end this chronic injustice affecting the transgender and gender non-conforming communities, both in the District and nationwide.”

The DC Office of Human Rights' findings support those of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, in which 47 percent of respondents reported having experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming.