A blog series about LGBT people at work. Part I gives information about a new report released about transgender discrimination.
On February 4th, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force jointly released a report on transgender discrimination called “Injustice at Every Turn” using data collected from over 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming participants.
The comprehensive study is the first of its kind and uses responses from people from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. It shows a pervasive collective experience of discrimination in all levels public and private.
Some of the more alarming data include:
- an extreme over-representation of discriminatory experiences amongst transgender and gender non-conforming people who are African-American
- a rate of unemployment twice the national average (and nearly four times the national average for African-American respondents)
- an attempted suicide rate of 41% (compared to 1.6% of the general population)
What is comparatively helpful about this study is it includes information about respondents’ resiliency. For example:
“The vast majority (78%) of those who transitioned from one gender to the other reported that they felt more comfortable at work and their job performance improved, despite high levels of mistreatment. “
“Despite high levels of harassment, bullying and violence in school, many respondents were able to obtain an education by returning to school.”
Of course, there is much to be done in the realms of education and passing anti-discrimination laws, but this study and its subsequent report gives validity to the day-to-day struggles of members of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities. Furthermore, statistics collected in this study may be used to bolster arguments for passing tougher anti-discrimination laws.
For example, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), currently stalling in Congress, would protect citizens from being fired or not hired from a job due to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Given that many lesbian, gay, bisexual AND heterosexual individuals express a gender which may not conform to the conventional ideals of “man” and “woman,” the language “gender identity” is supremely important in this bill. [According to the actual text of the bill (H.R. 3017), "The term 'gender identity' means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth."]
It is still legal in the majority of the U.S. to be fired or not hired because of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Pennsylvania currently protects only its State workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
[Click here to read part two of the LGBT in the Workplace series.]