Health and Wellness

Reports: Transgender Americans face staggering rates of poverty, violence


In a year when transgender Americans are experiencing unprecedented visibility in the State of the Union address, the media, and popular culture, while simultaneously suffering extreme violence, two new reports released Wednesday detail the widespread discrimination and inequities the transgender population faces, particularly transgender women and transgender people of color.

From high rates of poverty, harassment, violence, poor health, limited job opportunities, and isolation from their larger communities, transgender people are among the most vulnerable communities in the country.

“Transgender Americans are experiencing a unique moment in history, as growing visibility leads to greater familiarity and understanding of transgender lives,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of MAP. “At the same time, many transgender people, particularly transgender women and transgender people of color, still face enormous barriers to their safety, health, and well-being.”

The two reports, Understanding Issues Facing Transgender Americans and Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being Transgender in America, are co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the Center for American Progress, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), and the Transgender Law Center.

The two reports detail the myriad issues transgender Americans face. Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being Transgender in America, paints a stark portrait of the economic insecurities that leave transgender people at high rates of unemployment and poverty.

Transgender Americans face clear financial penalties simply because they are transgender and are left economically vulnerable because of two primary failures of law, the report finds:

  • Pervasive discrimination and a lack of legal protections mean that transgender people struggle to find work and safe housing, make less on the job, and have higher medical costs than their non-transgender peers.
  • Failure to adequately protect transgender students means that transgender people and their families often face a hostile, unsafe, or unwelcoming school environments.

    Harassment, bullying, and violence make it difficult, if not impossible, for transgender students to obtain the skills and education they need to succeed. As a result, they are ill-prepared to compete for good jobs and see reduced earnings and fewer opportunities for successful jobs and careers.

“In some cases, employment discrimination, lower wages, and lack of legal protections make it harder for transgender people to cover basic necessities like rent, food, clothing, and healthcare, let alone save for the future,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center. “In other instances, legal inequalities mean that transgender people are forced to pay higher costs for needs like housing, healthcare, and education.”

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