In 2011 The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce put out a Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey titled “Injustice at Every Turn” where they surveyed over 6450 respondents.
Some of the things that stuck out in the report were that in general people of color, in general, fared worse than that of the white participants across the board with respondents from the African American community faring the worst. Most transgender respondents were found to live in extreme poverty with 41% all reporting to have attempted suicide. Now compare that to the general population’s rate of 1.6%, meaning transgender individuals are forty times more likely to attempt suicide. The 41% then rises to 55% for the individuals who lost their job as a result of bias. Stable income and having a job, in general, gives people tremendous boosts of confidence, you feel good about yourself along with a sense of inherence.
The rate of unemployment found by this study is also staggering, respondents reported an unemployment rate doubt that of the general population and for people of color that number was found to be four times the national unemployment rate. For those that did have active employment, the study found that 90% of those experienced harassment and mistreatments.
The difficulty of finding work when you dress opposite of the gender stated on your ID or application is not only embarrassing but humiliating in itself, for me the most nerve-wracking is the first 30 seconds after I meet whoever is interviewing me. The first phrase always out of their mouth is “Wait are you, Jenny?” As a society we have ways to go before the blatant disrespect and misgendering is fixed however there are companies that have started to pave the way and have transgender-friendly policies that also offer health care benefits. Recently The Business Insider published an article where they highlighted some of these companies, among these were Apple, AT&T, and Nike.
The importance of acquiring health care benefits is a huge deal for the transgender community, if you can now find a plan that helps pay for your transition then a huge amount of stress can be taken from you because the average cost of transition is about 20,000. In response, the study noted that 78% of these that already had transitioned from one gender felt more comfortable and their work performance was significantly higher.
The Business Insiders article went on to quote Deena Fidas, the head of the Human Rights campaign as saying
“Employers that take meaningful steps to facilitate greater transgender inclusion in their workplaces, from non-discrimination protections to inclusive benefits, are not just doing the right thing for workers, but they are strategically setting themselves apart from other companies competing for talent and innovation.”
As companies see other employers and fellow competitors start taking the necessary steps forward towards equality we can be hopeful and in turn, we as a community can show our support. We are nowhere near close to fixing this huge discriminatory problem, but any step forward is still us moving.