Injustice at every turn
Updated: March 4, 2011 at 4:59 pm
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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s (NGLTF) and National Center for Transgender Equality’s (NCTE) survey has been percolating for the last 12 months. Finally, groups have released findings from the most comprehensive survey ever directed toward the trans community. The results are seriously disturbing. Suffice it to say, preliminarily, that standards of living and working for trans identified individuals are well below national averages. And, suicide rates are soaring.
Over 6,000 transgender and gender non-conforming individuals were queried on an wide range of issues. Areas covered in this in-depth report include education, employment, health, family life, housing, public accommodations, identification documents, police and incarceration. Much of this column will be comprised of actual citations from the study. The conclusions cannot be overstressed. There really is injustice at every turn!
Three meta trends were remarkable (quoting from report):
1. Discrimination was pervasive throughout the entire sample, yet the combination of anti-transgender bias and persistent, structural racism was especially devastating. People of color in general fare worse than white participants across the board, with African-American transgender respondents faring worse than all others in many areas examined.
2. Respondents lived in extreme poverty. Our sample was nearly four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000/year compared to the general population.
3. A staggering 41 percent of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6 percent of the general population, 2 percent with rates rising for those who lost a job due to bias (55 percent), were harassed/bullied in school (51 percent), had low household income, or were the victim of physical assault (61 percent) or sexual assault (64 percent).
Those trends are startling, but the report contained much more information.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents reported harassment as a student in grades K through 12, 35 percent of it defined as physical violence. There is evidence of a consistent negative impact of school experiences upon individuals throughout their lives as a result of these experiences.
As might be expected, these conclusions evince serious problems. Unemployment is fully double the national rate. Ninety percent of respondents reported harassment in the workplace, 46 percent had negative job outcomes like having been fired or denied promotion and 26 percent had actually been fired. Across the board, the impact of adverse employment scenarios was marked in all respondents.
Housing discrimination & homelessness
Nineteen percent had been refused housing and 11 percent had been evicted directly as a result of their gender identity and/or expression. Two percent are currently homeless, although 19 percent reported having experienced homelessness at one time or another. Of this group, 55 percent had been victims of discrimination in emergency and shelter housing. As far as home ownership goes, the number of trans persons who own their own homes falls well below the national average — less than half: 32 percent contrasted with the 67 percent national average.
According to the report: “Fifty-three percent (53 percent) of respondents reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.”
That’s over one-half and wholly unacceptable. Places where respondents had experienced discrimination include retail stores, restaurants, hospitals, police stations, transportation carriers, legal clinics and a handful of other settings. Treatment of gender diverse persons ranged from services denied to harassment and even physical violence.
Acquisition if ID documents
Only one-fifth of respondents had fully matching and corrected IDs. One-third hadn’t updated any ID documents. This includes, but is not limited to, birth certificates, social security cards and driver’s licenses. Regarding the latter, 41 percent reported not having a license which matched their gender expression.
Police and Prison
One-fifth of interviewees stated that they had experienced harassment at the hands of police. Of those who had been incarcerated, 16 percent had been subject to physical violence and 15 percent had been sexually violated. Almost half of the respondents expressed fear if they had to interact with the police.
Healthcare (quoting from report):
“Health outcomes for all categories of respondents show the appalling effects of social and economic marginalization, including much higher rates of HIV infection, smoking, drug and alcohol use and suicide attempts than the general population.
“Refusal of care: 19 percent of our sample reported being refused medical care due to their transgender or gender non-conforming status, with even higher numbers among people of color in the survey.
“Uninformed doctors: 50 percent of the sample reported having to teach their medical providers about transgender care.
“High HIV rates: Respondents reported over four times the national average of HIV infection, with rates higher among transgender people of color.
“Postponed care: Survey participants reported that when they were sick or injured, many postponed medical care due to discrimination (28 percent) or inability to afford it (48 percent).”
The report finds that 63 percent of those who responded had experienced discrimination as a result of their identification as trans and 23 percent had experienced catastrophic discrimination which may have included several or many discriminatory events or prolonged discrimination.
“It is part of social and legal convention in the United States to discriminate against, ridicule, and abuse transgender and gender non-conforming people within foundational institutions such as the family, schools, the workplace and health care settings, every day,” the report reads. “Instead of recognizing that the moral failure lies in society’s unwillingness to embrace different gender identities and expressions, society blames transgender and gender non-conforming people for bringing the discrimination and violence on themselves.
Nearly every system and institution in the United States, both large and small, from local to national, is implicated by this data. Medical providers and health systems, government agencies, families, businesses and employers, schools and colleges, police departments, jail and prison systems — each of these systems and institutions is failing daily in its obligation to serve transgender and gender non-conforming people, instead subjecting them to mistreatment ranging from commonplace disrespect to outright violence, abuse and the denial of human dignity. The consequences of these widespread injustices are human and real, ranging from unemployment and homelessness to illness and death.”
Injustice at every turn, indeed. : :
— Comments and corrections can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Robbi Cohn, email email@example.com.
Preliminary “Injustice at Every Turn” Findings (8 pages)
Full Report (228 pages)
Part-by-part examination of the report by Robyn Elaine Serven
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