Data released last week revealed discrimination trends and disparities for transgender people in Pennsylvania.
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) sponsored the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, which examined 27,715 transgender respondents across the nation on their experiences in areas such as health, public accommodations and employment. Equality Pennsylvania, in conjunction with NCTE, released the Pennsylvania-specific results, which included 1,171 respondents.
Highlights from the Pennsylvania report included:
- One-third of respondents are living in poverty
- 11 percent are currently unemployed
- 16 percent who have been employed reported losing a job due to gender identity or expression
- 77 percent who were out or perceived as transgender from kindergarten through 12th grade experienced harassment, assault, harsher discipline and prohibition from dressing according to gender identity
- 21 percent experienced housing discrimination, including eviction due to their transgender status
- 22 percent of respondents who experienced homelessness avoided staying in a shelter due to fear of mistreatment for being transgender
“In the face of dangerous legislation that keeps popping up in states all over the nation, our work to educate the public is more important than ever before,” Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE, said in a statement. “Our survey speaks to what we already know: Transgender people experience rampant discrimination and endure substantial obstacles to meeting their most fundamental needs. We hope this state-specific information will inspire policymakers on the local, state and federal levels to enact policies that improve lives, not make them worse.”
The anonymous survey allowed participants to share personal stories.
“I came out [in] 2015,” one participant wrote. “I’ve held [three] jobs since coming out. At all [three jobs] I’ve been sexually harassed, made to feel worthless to the company and, worst of all, denied my right to the restroom. Everyday [sic] I cry when it comes time to work ... I battle suicidal thoughts daily because I’m tired of being made to feel less, tired of the harassment and just want to be happy in my own skin.”
Equality Pennsylvania Executive Director Ted Martin told PGN the survey highlights the need for the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would ban LGBT discrimination. Additionally, he said people need to “keep talking about [these issues].”
“I think people are shocked when they learn these numbers because these are pretty high and pretty egregious,” Martin said. “Constantly talking about them is something Equality Pennsylvania will always do — to legislators [and] to the public — so the lives of transgender people are not forgotten, ignored or erased.”
Martin referenced the Transgender Survey in a letter addressed to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission on behalf of Equality PA, in which he voiced support for the commission’s proposed guidance to treat LGBT discrimination as sex discrimination.