Transgender Americans Are More Likely to Be Unemployed and Poor

Aimee Stephens, seated center, listens during a news conference outside the Supreme Court. Stephens' case about her firing from a funeral home after her transition will determine transgender people's employment protections.

Aimee Stephens, seated center, listens during a news conference outside the Supreme Court. Stephens' case about her firing from a funeral home after her transition will determine transgender people's employment protections. AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

COMMENTARY | A new study found that transgender people had higher rates of poverty and worse health than otherwise comparable individuals who did not identify as transgender.

Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE.

The United States Supreme Court will issue a ruling this year in a landmark case that will determine whether transgender people—individuals whose sex assigned at birth does not match their current innate sense of being male, female, both or neither—are protected by federal law from employment discrimination.

At stake is whether transgender individuals can reasonably earn a living without fear of losing their jobs simply because they are transgender.

Our new study, published on Feb. 11, suggests that such protections are sorely needed. On nearly all measures of economic and social well-being, transgender people do much worse.

Little Is Known About Transgender People

We are scholars of economics, health and LGBT populations who wanted to find out about how transgender people fare economically.

A growing body of research on sexual minorities has steadily advanced over the past 25 years. However, when we first started working on this research project three years ago, we found little published work on the economic lives of transgender people.

Most research that did exist came only from studies of one or two progressive-leaning states, such as California or Massachusetts, or used “convenience” or “snowball” samples of transgender people where participants are recruited through social networks.

These types of data are useful, but they might not accurately reflect the general transgender population in the United States.

What We Found

This is where our study came in.

We used data from an annual telephone survey of over 400,000 individuals in the United States that asks people about their employment, income, health insurance coverage and overall health. It’s called the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.

Starting in 2014, this survey gave states the option to ask respondents their sexual orientation and gender identity. When asked “Are you transgender?” over 2,100 adults responded “yes.”

Although this is only a fraction of 1% of the total survey sample, this is a much larger sample of transgender people than has been used in other survey-based studies. And, importantly, it allowed us to examine transgender individuals from states as diverse as Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Idaho and Florida.

The most consistent pattern we found is that individuals who described themselves as transgender did much worse in aspects of their lives that affect their economic well-being—like educational attainment, employment and poverty status—than otherwise comparable individuals who did not identify as transgender.

This was especially true for employment. Transgender people were 11 percentage points less likely to be working compared to nontransgender, or cisgender, people.

We found that this effect was driven by two forces: Transgender people were more likely to be unemployed—that is, they would like to work but are not currently working—and much more likely to report that they are unable to work.

We speculate that transgender people may be unable to work due to a disability, poor health, lack of transportation or other structural barriers.

It’s also possible that transgender people have been turned away so many times by potential employers—possibly due to discrimination—that they are what economists aptly refer to as “discouraged,” and thus they report that they are “unable to (find) work.”

Our results also showed that transgender people had much lower rates of college education than nontransgender people. While 28% of nontransgender people in the survey said they had a college education, the same was true for only 14% of transgender respondents.

Even after accounting for lower college education rates, we found that transgender people had higher rates of poverty and worse health than otherwise comparable individuals who did not identify as transgender.

Rapidly Changing Policy

The landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2015 extended same-sex marriage throughout the United States. Since then, a phrase has emerged to describe the incomplete protection against employment discrimination afforded LBGT people: sexual minorities in most states can be “married on Sunday and fired on Monday.”

This is because there is currently no explicit federal employment protection barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Instead, sexual minorities must rely on a patchwork of state laws. Currently, 26 states have no explicit nondiscrimination protections for sexual minorities.

Of the 24 states with explicit nondiscrimination protections for sexual minorities, nearly all also protect transgender people. One state—Wisconsin—explicitly prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not on the basis of gender identity.

The state patchwork of legal protections for sexual and gender minorities has led to the case currently pending in the Supreme Court, RG & GR Funeral Homes v. EEOC. In this case, Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman, was fired from her job at a funeral home after her transition.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of RG & GR Funeral Homes, transgender Americans could be fired based on their transgender status in any state that currently lacks employment protections for transgender people.

Our research demonstrates that stark economic inequalities already exist for this unprotected group of Americans.

The Conversation

Christopher Carpenter is the E. Bronson Ingram professor of economics and the director of the Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab at Vanderbilt University and Gilbert Gonzales is an assistant professor of medicine, health and society at Vanderbilt University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
MN Water District and High School Collaborate on Stormwater and Education
Forest Lake, MN, USA
New Parking Plaza Adds Capacity & Embraces Sustainability at San Diego Airport
San Diego, CA, USA
Integrating Complete and Green Streets for Climate-Resilient Sustainable Streets
San Mateo County, CA, USA

NEXT STORY: In Tornado Alley, Storms Are Even More Dangerous For People With Disabilities

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.