9 out of 10 Transgender Employees Discriminated Against in the Workplace



Transgender Economic Equality on Agenda at 2015 Creating Change: February 4-8 in Denver, Colorado

The U.S. unemployment rate for gender non-conforming individuals is twice the national employment rate and a staggering four times the national rate for transgender people of color.  Nine out of every 10 of those who manage to find jobs also report they have experienced some form of workplace discrimination. 

These findings, drawn from the comprehensive study Injustice at Every Turn*, are sobering indicators that the gender diverse community cannot achieve full social equality until these and other economic injustices are addressed and remedied. [pullquote]Gender Authenticity, a guiding principle for ITEA, is defined as the right of all individuals to express their gender identity and sexual orientation without fear of discrimination, harassment or coercion to conform to gender stereotypes. [/pullquote]

The Institute for Transgender Economic Advancement (ITEA) seeks to raise awareness about creating economic equality for transgender and gender non-conforming people and will take its advocacy to the upcoming 2015 Creating Change Conference. Denise Norris, ITEA Founding Director, remarked, “The Creating Change conference is an ideal platform to communicate our message about Gender Authenticity and Economic Advancement to the thought leaders of the LGBTQI community.” This year’s conference will take place in Denver, Colorado on February 4-8, 2015.

Directors Denise Norris and Vanessa Sheridan will represent ITEA at the conference to create dialogue, share ideas, and strategize about creating economic change for the gender diverse community, an underrepresented group which includes transgender, genderqueer, genderfluid, intersex and gender non-conforming persons and the importance of Gender Authenticity in creating a more just society and workplace in the U.S. 

Gender Authenticity, a guiding principle for ITEA, is defined as the right of all individuals to express their gender identity and sexual orientation without fear of discrimination, harassment or coercion to conform to gender stereotypes. ITEA believes Gender Authenticity is a basic human right that applies to every person, everywhere.

To help support employers in creating gender authentic workplaces that are welcoming to gender diverse employees, ITEA has developed a set of organizational guidelines called the Six Core Competencies. These guidelines are designed to help organizations 1) create Gender Authentic workplaces and 2) avoid potential legal risks and pitfalls.

The Six Core Competencies are:

  • Gender Authenticity and Diversity Best Practices
  • An Effective EEO Policy
  • Managing Workplace Attire
  • Providing Employee Accommodations
  • Supporting The Gender Realignment Process
  • Delivering Transgender-Specific Health Care Benefits

Key Findings in Education

What emerges clearly from the following data is that in education, as in other areas of life, survey participants faced high levels of harassment and violence. For participants in the study, this mistreatment is highly correlated with lower levels of educational attainment, lower income and a variety of other negative outcomes from homelessness to suicide. [pullquote]People of color were especially vulnerable to lower educational attainment and lower income[/pullquote]

• Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (78%), physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%).

• The harassment was so severe that it led nearly one-sixth (15%) to leave school in grades K-12 or in higher education settings.

• Six percent (6%) of respondents were expelled in grades K-12 for their gender identity/expression.

• Teachers and staff members, whose job in part includes ensuring student safety, were too often the perpetrators of harassment and violence in K-12. Thirty-one percent (31%) of the sample reported harassment by teachers or staff, 5% reported physical assault by teachers or staff and 3% reported sexual assault by teachers or staff.

• Negative experiences at school varied by gender and race. Students of color experienced higher rates of harassment and violence across the board. In terms of gender, MTF students reported higher rates of violence, while FTM and gender non-conforming students reported higher rates of harassment and bullying.

• Nineteen percent (19%) of respondents expressing a transgender identity or gender non-conformity in higher education reported being denied access to gender-appropriate housing. Five percent (5%) were denied campus housing altogether. Eleven percent (11%) lost or could not get financial aid or scholarships because of gender identity/expression.

• Despite mistreatment in school, respondents reported considerably higher rates of educational attainment than the general population, with 47% receiving a college or graduate degree, compared with only 27% of the general population. These high levels of achievement appear to be largely due to respondents returning to school later in life.

• Educational attainment did not provide respondents the protection against poverty that is common in the United States. At each level of educational attainment, our respondents had considerably lower incomes than the general population. Our sample was 4-5 times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000/year at each educational category, including college graduates.

• Experiences of mistreatment in school correlated with lower income levels. Those who reported mistreatment in school were 50% less likely to earn $50,000/year than the general population.

• Those respondents who said they were physically assaulted at school due to gender identity/expression were twice as likely to have done sex work and other work in the underground economy and were 50% more likely to be incarcerated.

• For those who had to leave school due to harassment, nearly half (48%) reported having experienced homelessness.

• Those who were mistreated in school had higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse and smoking to cope with the mistreatment. For those who were physically assaulted or had to leave school due to harassment, rates of misuse of alcohol and drugs doubled.

• Respondents who reported having to leave school due to harassment were HIV-positive at a rate of 5.14%, more than eight times the HIV rate of the general population, 0.6%.2

• More than half (51%) of respondents who were harassed, physically or sexually assaulted, or expelled because of their gender identity/expression reported having attempted suicide. Of those who were physically assaulted by teachers/staff or students, 64% reported having attempted suicide. And three-quarters (76%) of those who were assaulted by teachers or staff reported having attempted suicide

About the Institute for Transgender Economic Advancement
ITEA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity dedicated to creating economic advancement and financial equality for transgender and gender non-conforming people. The organization’s mission is to incubate and sponsor programs and services which cumulatively serve to advance the gender diverse community economically. ITEA initiatives include workplace trainings, professional networking, self-employment, career fairs, fiscal sponsorships and other programs, always with a continuing focus on achieving both legal and lived equality for the transgender community.

About ITEA Directors
Denise Norris is the founding director of the Institute for Transgender Economic Advancement. She is also the lead for global transgender workplace inclusion at a global management consulting firm with 300,000 employees worldwide. She serves on the Board of Directors for Marriage Equality USA, a national organization advocating an end of discrimination regarding civil marriage for all people regardless of gender or orientation. Her roots in the gender diverse community extend back more than 20 years to co-founding The Transexual Menace in 1993. In 2012, she received the Stonewall Spirit of Pride Award from the Stonewall National Museum and Archives for her contributions to the Transgender community. Her vision for the future is that we will no longer be separated by letters like L, G, B and T, but will become one community, united in seeking equality for all genders and all orientations. She claims the mountains of the Catskills in New York State as home, and lives with several horses and a couple of dogs.
Vanessa Sheridan is the author of the groundbreaking ABC-CLIO book, “The Complete Guide to Transgender in the Workplace,” and a two-time national Lambda Literary Award finalist. A transgender community advocate since 1991, she is a leading corporate consultant, trainer and speaker who spent much of 2014 providing transgender awareness trainings for the federal EEOC on a nationwide basis. She is a member of the Transgender Advisory Committee for Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and a former Board member of the Stonewall National Museum & Archives. She lives in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area and is a singer/composer/multi- instrumentalist.

About Creating Change
Creating Change is the premier annual organizing and skills-building event for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and their allies. The conference attracts more than 3,500 people from all over the country every year. Presenters and participants come from all walks of life and include members of the business community, elected officials, students, faith leaders and staff and volunteers of non-profit organizations. See www.creatingchange.org.

Source: * Injustice at Every Turn
Grant, Ph.D., Jaime M., Lisa A. Mottet, J.D., and Justin Tanis, D.Min. “Injustice at Every Turn – A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.” The LGBTQI Task Force. Accessed Jan. 16, 2015. www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf.

[From a News Release]

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5 Comments on "9 out of 10 Transgender Employees Discriminated Against in the Workplace"

  1. Something needs to be done at the national level..ASAP to help us get back to work. In 2010, I “lost” a job only days after honestly telling my supervisor about my gender transition. HR was part of the conspiracy…and no LGBT group cared enough to help.

    • I am sorry to hear that. It is unfortunate the way society treats trangendered folks, like they are some sort of leper, afraid they may catch it. Sometimes I feel so sorry for those people, they truly do not understand what life and love really are.

  2. I so far have been lucky in that my workplace only cares about my performance.
    What really needs to happen is to get the idea that transgendered people have some type of mental illness that needs to be fixed to bring us back into acceptable social “norms”. There is nothing wrong with us just because we are different from others who think they represent the “norm” and all should be like them. What a boring world this would be if everyone acted and looked the same.
    Not me, I am comfortable with who I have finally come to be. So many wasted years where I was told that, “It is not proper behavior and quit trying to gain attention.” Such bitterness and depression that for a while I was on suicide watch. Until something inside of me snapped and I dug deep inside myself, found and came to terms with who I am and stopped pretending to be what others wanted me to be (screw them this is my life not theirs). Now not to say this road was easy, there has been many hardships (and I am sure more to come), but I am so much more happier than I can ever remember being and at peace with myself.

  3. I live in a state that supposedly has employment protections for transgender people. I began my transition while in college and lost my job almost immediately after graduation in 2011. The stress from searching in vain for employment for several years has wrecked my health. I may never be able to work again. I have yet to find a single LGBT organization that cares enough to help me.

  4. Dee and Chutney, sorry to hear about your challenges and hardships looking for work. I have been working with San Francisco Trans Employment Program (TEEI) since 2007. We work with trans friendly employers and provide job search support, hiring events, and more.

    Our long distance services are limited due to funding although, we are happy to review resumes and see where we can help. Website should be linked above or you can search Trans Employment Program (TEEI). Good luck!

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