These Obstacles Are Still Faced By Trans People

The LGBTQ community has made huge strides in recent years when it comes to legal protections and societal acceptance. Sadly, however, the transgender community continues to face disproportionate levels of discrimination and violence, according to a new survey. This survey is important not just because of the results, but because of its depth: Known as the U.S. Trans Survey, it's a follow-up study to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) from 2011. In current survey, more than 27,000 transgender people participated — four times the original amount of participants in the NTDS report.

Much has changed for the LGBTQIA+ community since 2011, and although the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling remains one of the most positive examples, many of those changes have been negative. Consider the "bathroom bill" in North Carolina. Consider the fact that many transgender people were not able to vote in the 2016 presidential election because of voter ID laws. Even within the queer community, transphobia is still an issue in many circles. While progress is continually moving forward, the trans community continues to face enormous obstacles for even the most basic of rights.

It's worth noting, too, that intersectionality is important here: For trans people of color, there are additional barriers and obstacles. For trans people who are sex workers, there may be additional complexities. Being trans and homeless is a different set of circumstances than being trans and having safe housing. While none of these considerations are about "who has it worse?", these ideas are important to keep in mind when we consider complex and diverse populations. Different identities experience different challenges, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

There is a lot of important data to dig through with this report, but here are some of the key components. For a society that considers itself to be advanced, it's astonishing that these issues remain; what's more, in our current climate, we're likely to come up against many more challenges in the upcoming years. But hopefully, underlining the fact that these issues still exist will help ultimately alleviate them.

We've already gotten to work. So let's keep at it.

Employment Discrimination


Transgender people are three times more likely to be unemployed, according to the U.S. Trans Survey. They're also twice as likely to be living in poverty, compared to the general population. For trans people who have jobs, 77 percent reported feeling pressured to hide their identity or delaying their transition while at work. 16 percent of respondents reportedly have lost their jobs because of their gender identity or gender expression.

Housing Protections


In comparison with the general population, transgender people are four times less likely to own a home. 30 percent of trans people have experienced homelessness in their lives. For trans people who stay in shelters, 70 percent report being harassed or abused because of their gender identity.

Sexual Violence


A staggering 68 percent of undocumented trans people report experiencing intimate partner violence, according to this report. Nearly half of all trans people report having been sexually assaulted in their lives. For those who have done sex work, the number goes up to 72 percent, and for those who have been homeless, the number goes to 62 percent. For trans people with disabilities, 61 percent report experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime.

Police Interactions

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According to the U.S. Trans Survey data, 55 percent of trans people believe they experienced some form of mistreatment from the police. More than half of trans people reported feeling unsafe asking for police attention or help even when necessary. Nearly a quarter of respondents believe that they were arrested solely because of their gender identity.

Family Acceptance


But here's a bright spot: According to the U.S. Trans Survey, trans people who have the support and acceptance of their families are not only less likely to experience severe stress in their lives, but are less likely to be homeless. They're also less likely to attempt suicide. Nor is this the only study to have resulted in these findings; a study published earlier this year found that transgender children experience no worse rates of depression or anxiety than cisgender children — if they have the support of their families.

This is the goal. It's what we should be aiming for: To support and accept all genders and identities.

Read the full U.S. Trans Survey here.