Transgender people in the US face enormous challenges and inequalities not experienced by other people, including a shockingly high attempted suicide rate.
On Thursday, the largest survey of transgender people ever conducted was released by America’s National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
More than 27,000 individuals took part in the poll, which revealed significant disparities between transgender people and the rest of the US population across a range of categories.
The findings expose disturbing patterns of mistreatment and discrimination regarding the most basic elements of life such as finding a job, having a place to live, accessing appropriate medical care, and enjoying the support of family and community.
“Despite achieving some significant policy advances and increased visibility over the past few years, transgender people continue to face enormous obstacles in almost every area of their lives,” commented NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling.
“Discrimination and violence threaten transgender people’s ability to have even the basics: food, a place to sleep, or a job. This survey demonstrates that there is a lot of work ahead to achieve simple parity and full equality for transgender people.”
According to the report, nearly half (47%) of respondents have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. A staggering 39% of respondents were currently experiencing serious psychological distress, compared with only 5% of the US population.
Among the starkest findings is that 40% of respondents have attempted suicide in their lifetime—nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the US population (4.6%).
The survey also reveals large economic disparities. Nearly one-third (29%) of transgender respondents were living in poverty, compared to 14% in the US population. A major contributor to the high rate of poverty is respondents’ 15% unemployment rate—three times higher that of the US population at the time of the survey (5%).
Respondents were also far less likely to own a home, with only 16% of respondents reporting home ownership, compared to 63% of the US population. Nearly one-third (30%) of respondents have been homeless at some point in their lifetime, and 12% were homeless in the year prior to completing the survey.
These inequalities were most pronounced for transgender people of colour, who were up to three times as likely as the US population to be living in poverty. The unemployment rate among transgender people of colour was generally four times higher than the US unemployment rate.
“We hope that the survey’s breadth and in-depth examination of transgender life in the United States will serve as an important resource that prompts dialogue and leads to a greater understanding and acceptance of transgender people,” said Sandy James, the survey’s lead author.