Editor's Note: Guest blogger Barbra Siperstein was the first transgender member appointed and confirmed to the Democratic National Committee, and is currently a member of the DNC Executive Committee and the deputy vice chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. In addition to being the president of the New Jersey Stonewall Democrats, she's a published author, small business owner, veteran, and a grandparent.
In my prior columns I've talked about what I have done for transgender equality and about stepping up to create opportunities. One such opportunity -- a chance to create a dialogue with, educate, and perhaps even create change in our federal representatives -- is coming up next month. Woody Allen once said that "Eighty percent of success in life is just showing up," and on June 17, 2013 in Washington, DC we now have a chance to show up en masse, armed with an education and the ability to advocate for ourselves!
That day, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is teaming up with the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) to pressure the U.S. Senate to move forward with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and inform lawmakers about the stake transgender people have in the fight for immigration reform.
ENDA is about jobs. It's about enabling trans people to earn a living and strive for the American dream.
Is employment discrimination a problem for trans people? Is harassment on the job a problem for trans people? Is there a reason why the overwhelming majority of trans want to be stealth if they are able?
NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force launched a six-month data collection process in the first comprehensive national effort to answer these questions, document transgender discrimination in America, and chronicle the effects of societal stigma. They interviewed 6,450 transgender people through an extensive questionnaire covering critical topics like employment, education, health care, housing, public accommodation, criminal justice, family life and access to government documents. Respondents came from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the data generated by their answers was compared to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Labor.
The executive summary of the final report can be found here.
The survey found that transgender people are unemployed at alarming rates, nearly double the national average. The disparity is even more acute for respondents who are black (26%), Latino (18%), and multiracial (17%).
Forty-seven percent of survey respondents experienced an adverse job action because they are transgender -- they did not get a job, were denied a promotion or were fired -- that directly impacted their employment status. A staggering number of the people surveyed (26%) lost their jobs due to their gender identity/expression. Black and multiracial respondents were particularly hard hit, at 32% and 37% respectively.
The survey highlighted a universal experience of mistreatment and harassment at work: ninety-seven percent of trans people have experienced mistreatment, harassment, or discrimination on the job, including invasion of privacy, verbal abuse, and physical or sexual assault.
Incredible? You'd better believe it!