The challenges just go on and on for our country’s transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) community, and the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) just released a report with some disturbing findings. People who struggle to live a life that’s true to their sense of “self” are being challenged at every turn.
The NYC AVP’s report indicates widespread systemic discrimination against the TGNC population, and says that “TGNC individuals are five times more likely to be unemployed, and among those with college degrees, more than four times more likely to be making less than $30,000 a year.”
The report included some specific issues this population faces that cisgender people do not.
“Cisgender” denotes a person whose gender identity matches that of the sex assigned to them at birth. If you identify as a man and were assigned the sex of “male” at birth, then you are cisgender. If you identify as a woman but your birth certificate indicates you’re a male, then you would not be cisgender but rather transgender or non-conforming gender.
“Transgender” is defined as an “encompassing term of many gender identities of those who do not identify or exclusively identify with their sex assigned at birth.” “Gender non-conforming” is a term that some people use to describe themselves when they do not dress, behave, or “fit in” with gender expectations of society.
AVP Report Findings
The report included some interesting information about what TGNC people face while job hunting. Approximately 31% of this population reported experiencing discrimination before they even finished applying for jobs because they were asked what gender they were assigned at birth, a question employers are not legally allowed to ask.
While it may seem such a simple question to most of us and one we answer on forms all of the time, certain employment discrimination laws prohibit employers from asking that question. Some TGNC job applicants said they were asked for references from past employers who only knew them by their “dead name,” which is the term for the name they used before they transitioned.
About 50% of the study’s respondents said they had to educate their coworkers about their identities, and one-third reported being isolated by coworkers and being the target of unwanted sexual comments. Many of the TGNC study respondents were well overqualified for their jobs, and some reported their non-TGNC peers received higher salaries for the same work. One third of all respondents said they weren’t able to use the health insurance from their employer to receive the gender-affirming care they needed.
The report also included findings that instances of discrimination were compounded by race. If a job applicant happened to be Black and transgender then the disparity of pay was even worse. According to the report, “People of color with bachelor’s degrees were nearly four times more likely than to their white counterparts to make less than $10,000 a year.”
Employers Need Education
New York City protects against employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression and has even issued guidance specifying correct names and pronouns must be used in the workplace. The AVP report wants the city to create educational opportunities and employment programs to help TGNC individuals overcome inequities and injustices they often face when job searching.
If there’s a lack of understanding amongst NYC employers regarding workplace discrimination against the TGNC population, then you can probably assume that less progressive, smaller cities are in need of education regarding workplace discrimination and how even seemingly benign questions or comments may violate someone’s basic human rights (and break the law).