Transgender survey released

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling

The National Center for Transgender Equality recently released the largest study of the transgender community ever done.

Mara Kiesling, executive director of the NCTE, said she hoped for 10,000 people to respond. But they received almost 28,000 survey responses.

“That tells you something about the size of the community,” she said.

About 30 percent of the respondents identified as agender or gender fluid. “In general,” Kiesling said, “non-binary people experience the same violence and disrespect as transgender people.”

In Texas

The survey’s statistics show that 34 percent of trans people in Texas are living in poverty, higher than elsewhere in the country. Unemployment among the Texas trans community is four times the national average.

Some of the information from the survey just confirmed what she already knew, Kiesling said, calling Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick a bully who is putting children in the category of predators.

“If a child can’t use a bathroom at school, they can’t go to school,” she said. “And if you can’t use a bathroom at work, you can’t have a job.”

She said that should be used to shame Patrick into dropping his obsession with attacking the trans community. But, she acknowledged, “shame has never been a big part of his career.”

Kiesling said she hopes people in Texas will point out that former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a diehard supporter of that state’s infamous “bathroom bill,” was the only governor to lose a re-election last year and it was this same issue that lead to his defeat.

“You can’t use children this way,” she said.

The survey revealed other information about Texas that wasn’t good, either.

In Texas, 22 percent of respondents didn’t see a doctor when they needed to see one. Of those, 38 percent couldn’t afford to go to the doctor.

The survey looked into differences by state, but within the Texas stats, responses weren’t divided by city, and didn’t compare trans people living in cities with those in suburbs and rural areas. Kiesling said from anecdotal evidence, violence against trans people has been reported both in cities and rural areas and in some small towns, trans people do quite well. So she couldn’t generalize.

National statistics

Looking at the national statistics, violence and disrespect was reported in every aspect of trans people’s lives.

One in 10 who were out to their immediate families reported a family member was violent toward them because of their gender identity and 8 percent were kicked out of the house.

In school, those who were out or perceived as transgender were mistreated: 54 percent were verbally harassed, 24 percent were physically attacked and 13 percent were sexually assaulted. The abuse was so severe that 17 percent dropped out of school

At work, 30 percent of those with a job had been fired, denied a promotion or harassed during the previous year. Of those who were spiritual or religious, 19 percent were rejected by their religious community and left or were forced to leave.

One third of respondents have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives and 12 percent had been homeless during the last year. While 63 percent of Americans own their own homes, only 16 percent of the transgender population owns their own homes.

Trans people of color

Other forms of discrimination increase the impact on transgender people.

“If you’re facing transphobia and facing racism, have a disability or are worried about immigration status, the effects compound,” Kiesling said.

While overall results showed trans people twice as likely to live in poverty than the general American population, people of color were three times as likely to live in poverty. The unemployment rate among people of color was four times higher than the U.S. unemployment rate and the HIV rate was five times the U.S. rate.

Although insurance companies may no longer treat transgender as a pre-existing condition to deny coverage, as many as 25 percent of transgender people had trouble with their insurance over the past year because they were transgender.

Also distressing is that 40 percent of those surveyed said they had attempted suicide at some time during their lives, a rate nine times the population in general.

Yet, despite voter identification laws that make it harder for transgender people to vote, 76 percent reported they were registered compared to only 65 percent of the U.S. population in 2014. More than 54 percent reported voting in that election, compare to only 42 percent of the population that actually voted that year.

—  David Taffet

Time is running out to participate in U.S. Trans Survey

Keisling Mara

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling

If you haven’t already participated in the U.S. Trans Survey — billed as the largest survey ever undertaken on trans lives in America — you’d better get with it. There are only six days left.

The survey closes to participants at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21.

This survey is a follow up to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted in 2011, and is intended to create a more comprehensive picture of the lives and experiences of transgender Americans.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said that trans people in this country area at a “critical moment,” and yet they face that moment lacking a “basic, fundamental knowledge” about transgender lives.

“While we’re aware that trans people face extraordinary challenges, we cannot discern how frequent or widespread they are without up-to-date data,” Keisling said. “The survey will provide us with robust, fresh data, which will translate into significant knowledge about the trans community.

“This is,” she added, “a survey for all trans, genderqueer and non-binary people. It is for us, about us, and by us.”

Keisling said the 2015 survey will “inform life-saving laws and policies that meet the needs of our community,” and that will “develop the information we need to understand the realities of our lives.”

Results, she said, will be available to community members, organizations and researchers “for years to come.”

The survey is designed to assess transgender people’s experiences in employment, housing, healthcare, HIV/AIDS, disabilities, immigration, sex work and police interactions. Results are projected to be released next spring.

Take the survey here.

—  Tammye Nash

NCTE launches survey of trans Americans

Keisling Mara

Mara Keisling

The National Center for Transgender Equality today (Wednesday, Aug. 19) opened the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey in an effort to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the lives of trans men and women in the U.S., NCTE officials said.

The new survey is a follow-up to NCTE’s National Transgender Discrimination Survey, and is, officials said, the largest, most extensive survey  of transgender Americans ever undertaken. It will cover a wide range of topics to assess transgender people’s experiences in employment, housing, healthcare, HIV/AIDS, disabilities, immigration, sex work and police interactions.

Participants will have at least one month to complete the survey, and results are expected to be released in the spring of 2016.

NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said that the trans community in the U.S. is a “a critical moment,” but that “there is basic fundamental knowledge that we do not have. While we’re aware that trans people face extraordinary challenges, we cannot discern how frequent or widespread they are without up-to-date data. The survey will provide us with robust, fresh data, which will translate into significant knowledge about the trans community.”

Keisling continued, “This is a survey for all trans, genderqueer and non-binary people. It is for us, about us and by us. Just like the the first survey, the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey will help expand our understanding … and inform life-saving laws and policies that meet the needs of our communities. It will help us develop the information we need to understand the realities of our lives.

“Because this is the community’s study, the results will be available to community members, organizations and researchers for years to come,” she concluded.

Click here to participate in the survey.

—  Tammye Nash

NCTE honoring Phyllis Randolph Frye

Frye, Phyllis R.4

Judge Phyllis Frye

Pioneering Texas trans rights activist Judge Phyllis Randolph Frye of Houston is one of three people being honored at the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 12th anniversary celebration, “The Tipping Point: An Evening to Celebrate and Inspire,” next month. Other honorees are Gabriel Foster and Kellan Baker.

Through her Houston-based law firm, Frye’s has for years fought in the courts and in the streets for the rights of trans people and the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, too. In 2010, Frye became Texas’ first out transgender judge, and now, as senior partner with Frye, Oaks and Benavidez, PLLC, Frye devotes her practice exclusively to transgender clients. In 2010, Houston Mayor Annise Parker appointed Frye as an associate municipal judge.

Frye will receive NCTE’s Julie Johnson Founder’s Award.

Foster will receive the Community Builder Award in recognition of his  work with the American Friends Service Committee. SPARK, Reproductive Justice Now, the Leeway Foundation and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Baker will receive the Andrew Cray Trans Health Advocacy Award for his work as a senior fellow with the LGBT Research and Communications Project at American Progress, where he strives to improve data collection regarding LGBT populations.

Amazon’s Golden Globe-winning TV show Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor,will be honored with The Culture Change Award.

The 12th anniversary event takes place from 6-9 p.m. May 11, at The Hamilton Live in Washington, D.C. For more information on attending or becoming a sponsor of the event, go here.

—  Tammye Nash

‘A landmark moment’ for trans Americans, but there’s so far left to go

Screen shot 2015-01-21 at 1.00.32 PM

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama made history Tuesday night (Jan. 20), when he actually said the words “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “transgender” during the his State of the Union speech. It was the first time those words had ever been uttered in a SOTU address.

President Obama said: “As Americans, we respect human dignity. … That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We do these things not only because they are the right thing to do, but because ultimately they will make us safer.”

It was, I think, an especially sweet moment for the thousands and thousands of transgender Americans. We are making progress toward full equality every day, but still, our trans brothers and sisters are the ones still being left behind. So hearing the president of the United States truly acknowledge them had to be a great moment.

The press releases and written statements I found flooding my email inbox this morning reinforced what I already believed:

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said: “What President Obama said about trans people last night … he actually said it. …. His mention of us [last night] let’s us know that whenever he’s spoken of children, he has meant transgender children too. Or when he’s spoken out about immigrants, he’s meant transgender immigrants too. And when he’s talked about service members and veterans, he meant transgender service members too.”

A statement from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund called the mention “a landmark moment,” adding: “This is a moment of promise for transgender people, who before now, had never been mentioned in a State of the Union address. We are grateful to President Obama for including our entire community in his speech, and for highlighting and condemning the persecution of LGBT people. Through his stirring and heartfelt words, the president has again demonstrated his commitment to creating a world where people are treated equally regardless of who we are or who we love.”

As uplifting and empowering as that moment was, though, my email inbox also provided ample proof that we still have a very long way to go, especially in protecting transgender Americans — their rights, their freedoms and their very lives.

A press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights notes that NCLR and the Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday filed a joint friend of the court brief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, supporting a former Saks Fifth Avenue employee, Leyth Jamal, who says the company discriminated against her because she is trans.

Saks attorneys have asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit because Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect transgender workers.

I also had an email from a group called Care2, “a community of 27 million standing together for good,” taking to task InTouch Weekly for its horrendous cover story speculating on the gender identity of Olympic champion Bruce Jenner.

I saw that cover while standing in the check-out line at the grocery store; it made me sick, and it made me angry. It depicts a heavily altered photo of Jenner to show what he would look like as a woman. I didn’t read the article — although Care2’s statement says it was full of speculation and nothing else. Us Magazine reports Jenner himself is “upset” with the cover and story.

According to the press release, there is a new Care2 petition by Julie Mastrine demanding that “David Perel, editorial director of InTouch Weekly, be more sensitive to the struggles that actual transgender people face and refrain from gossipy speculation about someone’s gender identity.”

Mastrine said: “Publicly speculating as to whether or not someone will be coming out as transgender illustrates a flippant lack of empathy toward people who actually struggle with making a gender transition. It robs Jenner of his right to identify as he wishes.”

BuzzFeed says the magazine likely imposed Jenner’s face over British actress Stephanie Beacham’s body, and even comedian/actor Russell Brand condemned InTouch, calling it “bullying.”


—  Tammye Nash

Why raising the minimum wage is an LGBT issue

rustinHTThe U.S. Senate votes Wednesday on raising the minimum wage to $10.10, which may help lift a disproportionately high number of LGBT households out of poverty.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent some statistics compiled by their LGBT partners, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

According to studies, a $10.10 minimum wage would mean higher earnings for 17 million workers with little to no effect on the employment rate, and could lift nearly five million Americans out of poverty.

While the perception is that the gay community is wealthy, raising the minimum wage will disproportionately help the LGBT households.

•  Household income among trans people is four times as likely to be below $10,000 per year.

•  While 5.7 percent of opposite-sex married couples live in poverty, 7.6 percent of lesbian couples live in poverty.

•  Same-sex African-American couples have twice the poverty rate of opposite-sex African-American couples.

Over the past decade, studies have compared wages earned by gay and bisexual men compared to straight men. Taking into consideration education, occupation and region of the country, gay and bi men earn 10 to 32 percent less.

The Minimum Wage Fairness Act would:

•  raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016, in three increments of 95 cents each

•  adjust the minimum wage each following year to keep pace with the rising cost of living

•  raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at a $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years

—  David Taffet

Transgender? Transsexual? The power of words in self-determination

Nikki Araguz

Early this week, we had a What’s Brewing post here on Instant Tea that included information about what was at the time a pending ruling from state District Judge Randy Clapp in Wharton on a lawsuit challenging Nikki Araguz’s right to the pension of her husband, a Wharton firefighter who had been killed in the line of duty.

In that first post, we used the term “transgender” to refer to Araguz, which is the general umbrella term that we use here at the Voice. We based that on conversations with advocates in the trans community who told us that “transgender” is an umbrella term that includes all those who are gender variant, while “transsexual” specifically refers to those who have fully transitioned or are in the process of transitioning.

So I was surprised to see comments to that first blog about Nikki Araguz taking us to task for describing her as “transgender” instead of using the term “transsexual,” and pointing out that Araguz had, in her personal blog, asked that the media refer to her as transsexual instead of transgender.

—  admin

NCTE offers tips for transgender travelers on dealing with new TSA procedures

With the holiday travel season upon us, the National Center for Transgender Equailty issued guidance today on how transgender people should deal with new equipment and procedures being used by the Transportation Security Administration.

NCTE says it opposes the new procedures but has been working with TSA to ensure that transgender travelers are treated respectfully.

“The new policy presents transgender travelers with a difficult choice between invasive touching and a scan that reveals the intimate contours of the body,” NCTE says. “Unless and until NCTE and our allies can get these unreasonable policies fixed, NCTE encourages transgender travelers to think through the available options and make their own decisions about which procedure feels least uncomfortable and less unsafe.”

Read the full report from NCTE by going here.

—  John Wright