Many Transgender Americans Face Stigma, Financial Hardship, Survey Finds

Transgender and nonbinary Americans experience stark rates of unemployment and harassment, according to the largest survey of their life experiences to date. The data reflects a long-standing pattern of discrimination at a time when states across the country have passed laws restricting their health care, bathroom access and participation in sports.

The findings come from the U.S. Transgender Survey, which many researchers and policymakers have relied on since a version was released in 2011. The National Center for Transgender Equality, an advocacy group, conducted the latest version of the survey in late 2022, drawing responses from more than 92,000 transgender and non-binary Americans, ages 16 and older, from every state in the country.

The group launched a preliminary analysis of responses to the survey’s 600 questions on Wednesday, and the full report is expected later this year.

The survey was not conducted on a random sample of transgender people, so it cannot be interpreted as representative of the transgender population as a whole. It also skewed young, with 43 percent of respondents between 18 and 24 years old.

Still, there were more than three times as many respondents as in 2015, the last time the survey was conducted. carried outwhen 28,000 people participated.

“You don’t see data sets like this,” Sandy James, attorney and the main researcher of the new survey, in a press conference. “Tens of thousands of trans people knew it was imperative to make their voices heard.”

Many respondents reported financial problems. Eighteen percent of respondents said they were unemployed, a rate much higher than the national rate, and a third said they had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. More than a quarter reported not visiting a doctor when needed in the past year due to high costs.

Nearly a third of respondents said they had been verbally harassed in the past year, and three percent of respondents said they had been physically attacked in the past year because of their gender identity.

But they also reported positive experiences. An overwhelming majority of respondents (nearly 94 percent) said they were more satisfied with their lives since transitioning. Among those who received hormones, 98 percent said the treatments had made them more satisfied with life.

Since the 2015 survey, state legislatures have become considerably more hostile toward LGBTQ people, with restrictions on minor and adult health care, library books, bathroom access, school sports participation, and gender identification in legal documents. State legislatures are currently considering nearly 400 such bills, according the American Civil Liberties Union.

Nearly half of 2022 respondents said they had considered moving in the previous year due to restrictive bills passed or introduced in their state, and 5 percent said they had moved. Forty-four percent reported serious psychological problems in the previous 30 days.

The results appear to largely match the 2015 findings, although the group has not yet compared the data in detail, Dr. James said.

“A stable condition has been created, an environment in which people cannot thrive,” Dr. James said. “And trans people are trying to move forward in their lives, like anyone else in America wants to do.”

The 2022 survey was the first to include respondents aged 16 and 17, and they accounted for more than 8,000 of the total respondents. The teens were excluded from some of the other analyzes in the draft report, such as those related to their experiences with medical treatments, but will be included in the report released later this year.

Sixty percent of teens reported mistreatment at school, including verbal harassment, physical violence, and online bullying, as well as being prohibited from using chosen names, pronouns, or bathroom names that matched their gender identity. Minors were also more likely than adults to report having family members who were not supportive of their gender identity, and 5 percent said family members had been violent toward them because they were transgender.