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Analysis Shows Startling Levels of Discrimination Against Black Transgender People

Black transgender and gender nonconforming people face some of the highest levels of discrimination of all transgender people, according to a new analysis released today, Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Black Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

A black-and-white photo of people marching in the street and holding protest signs. The most visible sign says "Black trans lives matter".
Black Trans Lives Matter Photo Credit: Lauren Soleil-Downer

The National LGBTQ Task Force released the report with the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) as a supplement to the groundbreaking national study, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which was published in February 2011 and revealed widespread discrimination experienced by transgender and gender nonconforming people across the board.

Discrimination was pervasive for the entire sample, but anti-transgender bias coupled with structural racism meant that transgender people of color experienced particularly devastating levels of discrimination, with Black respondents often faring worse than all others. Among the key findings of the analysis released today:

  • Black transgender people had an extremely high unemployment rate at 26 percent, two times the rate of the overall transgender sample and four times the rate of the general population.
  • A startling 41 percent of Black respondents said they had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, more than five times the rate of the general U.S. population.
  • Black transgender people lived in extreme poverty, with 34 percent reporting a household income of less than $10,000 annually. This is more than twice the rate for transgender people of all races (15 percent), four times the general Black population rate (9 percent), and eight times the general U.S. population rate (4 percent).
  • Black transgender people were affected by HIV in devastating numbers. More than one-fifth of respondents were living with HIV (20.23 percent), compared to a rate of 2.64 percent for transgender respondents of all races, 2.4 percent for the general Black population, and 0.60 percent of the general U.S. population.
  • Half of Black respondents who attended school expressing a transgender identity or gender nonconformity reported harassment.
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of Black respondents reported having attempted suicide.
  • On a positive note, many Black transgender people who were out to their families reported that their families were as strong as before they came out. Black respondents reported this experience at a higher rate than the overall sample of transgender respondents.

From education to employment and housing discrimination, from police brutality to health care disparities, Black transgender people are suffering at extremely high rates due to bigotry and transphobia. Nearly half of all Black transgender respondents report being harassed at work and at school. Twenty-six percent are unemployed and 34 percent report annual incomes of less than $10,000 per year. These numbers are appalling and these living conditions are unacceptable for any human being — gender conforming or not. NBJC is committed to bringing visibility to the gross inequities faced by our transgender brothers and sisters, and to creating a world where gender nonconforming individuals can work, love and seek medical attention without fear of discrimination, harassment or violence.

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition

This report is a critical call to action for our policymakers to confront these horrifying realities by enacting protections without hesitation. The stark truth is that the multi-layered effects of poverty, race and class discrimination are devastating for Blacks. These findings show just how profoundly harmful it is when discrimination based on gender identity is also in the mix. These data make it clear that racial and economic justice are among the most critical issues facing LGBT people.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

This report confirms what we’ve long known to be true: being transgender and Black in the United States presents unique challenges on the path to full equality. This problem is deeply important to me and to NCTE where every day we hear from transgender people of color who survive in the face of racism and transphobia. This report should be a lesson to all of us that a world with transgender equality is a world with racial equality.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality

Findings from Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Black Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey spotlight the vital need for social justice advocates to address a racial and an LGBTQ+ dimension within their social justice work. The analysis is a resource for those advocating for policy changes at every level of government.

National LGBTQ Task Force 2023 March on Washington

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