Reports spotlight pervasiveness of racism

By Jack Harrison, Task Force Policy Analyst

Today the Task Force Policy Institute released its latest publication, Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander Respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which is the third in a four-part transgender racial justice series we’ve developed alongside the National Center for Transgender Equality and people of color-led racial justice organizations.

Our first was released last summer with the National Black Justice Coalition about black transgender and gender non-conforming Americans. The second concerned Latinos and Latinas with the League of United Latin American Citizens. And this latest piece has been in collaboration with the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA).

The report contains sections on discrimination in education, employment, housing, family acceptance and health care.  The key findings include:

  • API transgender and gender non-conforming people often live in extreme poverty with 18% reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year. This is higher than the rate for transgender and gender non-conforming people of all races (15%). It is six times the general API population rate (3 percent), and over four times the general U.S. population rate (4%).
  • API transgender and gender non-conforming people are affected by HIV in devastating numbers. Nearly 5 percent report being HIV positive. This compares to rates of 2.64 percent for transgender and gender non-conforming people of all races, .01 percent for the general API population, and .60 percent for the general US population. An additional 10.48 percent of API transgender and gender non-conforming people do not know their HIV status.
  • Forty-four percent (44%) of API transgender and gender non-conforming people have experienced significant family acceptance. Those respondents who were accepted by their families were much less likely to face discrimination.

For me, the most important thing about these findings is how they highlight the way that racism is active in many communities. As a biracial person I’ve often been told that I don’t count as a person of color for one reason or another, which is one of my personal points of entry when I hear people say that others “don’t count,” particularly Asian Americans. It’s why I like the term, “people of color,” because it’s so fortified with solidarity around our shared experience of racism and white supremacy even as that experience plays out in wildly different ways.

But for anyone who thinks that racism doesn’t play out in the lives of Asian Americans, and particularly, LGBT Asian Americans, here’s one study that unquestionably refutes that.

Read more on the release of today’s report.