The high cost of anti-transgender discrimination

The Williams Institute recently released a study highlighting the high cost that discrimination against transgender New Yorkers has for the state each year. As with a similar study conducted for Massachusetts in 2011, this report highlights the urgent need to pass legislation protecting all New Yorkers from employment and housing discrimination. Currently, only 59% of transgender New Yorkers are protected by local anti-discrimination ordinances.

According to the Williams Institute study, banning discrimination in housing and employment against the remaining 23,800 transgender New Yorkers could reduce the following costs related to discrimination:

  • Employment discrimination costs the State of New York more than $1million annually in Medicaid expenditures.
  • Housing discrimination in the State of New York may cost from $475,000 to $5.9 million annually in federal and state housing program expenditures and other costs related to homelessness.
  • Transgender workers in New York could generate millions more dollars in income tax revenues for the State if employment discrimination was reduced or eliminated.

In other words, employment and housing discrimination against transgender New Yorkers may cost from $1.5 to $7 million in Medicaid and housing program expenditures, not including additional millions in state income tax revenues that could be generated if employment discrimination was reduced.

The study estimates that if transgender residents of New York had incomes similar to the general population, this group of workers could generate over $2.7 million in additional income tax revenue per year.

The Task Force believes that all New Yorkers should have the right to seek and keep employment and housing without being turned away due to bias. Legislation to protect and all residents from discrimination based on gender identity in New York has introduced in the form of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). Last October, Task Force Field Organizer Causten Wollerman testified on the need for the New York Senate to finally pass GENDA.

In addition to passing GENDA, the Williams Institute study highlights the need to pass the federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA). Just as protections against discrimination vary throughout New York, protections against discrimination nationally vary across states and municipalities.

Right now it is legal to fire someone in 29 states because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual; in 34 states, like New York, it is legal to fire someone solely for being transgender. Join the Task Force in urging Congress to pass ENDA, which we expect action on later this summer.