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Report: LGBT Women Face Higher Risk of Poverty

PHOTO: A new report finds LGBT women in Ohio and around the country face lower pay, frequent harassment, compromised access to health care, and heightened violence that threatens their economic security. Photo credit: Chris Goldberg/Flickr.
PHOTO: A new report finds LGBT women in Ohio and around the country face lower pay, frequent harassment, compromised access to health care, and heightened violence that threatens their economic security. Photo credit: Chris Goldberg/Flickr.
March 18, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Sixteen percent of Ohioans live in poverty, and a new report finds lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender women are among those most at risk.

The findings were released by a broad coalition of organizations, including the National Women's Law Center. Fatima Goss Graves, the center's vice president for education and employment, said the report highlights how the challenges most women face particularly undermine the economic security of LGBT women.

"Getting adequate wages, having the supports necessary to both work and care for families, having access to health care," she said. "Those are concerns that LGBT women are facing and in some cases facing more acutely."

Goss Graves said those concerns are further magnified for LGBT women of color, immigrant women, women raising children and transgender women. According to the report, almost 30 percent of bisexual women and 23 percent of lesbian women live in poverty, compared with 20 percent of heterosexual women.

More than 5 million women in the United States identify as LGBT, and Goss Graves said discriminatory laws along with inequitable and outdated policies compromise their economic security. She said some LGBT women are unable to access job-protected leave to care for a sick partner, and others struggle to obtain official identity documents that match their lived gender.

"Transgender women in particular have the problem of it being difficult to access appropriate ID," she said, "when ID is so crucial in our society to access jobs, to access things like health care."

Ohio is among three states that do not change gender markers on birth certificates. Goss Graves said policies at the state and federal level should be improved to allow LGBT families the same protections and benefits available to others, such as health insurance, family leave and child-care assistance.

The report, co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project and the Center for American Progress, is online at lgbtmap.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH