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Study: Poverty, Violence More Likely for LGBT Women

PHOTO: According to a new report released by a broad coalition of organizations, LGBT women in North Dakota and around the country face lower pay, frequent harassment, compromised access to health care and heightened violence that threatens their economic security. Photo credit: Ashley Campbell/Flickr.
PHOTO: According to a new report released by a broad coalition of organizations, LGBT women in North Dakota and around the country face lower pay, frequent harassment, compromised access to health care and heightened violence that threatens their economic security. Photo credit: Ashley Campbell/Flickr.
March 20, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. - Nearly 12 percent of North Dakotans live in poverty, and a new report finds that 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, that group'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women across the United States identify as LGBT, and Goss Graves said discriminatory laws, along with inequitable and outdated policies, compromise their economic security. She added that 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 the gender they live.

"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."

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. North Dakota poverty data is at quickfacts.census.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND