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Report: Transgender Michiganders Face Widespread Discrimination

Poverty and bias are widespread in the transgender community, according to new data. (TransAmerica/Wikimedia Commons)
Poverty and bias are widespread in the transgender community, according to new data. (TransAmerica/Wikimedia Commons)
May 25, 2017

LANSING, Mich. -- Poverty, discrimination, unemployment and psychological stress - those are just some of the hallmarks of the transgender experience in Michigan, according to a study out this week - the largest study of its kind.

The National Center for Transgender Equality surveyed nearly 28,000 transgender people nationwide in the summer of 2015, including nearly 900 in Michigan. Nathan Triplett, director of pubic policy and political action at Equality Michigan, said while many Michiganders want to believe discrimination doesn't happen in this day and age, the data prove otherwise.

"Almost 20 percent of trans-identified respondents reported having lost a job because of their gender identity,” Triplett said. "I think that's astounding and certainly illustrates the need for legislative action."

The report also found that nearly a third of transgender people in Michigan are living in poverty - more than double the national rate. While dozens of Michigan cities have enacted their own policies, the state has yet to amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The study also revealed high levels of stress for transgender youth, with 55 percent of trans-identified kids reporting having experienced verbal harassment at school, 20 percent reporting physical assault, and many having experienced sexual assault. Triplett said regardless of what happens at the federal level, individual districts can take steps to protect their students.

"These are not new policies,” Triplett said. "Across the country, they have been successfully implemented in districts large and small, urban and rural; and I think that it's time that we see those adopted in Michigan, to see that these trans students have an equal educational opportunity to which they are entitled."

Most federal and state surveys don't include questions about gender orientation or sexual identity, that is why advocates say the survey is important. It provides the first framework that quantifies the issues facing the transgender community in a meaningful way.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI