Is there a financial penalty for being transgender in America? The extent of the answers have some serious implications, according to a groundbreaking new report.
BY Mitch Kellaway
February 18 2015
While positive trans visiblity is on the upswing, it’s undeniable that real legal and economic disparities face U.S. trans citizens daily, especially those who are multiply marginalized by intersecting identities of race, gender, and class. The ongoing epidemic of fatal violence against trans women of color is one major indicator.
As these deaths go largely overlooked by mainstream media, the the average cisgender (nontrans) American may have difficulty visualizing the concrete harm — both big and small — that antitrans discrimination brings to the trans folks in their communities everyday. In order to help fill that gap with more much-needed information, a new report by the Movement Advancement Project and Center for American Progress, Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being Transgender in America, provides unignorable data that directly links prejudiced attitudes towards trans people with the trans population’s striking economic imbalance.
Providing analysis and clear visuals related to fiscal matters — an issue, MAP and CAP states, which resonates with all Americans — the report rephrases a question common among trans advocates, asking, “Is there a financial penalty for being trans in America?”
The answer is a resounding yes, and the reasons why are as important to understand as they are damning for the policymakers, health care providers, and educators currently upholding a system that renders trans people uniquely vulnerable to financial destitution, and its accompanying further ostracization and criminalization.
In one of its most striking findings, MAP and CAP report that trans people are nearly four times more likely to have a yearly household income below $10,000 (15 percent vs. 4 percent of the nontrans population). The numbers go up if a trans individual is a person of color, with Asian American/Pacific Islander and Latino trans folks nearly six times as likely to be living in poverty as their API or Latino cisgender counterparts.
To illustrate why this injustice exists, Paying an Unfair Price highlights two primary “failures of law” that form the pillars of trans economic disparity: Legal discrimination and absence of legal protection, and hostile educational environments.