20 Feb '16
An estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender. Many face pervasive harassment, discrimination, violence, and abuse in every aspect of their lives, including at work, in housing, education, healthcare, and personal relationships. Consider the discrimination suffered by transgender individuals at work. According to a comprehensive 2011 report titled “Injustice At Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey“:
- 90% of transgender individuals surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it.
- 47% said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming.
- Over one-quarter (26%) reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming and 50% were harassed.
- Large majorities attempted to avoid discrimination by hiding their gender or gender transition (71%) or delaying their gender transition (57%).
- Overall, 16% said they had been compelled to work in the underground economy for income (such as doing sex work or selling drugs).
- Respondents who had lost a job due to bias also experienced ruinous consequences such as four times the rate of homelessness, 70% more current drinking or misuse of drugs to cope with mistreatment, 85% more incarceration, more than double the rate working in the underground economy, and more than double the HIV infection rate, compared to those who did not lose a job due to bias.
- A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide compared to 1.6% of the general population, with rates rising for those who lost a job due to bias (55%), were harassed/bullied in school (51%), had low household income, or were the victim of physical assault (61%) or sexual assault (64%).
California has protected transgender employees from workplace and housing discrimination since before 2003. It has done so through the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on certain protected categories. However, many Californians remain unaware that transgender employees are protected from workplace discrimination. To help educate workers and employers, the California Legislature made these protections explicit in 2003 and 2011. And, this week, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing issued guidance . . .
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