Transgender Women Face Widespread Employment Discrimination and Healthcare Barriers

ATLANTA, Georgia – A recent study has found that seven in 10 transgender women in the United States have experienced discrimination because of their gender identity, with one in three reporting employment discrimination in the past year. This discrimination has led to significant challenges in accessing healthcare and undergoing gender-affirming procedures, ultimately impacting the overall health and well-being of transgender women.

The study, known as NHBS-Trans, revealed that the prevalence of discrimination among transgender women shares similarities with previous studies, such as the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. However, NHBS-Trans participants reported higher rates of bathroom discrimination, poorer treatment in businesses, and higher rates of verbal and physical abuse. These experiences are compounded by the fact that many transgender women also face economic hardships, homelessness, and increased likelihood of engaging in survival sex work as a result of employment discrimination.

Furthermore, the study highlighted the intersections between employment discrimination and health care access. Transgender women who faced discrimination in the workplace were more likely to be uninsured, experience unmet medical needs due to cost, and have never received transgender-specific health care. This lack of access to quality health care can have serious implications for the overall well-being of transgender individuals, especially those living with disabilities or HIV.

The findings also shed light on the role of Medicaid as the primary source of insurance coverage for transgender women, particularly those with an HIV-positive diagnosis or a disability. However, the availability of Medicaid and its coverage of gender-affirming care varies by state, posing additional barriers to accessing necessary health care services for transgender individuals.

Additionally, the study revealed the challenges faced by transgender women in seeking gender-affirming procedures. Many are highly motivated to pursue hormone therapy and other procedures, willing to sacrifice other basic needs in order to achieve their transition goals. However, the lack of adequate health insurance coverage and employment discrimination create structural barriers that hinder their access to gender-affirming care.

Overall, the study highlights the urgent need to address discrimination against transgender individuals in the workplace and improve their access to quality, gender-affirming health care services. It also underscores the importance of expanding Medicaid and ensuring comprehensive coverage of gender-affirming care across all states to support the health and well-being of transgender women.