Black Transgenders: Still Marginalized
The declaration that the Defense of Marriage of Act is unconstitutional and the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” are the things that gay ought to be jubilant about. However, there is a smaller group of individuals within this small group that still has to fight for their rights. These are the colored transgender individuals.
In employment and housing, they are put at a disadvantage by people and institutions that abuse them for having no legal protections. Statistics shows that one in five transgender Americans has been homeless frequently in their life because of discrimination and rejection by family. And to rub salt on wound, institutions that were established to help shelter homeless people have the guts to turn them down because of their gender status.
A study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reveals that 78 percent transgender Americans have been discriminated from work. Next, lawmakers who are supposed to serve any group without prejudice are reluctant to pass a comprehensive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Such apathy from the government allows discrimination in the local, state and federal to cripple transgenders from getting equal access to the American dream.
Even in getting the simplest things like renewing driver’s license, applying for a passport, credit approval and participating in elections are troublesome for transgenders simply because of their name and gender changes. This mainly happens in states that empower bureaucrats to impose personal biases and prejudices.
In a recent research report by the National Black Justice Coalition, it concluded that racial discrimination worsens the already bleak conditions for transgender people that prove that the gay community is a mirror of how detrimental societal ills are for this minority group.
26 percent of black transgenders are unemployed which is double the national average. 34 percent of them are living below the poverty line earning as little as 10,000 a year. Their poverty figure is more than twice the national average for all transgender people which is at 15 percent and quadruples that of the American population that is at 9 percent.
The group also needs better health care as more than 20 percent of black transgenders are HIV-positive, which is too high in comparison to the national average for all transgenders at 2.64 percent. With the above-mentioned conditions, it wouldn’t be a surprise why 49 percent of them commit suicide.
Janet Mock, writer and former editor of People magazine and a well-known advocate for transgender equality, describes how tough conditions are for transgender people compared to gay and lesbians. She said in her interview with The Root, “As long as marriage and families are based upon the lines of gender and sex, it will affect trans people and their families. Legal recognitions of all families, regardless of gender and sex, is also heightened by [the] patchwork of laws from state to state, which prohibit or allow trans people to change their relationships, marriages and access to benefits. Marriage equality has been largely about giving couples legal protections, so we must also extend those same legal protections to all LGBT individuals, specifically trans, low-income and people-of-color communities, regardless of marital status.”