he transgender population is an integral part of the LGBT community. From the beginning, they have played an outsized role in our fight for equality, and were key participants in Stonewall, the 1969 Greenwich Village rebellion that ushered in the modern LGBT movement.

According to the Williams Institute, the transgender community is 0.3 percent of the population, or 700,000 Americans. There are currently seventeen states and the District of Columbia that prohibit job discrimination based on gender identity. A ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is also worth noting. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT organization:

In April 2012 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a landmark ruling in Macy v. Holder. In that case a transgender woman disclosed that she was in the process of transitioning from male to female, and as a result was denied employment at a federal agency. The EEOC held that discrimination based on a person’s gender non-conformity, transgender status, or plan to transition constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This ruling built on a string of cases throughout the country in which courts held that discrimination against transgender employees constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII.

Macy established the EEOC’s official position on discrimination against transgender individuals under Title VII and is binding on federal agencies. However, Macy is not directly binding on courts ruling on discrimination in the private sector.

Unfortunately, discrimination and violence against transgender people is still commonplace.

  • 41 percent of 6,450 transgender and gender-nonconforming adults recently surveyed jointly by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force (NGLTF) said they had attempted suicide.
  • In the NCTE and NGLTF joint survey of 6,450 transgender and gender nonconforming adults, nine out of 10 said they were harassed while on the job because of gender identity. And nearly half—47 percent—said they’d been fired, not hired, or refused a promotion because of gender identity.
  • A 2011 survey by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 80 percent of transgender students (K–12) felt unsafe because they were transgender, and 45 percent of gay males and 35 percent of lesbians said they were harassed based on gender expression.
  • Adults who fully transition have double the rate of unemployment and poverty of the general population, with one fifth having been homeless.
If you are interested in learning more about gender identity issues, we suggest you begin by reading a seminal article in Newsweek magazine by E.J. Graff, who writes:

All we know is that the “right” mix of gender can’t be violated without serious psychic damage. Gender identity (your internal sense of whether you’re a girl or a boy) and gender expression (how you walk, move, and talk) emerge and are relatively fixed by age 5, researchers now say; by age 11 or 12, if a child is still insisting on a trans identity, that’s almost certainly going to persist. Trying to undo that is as brutal as trying to undo later sexual orientation (which our nation has now rejected), and it results in increased risks of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, suicide attempts, and so on.

Consider a case from the 1960s and ’70s in which a psychologist and researcher named John Money intervened after a botched circumcision left a boy without a penis. Money worked with the family to get the boy hormone treatments and reassign him as female, and reported for decades that the child he called “Joan” grew up successfully as a girl. It was a story that portrayed sex and gender as independent, with the latter socially constructed, a view that fit the era. But in the 1990s, the true story came out: “Joan” had never accepted a female gender identity, and by the age of 13 was threatening suicide if he had to continue life as a girl…The moral of the story was that gender is not, in fact, infinitely flexible; rather, we all have a somewhat innate sense of where on the gender spectrum we belong.

Similarly, Box Turtle Bulletin investigated the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This account highlights the devastating consequences that can occur when biased therapists try to enforce strict gender norms that go against a child’s natural gender identity. Box Turtle Bulletin’s important work was turned into a CNN AC360 special report called “The Sissy Boy Experiment.”

Truth Wins Out supports full equality and acceptance for our transgender brothers and sisters. If you are transgender and have questions about health-related issues, please contact Fenway Health.

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