Black Transgender People

“Intersectionality” is a big term that means something simple:  if you belong to more than one minority group, you’re likely to have even more problems than peers who belong to just one of those minority groups.  There’s no better example of the results of intersectionality than a new publication issued by the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

 “Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Black Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” is a four-page fact sheet that highlights findings from the 381 NTDS respondents who said they were both Black or Black multiracial and transgender.  While these respondents were of every age, it is critical to remember that the economic, health, and social problems people have as young and middle-aged adults lay the groundwork for even more economic, health, and social problems in old age.

 Highlights of the report include:

  •  Black transgender people live in extreme poverty with 34% reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year.  This is more than twice the rate for transgender people of all races (15%), four times the general Black population rate (9%), and over eight times the general US population rate (4%).
  •  Black transgender people are affected by HIV in devastating numbers.  Over one-fifth of Black respondents were HIV-positive (20.23%) and an additional 10% reported that they did not know their status.  This compares to rates of 2.64% for transgender respondents of all races, 2.4% for the general Black population, and 0.60% of the general US population.
  •  41% of Black respondents had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, over five times the rate of the general US population.  Of those who experienced homelessness, many tried to access shelters but were either denied access altogether (40%) or experienced harassment (61%), physical assault (32%), or sexual assault (31%) at the shelter.
  •  Generally African-Americans have much lower suicide rates than other racial groups.  However, 49% of Black transgender respondents reported having attempted suicide at some point, compared to 41% of transgender people of all races and 1.6% for the general U.S. population.
  •  38% of Black transgender people who had interacted with the police reported harassment, 14% reported physical assault, and 6% reported sexual assault.  51% reported discomfort seeking police assistance.
  •  On the other hand, despite widespread beliefs that the Black community is more homophobic and transphobic than the white community, Black NTDS respondents who were out to their families found acceptance at a higher rate than the overall sample of transgender respondents.

 The report is available here:  http://www.transequality.org/PDFs/BlackTransFactsheetFINAL_090811.pdf

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