Transgender Equality (part 2)

with Mara Keisling of National Center for Transgender Equality

National Community

In December of 2016, the National Center formTransgender Equality released results of the largest survey of transgender people conducted to date.  Some of the key findings include:

  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.
  • A staggering 39% of respondents were currently experiencing serious psychological distress, compared with only 5% of the U.S. population.
  • Nearly one-third (29%) of transgender respondents were living in poverty, compared to 14% in the U.S. population.
  • A major contributor to the high rate of poverty is respondents’ 15% unemployment rate—three times higher that of the U.S. population at the time of the survey (5%).
  • Nearly one-third (30%) of respondents have been homeless at some point in their lifetime, and 12% were homeless in the year prior to completing the survey.

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE joins Robert Traynham for a discussion about Transgender Equality.  Click here for part 1 of Transgender Equality.

Visit the National Center for Transgender Equality on the web, on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Interview recorded on May 17, 2017.  Hosted by Robert Traynham.  Part 2 of 2.

Read a partial transcript of this interview below:

Traynham: Speaking of data, its an enormous amount of data. As I mentioned, this is a 2015 survey. But correct me if Im wrong. This information is still pertinent today as it was, I assume, a year and a half, two years ago. And assuming that thats true, what are the lessons learned from all this data that youve received, and what are you going to do with that data on a go-forward basis?

Keisling: So, we expect to do the survey every five years.

Traynham: Why every five years?

Traynham: Its a pretty huge undertaking for a small community and a small movement and a smaller organization. And every five years, we hope to be able to see that there are changes.

Traynham: I see.

Keisling: Hopefully, the changes will be mostly in the right direction.

Traynham: I see.

Keisling: So, we hope to do it every five years. Well do it again in 2020. The numbers are very much pertinent now. Theres certain things I think have changed. For instance, the data was collected before the North Carolina bathroom conversation happened and the big conversation with America about transgender people in the bathroom. Even so, we saw in the survey that transgender people were avoiding using public restrooms because they were afraid of discrimination. We see folks who dont eat or drink in the mornings so that they wont have to use the restrooms at work.

Traynham: Hmm.

Keisling: The big public conversation is happening now. We didnt want it, but we have it. And you know, I am anxious to see, in 2020, has it improved, has it deteriorated? We just dont know.

Traynham: Mara, based on the survey results, what is your organization focused on?

Keisling: This survey has done a really good job of helping us understand where things are now in terms of discrimination. And our policy docket — Were largely a policy organization. Our policy docket is based on the places where the most people need the most help the most. In addition to that, while our policy work is very important — I believe its important, Im very proud of it — we also know that the most important work that anybody in our community does is telling their stories — telling their stories to their family, their classmates, the people they worship with, et cetera. So weve developed a storytelling project. And we use the survey to identify areas where we need to increase storytelling in the country. And in fact, there was a storytelling component. In addition to the survey, we asked all 20,000 people, “Do you have a story that the public should know about?” And about 13,000, or something like that — a lot of folks said, “Yes, I do.” So we go back and we visit those stories that they gave us then, and then find those people and say, “Hey, will you tell your story more publicly? Well help.” So the survey has been phenomenal for our work.