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The 47 percent is really about employment discrimination

September 19, 2012

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It’s been all over the news. In one world people really believe that 47 percent of the country consists of freeloaders and moochers because they are unemployed or don’t earn enough to pay income tax.

Aside from the fact that most Americans pay taxes – sales tax, Social Security payroll tax, gas taxes, and income taxes – people who buy into this “they’re all lazy” idea  just don’t have a grasp on the real world, the reality that far too many people in the country live each and every day struggling to stay afloat.

And there’s evidence to back this up. In a 2009 Pew poll 92 percent of respondents believed that hard work was the key to success, which goes against the idea that there are a lot of lazy people out there. While people do believe that the government should provide a minimum safety net, what most people really want is a fair shot to succeed.

The idea of the social safety net and the social compact are pretty simple. If you fall on hard times and need help the government will be there to help with the bare minimum – food, health insurance, and a safe place to sleep. These aren’t entitlements. They’re the basic necessities to living in modern society.

When you think about it, all of these so-called “entitlements” can be directly linked back to employment and having a successful career in your chosen profession. Without stable employment, people are unable to access healthcare, food, housing, and “you-name-it.” For example, most Americans get their health insurance coverage through their employer. Also, access to housing and the ability to put food on the table are nearly impossible without a reliable source of income.

But people who think that almost half the country just wants a handout don’t seem to consider that many Americans, especially LGBT people, are un- or under-employed solely because of discrimination. In fact, LGBT people experience employment discrimination every day. Currently, 34 states lack laws that clearly protect transgender people, and 29 states lack laws that clearly protect lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, from employment discrimination. And no federal law explicitly protects LGBT people from employment discrimination, leaving LGBT people without legal recourse in many places.

So the real message the anti-government crowd is sending is that it is your fault if you experience employment discrimination and the government shouldn’t have to help you and your family survive in the face of employer-sponsored bigotry.

But the reality is that LGBT Americans should be entitled to a workplace free of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

So we decided to find some actual statistics about 47 percent of transgender people. According to the ground breaking report conducted by the Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality,  Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 47 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming people experience very negative outcomes in employment, family rejection, and homelessness. For example:

  • 47 percent of survey respondents have experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion, because of being transgender or gender non-conforming.
  • 47 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming people who were unemployed also experienced family rejection.
  • 47 percent of respondents had to leave a homeless shelter due to poor treatment because of their gender identity or gender non-conformity.

Employment discrimination is no joke. Share this info graphic on your social media pages to get the word out!

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