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New analysis shows startling levels of discrimination against Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander transgender people

July 19, 2012

Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (API) transgender and gender non-conforming people face high levels of discrimination according to an analysis released today, Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.

This analysis by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a supplement to the comprehensive national study released last year, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which revealed widespread discrimination experienced by transgender and gender non-conforming people across the board.

A key finding of the full report was that, even given the high levels of discrimination against all transgender people in the U.S., people of color experienced heightened levels of discrimination and had worse outcomes than the sample overall. API transgender people faced the combination of anti-transgender bias with structural and interpersonal racism.

Anjali Chaudhry, who serves on the board of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, says:

From employment discrimination to education to health care disparities, Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander transgender people are suffering at high rates due to bigotry, racism and transphobia. This is unacceptable. NQAPIA is committed to bringing visibility to these inequities and to creating a world where transgender and gender non-conforming people can go about their daily lives without fear of discrimination, harassment or violence.

The new supplemental analysis was released at the 2012 NQAPIA Conference, which kicked off today in Washington, D.C. Among the findings:

  • API transgender people had a high unemployment rate at 12 percent, nearly twice the rate of the general population at the time the survey was fielded (7 percent).
  • API transgender people often live in extreme poverty, with 18 percent reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year. This is higher than the rate for transgender people of all races (15 percent), six times the general API population rate (3 percent) and over four times the general U.S. population rate (4 percent).
  • API respondents who attended school as transgender people reported alarming rates of harassment (65 percent), physical assault (39 percent) and sexual assault (19 percent) in K-12; harassment was so severe that it led 11 percent to leave school. Six percent were also expelled due to bias.
  • Nearly 5 percent of API transgender people reported being HIV-positive and an additional 10 percent reported that they did not know their status.
  • Forty-four percent (44%) of API transgender and gender non-conforming people have experienced significant family acceptance. Those respondents who were accepted by their families were much less likely to face discrimination.

Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says:

The numbers make clear the way that racism, anti-immigrant and anti-transgender bias all work together, often with devastating results in the lives of API transgender people. This report is a critical call to action. We must ensure that we continue to work toward an LGBT movement that prioritizes immigration, racial and economic justice.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, says:

These findings underscore the importance of recognizing that API transgender people are a significant and too-often marginalized part of both API and LGBT communities, and one that faces substantial and sometimes unique challenges. And the broader racial justice analysis has too often excluded API’s. This research contributes to our long-held belief that policy makers must understand and act on the deep disparities that exist within people of color communities.

Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey is available in English, Chinese (traditional), Hindi, Korean, Tagalog, Tamil and Vietnamese. Download the reports here.

 For the full Injustice at Every Turn report, go here.

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