STUDY: Undocumented Transgender Immigrants Face High Levels Of Discrimination

A new analysis from a large study on transgender discrimination finds alarming rates of mistreatment for those trans people. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) estimates there are between 15,000 and 50,000 trans undocumented immigrants, though the number may be higher due to individuals hiding their identities. According to the report, this group faces discrimination in employment, housing, and even their treatment within the immigration system. Here are some of the findings:

  • 39 percent of undocumented transgender workers have lost their jobs due to bias.
  • 85 percent of undocumented transgender immigrants have experienced overtime rate violations in the workplace, but are unable to report the violations because of their immigration status.
  • Undocumented immigrants were three times more likely to experience physical assault (25 percent) or sexual assault (19 percent) in the workplace than other transgender people.
  • 39 percent of undocumented transgender workers earn less than $20,000 per year, including 18 percent who earn less than $10,000.
  • 21 percent of undocumented transgender immigrants have been evicted from their homes due to bias, and they are twice as likely to be homeless than all trans people.
  • 36 percent of undocumented transgender immigrants have no health insurance.

Detention is also a serious concern for this population, because they are often housed by their birth sex, not the gender with which they identify. This mismatch increases their vulnerability to already high rates of sexual abuse, not to mention daily harassment and threats. Often, they are “protected” from this abuse by being placed in protective custody or solitary confinement, which doesn’t prevent abuse by staff and can be harmful to their mental health.

NCTE has joined a coalition of LGBT organizations in calling for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. Though a House majority exists to pass the new immigration bill introduced by Democrats, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will likely not allow a vote on it because a majority of Republicans do not support it.