Discrimination against transgender individuals is causing disproportionate mental health issues in the Washington, D.C. area, with 37 percent of trans respondents reporting psychological distress compared to an overall 5 percent national average in 2011, a National Center for Transgender Equality study found.
The survey responses, coupled with increasing rates of homelessness and unemployment in the trans community in D.C., are raising concerns about resources available for trans Georgetown students. A rise in hate crimes and disproportionate discrimination against trans individuals in housing and employment matches a trend of violence toward trans individuals nationwide and in the District.
The number of anti-transgender hate crimes has increased 90 percent from 2015 to 2016, from 10 in 2015 to 19 in 2016, according to statistics from the Metropolitan Police Department’s hate crime report. Nationwide, hate crimes rose 6 percent in that same time period, according to the FBI.
According to a New York Times article published June 2016, 39 of the total reported 88 LGBT homicides in the country between the years 2012-2015 were committed against black transgender women.
The NCTE survey reports 27 percent of 214 D.C. respondents who were employed experienced workplace discrimination, despite efforts by advocacy groups and the D.C. Council to raise awareness of bias-related incidents and push for greater legal protections for transgender individuals.
Eleven percent of respondents said that they have experienced homelessness in the past year because of their identity. Sixteen percent said they are living in poverty.
The National Center for Transgender Equality survey documents the experiences of transgender individuals around the nation. NCTE last conducted the survey from 2008 to 2009.
The majority of the 214 D.C. respondents attributed the causes of these experiences to their gender identity.
NCTE’s report confirmed the D.C. Office of Human Rights’ own resume testing, an analysis of how employers respond to resumes from potential applicants who identify as transgender compared with applicants who identify as cisgender.
The 2015 resume test was the first government-run testing in the nation that made its results public. OHR found that 48 percent of employers in the District were more inclined to hire less qualified, cisgender applicants, than they were to employ or even interview more highly qualified transgender applicants.
Out of all the applicants during this resume testing, transgender black men received the highest level of discrimination, according to the results of the resume testing.
Additionally, the NCTE survey found 58 percent of respondents avoided public restrooms out of fear of harassment or confrontation, and 44 percent of respondents experienced mistreatment from the police ranging from physical and verbal abuse to sexual assault.
The NCTE introduced the national survey in 2015, as a follow-up to the results released in 2011 from the first 2008-2009 survey which aimed to highlight the discrimination faced by transgender individuals in their everyday lives across the country.
The survey was conducted after the D.C. Council passed a bill to protect the identity of transgender individuals after name changes in 2013 but before the District became the first jurisdiction in the country to offer a gender neutral option on licenses in June 2017.
Currently, the D.C. Council is considering a bill to decriminalize sex work, which LGBT advocates say would benefit trans individuals.
A bill sponsored by Councilmembers David Grosso (I-At Large) and Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large) has received support from local LGBT advocacy groups including Casa Ruby, a community resource center, the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, the D.C. Anti-Violence Project and Whitman-Walker Health, a health center in Logan Circle.
“The criminalization of sex work disproportionately affects the LGBTQ community, specifically LGBTQ people of color,” the Anti-Violence Project told the Washington Blade Oct. 5.
Ruby Corado, executive director of center Casa Ruby, told the Blade decriminalization ends up disproportionally incarcerating transgender women who end up with HIV.
HIPS, a nonprofit organization that specializes in harm reduction among sex workers, people experiencing homelessness and drug users, conducted the D.C. research for NCTE’s national survey.
Zachary Frial (SFS’18), who works as an intern for HIPS, said he believes transgender discrimination extends across the District into Georgetown University. The university could be doing more to support its transgender students, Friel said.
“The university is able to tolerate us at an arm’s distance, but they don’t want to meet all of the demands that queer and trans students have,” Frial said.
Frial said students applied for a gender and sexuality or queer living and learning community last year. Their proposal was denied by the university in 2016.
The Hoya previously reported a proposal from students who applied for an LLC for the 2017-2018 school year called “Crossroads: Gender and Sexuality” that would be inclusive to students in the LGBTQ community was rejected by Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson.
Olson told The Hoya the proposal did raise concerns about how Georgetown’s housing arrangements align with the school’s Catholic and Jesuit identity.
Frial compared Georgetown to the University of California, Berkeley, citing the discrepancy between the levels of support that the two schools—of similar academic caliber—provide to their queer and transgender students.
Berkeley provides medical insurance for its transgender students and their specific needs, covering hormone therapy, gender reaffirmation surgery, electrolysis of the neck and face and tracheal shave, according to Berkeley’s website.
Frial said the support Georgetown provides to its transgender students does not match Berkeley’s programs.
Georgetown currently offers an LGBTQ Center and the Women’s Center and Campus Ministry as resources for LGBTQ students.
Beyond that students are able to change their name on the MyAccess registration portal to a preferred name and keep their legal name private.
Frial said Georgetown still lacks the resources schools like Berkeley have.
“They provide for all medical services that trans people require or ask for,” Frial said. “I hardly think Georgetown will ever get to a point where that is possible.”