Glaad Media Reference (Transgender Terms Defined) – GLAAD Media Reference Guide – Transgender Issues

UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates there are 700,000 transgender people in the United States. But according to a 2013 Pew poll, only 8% of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender – compared to 90% of Americans who say they personally know someone who is lesbian, gay, or bisexual. If a stereotypical or defamatory LGB image appears in the media, viewers can compare it to real people they know. But when a stereotypical or defamatory transgender image appears in the media, the viewer may assume that all transgender people are actually like that; they have no real-life experience with which to compare it.

Social Issues Facing Transgender People

Transgender people, particularly transgender women, are disproportionately affected by hate violence.In 2013, 72% of LGBT homicide victims were transgender women, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. In 2012, 53% of LGBT homicide victims were transgender women. The majority were transgender women of color. For information on covering stories where a transgender person has been the victim of a crime please see the In Focus section on Hate Crimes and our report “Doubly Victimized: Reporting on Transgender Victims of Crime.”

Transgender people face high levels of discrimination and poverty. According to the largest national survey of transgender people, the community experiences unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate. Transgender people are four times more likely to live in poverty. Ninety percent of trans people report experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job. Forty-one percent of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population. More statistics from this survey may be found here.

Access to healthcare is extremely limited for transgender people. The American Medical Association has stated that treatment for gender dysphoria is medically necessary and involves changing the body to align with a person’s gender identity (their internal sense of being a man or a woman.) Trying to change a person’s gender identity is no more successful than trying to change a person’s sexual orientation – it just doesn’t work. However, private insurance companies treat transition-related medical care as if it is cosmetic – regularly inserting “transgender exclusion clauses” into health insurance plans making access to care difficult, if not impossible, for most transgender people. Several states, including California, Illinois, and Massachusetts, have issued regulations ordering insurance companies to cover medical care for transgender people – but even in those states many transition-related treatments may still not be covered. Improving access to healthcare is a high priority for the transgender community.

Transgender people are still prohibited from serving openly in the United States military. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” only applied to lesbian, gay, and bisexual military personnel. The Palm Center estimates that there are over 15,000 transgender people currently serving in the armed forces, in addition to approximately 130,000 veterans. At least a dozen nations, including Australia, Canada, England and Israel, allow military service by transgender people.