November 13, 2015 at 7:00 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
‘Devastating’ poverty for D.C. trans residents
Day of Remembrance, gay news, Washington Blade

This year’s Trans Day of Remembrance features a week’s worth of related events. (Washington Blade photo by Vladyslav Rekhovskyy)

More than 46 percent of transgender people living in Washington, D.C., who participated in a newly released survey earn less than $10,000 a year, with 57 percent of trans persons of color making below $10,000.

The survey also found that 36 percent of the transgender respondents reported being unemployed compared to an overall D.C. unemployment rate of 9 percent. Black trans persons had the highest rate of unemployment – 55 percent.

And for trans people who have been employed, half reported experiencing workplace harassment because of their gender identity and 13 percent reported being physically assaulted at the workplace.

The survey findings were scheduled to be released on Friday, Nov. 13, in a 116-page report called “Access Denied: 2015 Washington, D.C. Trans Needs Assessment Report.”

The survey and report were put together as part of a five-year academic oriented project organized by the D.C. Trans Coalition.

Conducted between May 2012 and May 2013, the survey is the “largest city-based, trans-specific needs assessment in U.S. history, with over 500 participants,” according to the report.

“Washington, D.C. has many of the most progressive and trans inclusive non-discrimination laws in the nation, yet transgender, transsexual, trans-spectrum (henceforth ‘trans’) and gender non-conforming residents continue to experience devastatingly high rates of poverty, under- and unemployment, employment discrimination, and health disparities,” the report says.

Among the survey’s findings is a large percentage of transgender people who reported being unemployed – 51 percent – said they work at least one job in what the report calls the “grey” or “underground” economy. Included in that category is sex work, the report says.

“Over a third (36 percent) of respondents report having engaged in sex work, or the exchange of sexual acts for money, housing and/or drugs, either currently or in the past,” according to the report.

“Significantly, those who had a history of sex work were also more likely to be HIV positive (43 percent) compared to those with no history (8 percent),” the report says.

The report says the survey found that trans people experience “disturbingly high rates” of assault and harassment. It says 74 percent reported being verbally assaulted, 42 percent reported being physically assaulted and 35 percent sexually assaulted.

“Trans feminine individuals are more likely than trans masculine individuals to have been assaulted,” the report says. It says 57 percent of trans feminine individuals reported being assaulted compared to 17 percent of trans masculine individuals.

The report says 54 percent of black and 60 percent of Hispanic trans persons reported being physically assaulted compared to 21 percent of whites.

In the area of housing, the report says the survey found roughly one out of every four respondents reported being denied a lease due to being perceived as transgender. Trans feminine individuals (28 percent) were twice as likely to have been denied a lease as trans masculine individuals (13 percent).

Among those taking the survey, 20 percent reported they were currently experiencing homelessness, the report says. “Half of those currently experiencing homelessness report relying on grey or underground economic work for income (such as sex work),” it says.

The survey found that fewer trans persons living in the D.C. area had a four-year college degree or a two-year associate degree than cisgender people. Trans people lacking an associate degree or higher were three times more likely to be unemployed than trans persons with such a degree, the survey found.

“As compared to trans persons who have obtained higher education degrees, trans persons lacking a higher education degree were 5 times more likely to earn less than $10,000 a year, 4 times more likely to engage in sex work and were 40 percent less likely to be currently employed,” the report says.

“Disturbingly 100 percent of trans persons who report having achieved no form of higher education also report they were currently unemployed,” says the report.

The report includes these additional findings:

• Among those who took the survey, only half reported they have any form of identification that reflects their gender identity.

• Of those who were eligible to vote, 77 percent of white trans individuals were registered to vote, 80 percent of Hispanic individuals were registered to vote, and 69 percent of the trans respondents who identified as black were registered to vote.

• Twenty-one percent of trans respondents reported being HIV positive, a rate seven times greater than the general D.C. population rate of being HIV positive of 2.4 percent.

• “Nearly one-third of all trans feminine respondents reported living with HIV, and an astounding 75 percent of those reported living with HIV were persons of color.”

• A majority of respondents had procedures or treatment for the purpose of transitioning from one gender to another, with many receiving care from unlicensed practitioners or sources.

• Sixty-five percent had undergone such procedures or treatment and 23 percent planned to do so in the future. Thirty percent had used “some form of unlicensed care or source.”

• Sixty percent had “seriously” considered suicide, 34 percent had attempted suicide and 10 percent had attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

• Among those who had attempted suicide, 61 percent had been physically assaulted and 54 percent had been sexually assaulted.

Among the authors and contributors to the report are Elijah Adiv Edelman, Ph.D., Principal Investigator and Project Manager; Ruby Corado, Co-Investigator and Survey Collection Manger; Jason Terry, Resource Management Coordinator; and Elena C. Lumby, DrPH Candidate and Lead Statistician. Jody Herman, Ph.D. of the Williams Institute, collaborated with the survey team in designing the survey, the report says.

The report says the survey consisted of 80 questions and was distributed both online and through in-person interviews. Upon closing the survey in May 2013, 624 surveys were completed with a total of 521 deemed qualifying for inclusion in the data analysis, according to the report.

 The Blade obtained an embargoed copy of the report for publication on Nov. 13. This story will be updated with reaction from local officials at

Washington, D.C. will commemorate the annual Trans Day of Remembrance with a week’s worth of events. “These events are meant to show that in addition to mourning the dead, the trans community is here to celebrate and fight for the living,” according to a Facebook event page.

Ruby Corado, detention, gay news, Washington Blade

Ruby Corado served as project manager for the study. She announced this week plans to take a leave of absence at Casa Ruby. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Friday, Nov. 13:

Release of the 2015 DCTC Trans Needs Assessment Report

Hosted By DC Trans Coalition and Casa Ruby

City Hall – John A. Wilson Building – 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

1-2 p.m.

Transgender, Mental Health, and Disability: An Intersectional Panel Discussion

Hosted By Autistic Self Advocacy Network – DC

Tenleytown Library – 4450 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.

4 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 14:

Comics Workshop: Celebrating Trans Comics Creators

Hosted by Fantom Comics

2010 P St., N.W.

2-4 p.m.

Speak For Change: Trans Open Mic Benefit for Casa Ruby w/Venus Selenite

Hosted by The Lamont Street Collective

1822 Lamont St., N.W.

7 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 15:

Marsha P. Johnson Documentary Screening & Discussion on Violence Against Trans Sex Workers

Hosted By HIPS

906 H St., N.E.

2-5 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 16:

Trans 101: A Panel Discussion

Hosted by GWU Allied in Pride, GWU AQWA, GWU Progressive Student Union, and GU Queer People of Color

Marvin Center, 800 21st St., N.W., Room 310

7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 17:

Trans Justice March

Hosted by DC Trans Power and Blackout DC

Mt. Vernon Square

5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 18:

National ‘Trans Lives Matter’ Day of Action

Hosted by El/La Para Translatinas, TransLatin@ Coalition, and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement

Columbia Heights Metro Station Plaza

5-6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 19:

Trans Day of Remembrance Vigil and Speakout

Hosted By: AU Queers and Allies – Trans and Nonbinary Collective

4400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Mary Gradon Center 2-3

8:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 20

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Metropolitan Community Church

474 Ridge St., N.W.

6-8 p.m.

(Participating organizations include: Casa Ruby, HIPS, Blackout DC, DC Trans Power, DC Trans Coalition, El/La Para Translatinas, TransLatin@ Coalition, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Autistic Self Advocacy Network – DC, Fantom Comics, The Lamont Street Collective, GWU Allied in Pride, GWU Association of Queer Women and Allies (AQWA), GWU Progressive Student Union, GU Queer People of Color, AU Community Action and Social Justice Coalition (CASJ), AU Queers and Allies – Queer and Trans People of Color, and AU Queers and Allies – Trans and Nonbinary Collective)

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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