Report: Nearly Half of African-American Transgender People Attempt Suicide

Homophobia does more than merely hurt someone's feelings — it ushers in violence, bullying, mental health issues and severe discrimination, a new study finds.

Posted: 10/14/2011 11:59 AM EDT
Report: Nearly Half of African-American Transgender People Attempt Suicide

A study of 6,500 transgender Americans from across the country has found that while all transgender people face severe bias in housing, health care, education and employment,  Black participants fared worse in almost every category.

 

In fact, people who are both Black and transgender face such an uphill climb, the study says, that nearly half of them have attempted suicide during their lifetime.


The findings were published in Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a collaboration between the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Black Justice Coalition.


Injustice at Every Turn reported the following eye-opening data on the double whammy experienced by Black transgender study participants:


•    Almost 50 percent of the respondents had attempted suicide once in their lifetime.


•    20 percent were HIV-positive (compared to 2.4 percent in the Black population as a whole), and an additional 10 percent did not know their status.


•     At school, 49 percent faced harassment; 21 percent dropped out because of severe harassment; 15 percent were sexually abused/attacked at school; and 6 percent were expelled due to bias.


•    41 percent have been homeless at some point (five times the rate of the general U.S. population)


•    34 percent reported not seeking medical attention when injured or sick for fear of being discriminated against in health care settings.


•    Thirty-two percent lost a job due to bias; 48 percent were not hired because of bias; 34 percent live in extreme poverty, with household income of less than $10,000 a year; and almost 50 percent admitted to having to sell drugs or perform sex work in order to earn money to survive.


Sharon Lettman, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said that the toll of discrimination against the Black transgender community was even worse than she had expected.


“This data is alarming and heightened my awareness as an advocate,” she told BET.com.  “It's ringing the alarm on what we need to do as a community.”


She added, "Our Black transgender sisters and brothers are Black people, too, and we have to love them better."

(Photo: EPA/ANDRE KOSTERS /Landov)

From Our Partners