National Transgender Discrimination Survey

national trans discrimination survey

In 2011, NCTE and the National LGBTQ Task Force released the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Interviews with over 6,400 transgender and gender non-conforming people make it the largest such study ever conducted.  The study has been a game changer—both for our policy work and for cultural change. For the first time, we were able to quantify the discrimination and violence transgender people face. NCTE is now working on a second iteration of the survey, the U.S. Trans Survey, to be released in 2016 that will measure how things are now and how they have changed over the past five years. The findings from the NTDS are available in multiple reports that cover specific subpopulations and issues.

Transgender people face discrimination and violence throughout society, from their family growing up, in school, at work, by homeless shelters, by doctors, in emergency rooms, before judges, by landlords, and even police officers.  Here are just a few statistics from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey:


  • Transgender people are four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000/ year compared to the general population.


  • Those who expressed a transgender identity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (78%), physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%); harassment was so severe that it led almost one-sixth (15%) to leave school or college. 


  • Survey respondents experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the general population at the time of the survey, with rates for Black transgender people being four times the national rate, and other trans people of color at elevated rates.


  • Ninety percent (90%) of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it.
  • Over one-quarter (26%) reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming and 50% were harassed.
  • Sixteen percent (16%) said they had to work in the underground economy for income such as doing sex work or selling drugs.
  • The vast majority (78%) of those who transitioned from one gender to the other reported that they felt more comfortable at work and their job performance improved, despite high levels of mistreatment.


  • 19% reported having been refused a home or apartment because of their gender identity/expression.
  • 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity/expression.
  • One-fifth (19%) reported experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives because they were transgender.
  • The majority of those trying to access a homeless shelter were harassed by shelter staff or residents (55%), 29% were turned away altogether, and 22% were sexually assaulted by residents or staff.


  • Fifty-three percent (53%) of respondents reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.


  • A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.


  • Of those who have transitioned gender, only one-fifth (21%) have been able to update all of their IDs and records with their new gender.
  • Forty percent (40%) of those who presented ID (when it was required in the ordinary course of life) that did not match their gender identity/expression reported being harassed, 3% reported being attacked or assaulted, and 15% reported being asked to leave.


  • One-fifth (22%) of respondents who have interacted with police reported harassment by police, with much higher rates reported by people of color.
  • Almost half of the respondents (46%) reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance.
  • 16% of respondents who had been to jail or prison reported being physically assaulted and 15% reported being sexually assaulted.


  • Nineteen percent (19%) of the sample reported being refused medical care due to their transgender status, with even higher numbers among people of color in the survey.


Despite all of the discrimination faced by transgender people, if their family accepted them, they were much more likely to avoid many negative health outcomes and other negative outcomes. For example, those who were accepted by family members were:

  • Less likely to use alcohol and drugs to deal with the mistreatment they face (19% if accepted, 32% if not)
  • Less likely to experience homelessness (9% if accepted versus 26% if not)
  • Less likely to attempt suicide (32% if accepted, and 51% if not)
  • Less likely to need to do sex work for income (11% if accepted, 19% if not)
  • Less likely to go to jail (11% if accepted, 19% if not)

All of the statistics above are from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force. The study included 6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming study participants: diverse set of people, from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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February 15, 2015

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The U.S. Trans Survey is the new name of the largest survey ever devoted to the lives and experiences of trans people.

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