Congressional Hearing on the Employment Non Discrimination Act

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was originally introduced in 1994, but has yet to become law. Next month, there will be a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to listen and evaluate the bill, which will hopefully result in the long awaited, necessary action.

One of the reasons this bill has yet to be successfully passed is because of past arguments over transgender inclusion. In order to understand what effect excluding this community would mean we can now look to the numbers thanks to a recent, first of its kind, study. The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force worked together to recently released an updated version of their report: Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. This comprehensive report presents devastating data on the disproportionately higher rates of discrimination experienced by transgender people  in the areas of education, employment, housing, public accommodations, access to updated and accurate identification documents, treatment by police and prison officials, as well as health care. 

Importantly, the study reveals that 38% of respondents identified themselves as parents.[1]  Additionally, 45% of respondents reported that their family remains as strong, while 55% reported that their family was not as strong. The study shows that for the majority of transgender parents who transitioned after becoming parents, their relationships with their children remained just as strong as before they transitioned.

This survey highlights that transgender parents are raising children in a society that discriminates against them at an unconscionable rate. While the parent faces much of this discrimination, the obstacles faced by trans parents impact their children as well, especially when it comes to the economic stability of the household. Transgender people face an unemployment rate two times greater than the national average,[2] which then trickles down to the family life that is already burdened by heightened levels of discrimination.

When an employee is discriminated against in the workplace, whether it be through the denial of a promotion or job offer or termination, the impact of that action is felt not just by that individual employee. These economic burdens are also felt by the dependent children and spouse/partner of the employee. Federal protections such as ENDA are vital to insuring that LGBT families are protected in the same manner that all other employees are protected. LGBT families already face numerous hurdles that other families are not burdened with and transgender parents, as is evidenced by Injustice at Every Turn, are the most vulnerable.  We must work to protect ALL of our families.  It’s time to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and ensure workplace protections for all LGBT parents so that our families have a fair shot at the American dream. 

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[1] National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 90.

[2] National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 51.