Transgender individuals face discrimination, stress

A survey of over 400 transgender Massachusetts residents found that nearly two-thirds had experienced discrimination over the past year in public places, ranging from hotels, stores, restaurants, and theaters to health clinics, hospitals, and public transportation, according to a new report. Those who reported unfair treatment, denial of service based on gender identity or appearance, aggressive language, or physical threats were much more likely to report headaches and other physical and emotional symptoms of stress than those reporting no discrimination. Some also reported delaying seeking medical help out of fear of discrimination.

The report was released July 17, 2014 by Project VOICE, a community-based research collaboration between The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, which conducted the study.

“Unfortunately, those of us who work with gender minority communities know that mistreatment is all too common,” lead investigator Sari Reisner, postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and research scientist at The Fenway Institute, said in a statement. “In addition to being a matter of social justice, protecting gender minority communities from mistreatment is a matter of public health. Discrimination is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of our community.”

The authors cited a need for training health care workers to be more sensitive to the needs of transgender individuals, and recommended that Massachusetts pass a pending bill that would help protect their rights in public settings.

Read the press release: The Fenway Institute and MTPC Release Project VOICE Report on Transgender Discrimination in Public Accommodations

Read the report: Discrimination and Health in Massachusetts: A Statewide Survey of Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Adults

Read a Boston Globe article: Transgender people detail bias they face

Read a WBUR CommonHealth blog: Survey: Transgender Discrimination In Mass. Public Spots, Health Effects Seen