Report: ‘highest levels’ of discrimination against transgender Native Americans

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From Injustice at Every Turn.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force selected Columbus Day for the timing of its latest report – a study into the pervasive discrimination against transgender Native Americans.

The study, Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at American Indian and Alaskan Native Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, finds discrimination against these populations at the highest level.

NGLTF, announcing the report, said, “The release of this report on Columbus Day is an intentional effort to highlight the specific circumstances that American Indian and Alaskan Native people experience due to a history of colonialism and genocide that continues today with a federal holiday celebrating the ‘discovery’ of America.”

The paper is the result of a partnership between NGLTF, one of the nation’s older LGBT civil rights groups, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

“This report shows the devastating impact that racism and anti-transgender bias play in the lives of American Indian and Alaskan Native transgender people,” said Rea Carey, NGLTF’s executive director. “The findings are as heartbreaking as they are unconscionable. They serve as a call to action to the LGBT movement and others to prioritize racial and economic justice and the needs of indigenous nations.”

The report finds:

• American Indian and Alaskan Native transgender and gender non-conforming people often live in extreme poverty, with 23 percent reporting a household income of less than $10,000 per year. This compares to the rate of 15 percent for transgender people of all races. The rate is about three times the general American Indian and Alaskan Native population rate (8 percent), and nearly six times the general U.S. population rate (4 percent).

• American Indian and Alaskan Native transgender and gender non-conforming people had a very high unemployment rate at 18 percent, well over twice the rate of the general population (7 percent) at the time the survey was fielded.

• American Indian and Alaskan Native respondents who attended school expressing a transgender identity or gender non-conformity reported rates of harassment at 86 percent, physical assault at 51 percent and sexual assault at 21 percent in K-12.

• American Indian and Alaskan Native transgender and gender non-conforming people were affected by HIV in “devastating numbers:” 3.24 percent reported being HIV positive and an additional 8.53 percent reported that they did not know their status.

• Fifty-six percent of American Indian and Alaskan Native transgender respondents reported having attempted suicide compared to 41 percent of all study respondents.

“These findings underscore the importance of recognizing that Two-Spirit, trans and gender non-conforming American Indians and Alaskan Natives are a significant and too-often-marginalized part of LGBT communities, and communities that face substantial and sometimes unique challenges,” said NCTE executive director Mara Keisling. “This research contributes to our long-held belief that policy makers must understand and act on the deep disparities that exist within people of color communities.”