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Recent report showcases struggles for New York's TGNC workers

Within the last couple of decades, New York City’s lawmakers have worked hard to try to minimize the amount of discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) individuals. In 2002, they passed the New York City Transgender Rights Law to ban discriminating against TGNC people and denying them access to their preferred bathrooms. This year, they became the fifth place in the U.S. to offer gender-neutral birth certificates, giving residents the option to mark “X” instead of male or female.

However, while these laws made it easier for TGNC residents, it did not eliminate the discrimination against the community as a whole. The New York City Anti-Violence Project recently published a report that focused on the amount of discrimination TGNC employees were receiving in the workplace. Despite the laws in the city, many feel that there is still have a long way to go before these workers will feel safer in their work environment.

How much are struggling?

The title of the report is “Individual Struggles, Widespread Injustice.” It features survey responses from nearly 120 TGNC workers in New York City for a nearly 2-year period after the city’s Gender Identity/Gender Expressions Legal Enforcement Guidance published in 2016. The study reveals that 22 percent of these respondents are unemployed, 57 percent of them had to choose a gender that they did not feel was their true one and 31 percent were illegally asked about the gender they were assigned at birth during their interviews.

The unfair treatment is still present for those that did make it past the interview process. 36 percent found offensive graphic art about them made by coworkers and 33 percent have been verbally harassed. Even those that get jobs do not get high paying ones. Despite the high rates of TGNC individuals receiving a bachelor’s degree in the city, over half of the respondents have incomes lower than $30,000 per year. This is especially concerning given how New York City’s cost of living is significantly higher than the national average.

What can be done?

The report also demonstrates that many of these workers either fear or have faced work retaliation for speaking up against discriminatory behavior. Out of the 35 percent who were not out to at least one of their coworkers, 56 percent of them refused to do so out of fear of losing their position or a promotion opportunity. They believe revealing their gender identity to their employer or coworkers would jeopardize their careers and further isolate them from their coworkers.

TGNC workers should be aware that workplace retaliation and discrimination against them is illegal in New York City. Employers should be hiring workers based on their work experience and qualifications and not resort to bias against certain genders. They should also ensure that these workers get access to the right bathrooms, have coworkers call them the correct pronouns and receive fair treatment. If you or a loved one experience discrimination or harassment in your workplace for your gender identity, you should consider acquiring legal assistance if informing your employer about it doesn’t seem to work out.

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