2015 U.S. Transgender Survey Report
December 8, 2016 7:12 AM   Subscribe

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) is the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the United States, with 27,715 respondents from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases overseas. (Full report. Executive Summary) The USTS was for all trans-identified people, including genderqueer and non-binary people, at any stage of their lives, journey, or transition. Participants had to be currently living in the United States or a U.S. territory, or be living abroad on a U.S. military base.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (38 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is important. In particular, this provides nicely consolidated information, all with empirical backing, for the rampant mistreatment transgendered individuals experience on a daily basis. That documentation needs to be on-hand and clear/concise when battling deniers of the mistreatment.
posted by mystyk at 7:38 AM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


oooooo exciting! I've been waiting for this to come out for awhile.
posted by odinsdream at 7:39 AM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


From the Executive Summary: Only 11% of respondents reported that all of their IDs had the name and gender they preferred, while more than two-thirds (68%) reported that none of their IDs had the name and gender they preferred.

NCTE's Document Center Find out how to get a legal name change where you live and update your name/gender on state and federal IDs and records.

Trans Law Help
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:42 AM on December 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


as a study coordinator on survey-based research: I'm in complete awe of their response reach. This study is an exemplar on how to reach marginalized communities - check out the methods section in the full report.
posted by jb at 7:53 AM on December 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


an unprecedented number—nearly 28,000—of transgender people completed the survey, more than four times the number of respondents in the 2008–09 NTDS.

Dang!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:59 AM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


There is a Reuters article discussing the results (with the lede being the number of trans people who reported being harassed in restrooms).

Massive survey paints bleak picture for transgender Americans (from ThinkProgress).

There will be more.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 8:09 AM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


While the perfect is certainly the enemy of the good, especially when it comes to trans stuff, it should be noted that, as I recall, the survey did not do a particularly good job of capturing people who have completed the 'active' phase of their transition. (This is also going to be a particularly hard group to sample to begin with, which means capturing them properly in the responses matters even more.)

There were lots of questions like "In the last X months, [whatever]?" and, while "[whatever] does not apply to me in the last X months" was an option, the questions tended to be phrased in such a way that that answer would be understood as "I haven't done [whatever] because I have not reached that phase of my transition" not "I [whatever]ed five years ago" nor "[whatever] is not relevant to my transition plans". There was also a relationship question where the only states a relationship could be in were to be "gone on a few dates", "having casual sex with this person" and "in a committed, expected-to-be-permanent, relationship with this person". (I remember that one because I told my boyfriend we were apparently much more serious than either of us thought.)

Anyway, something to keep in mind.
posted by hoyland at 8:12 AM on December 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


Oh, QuantumMeruit reminded me of an example. There was a question about experiences in bathrooms, but you could only say "I have not been harassed in a bathroom in the last X months" not "I am not visibly trans, but, when I was (which was more than X months ago), I was harassed in the bathroom".
posted by hoyland at 8:19 AM on December 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


PSA for trans people: This report needs a trigger warning for... well, everything. I skimmed it (okay, I was searching for "trans men") and got choked up and depressed within about 10 occurrences of the search term.
posted by AFABulous at 8:21 AM on December 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: Thanks for posting this report. I've been wondering when the results would be published for a while.

Here are some of the more disturbing findings that I've pulled from the Executive Summary. [CW: Lots of references to violence, mental health problems including suicide, sexual violence, drug use, poverty...It's difficult to cover it all.]

We are harassed in schools at a tremendously high rate:
Fifty-four percent (54%) of those who were out or perceived as transgender in K–12 were verbally harassed, nearly one-quarter (24%) were physically attacked, and 13% were sexually assaulted in K–12 because of being transgender.
Trans people of color are living in poverty at around 3 times the rate of the general population:
While respondents in the USTS sample overall were more than twice as likely as the U.S. population to be living in poverty, people of color, including Latino/a (43%), American Indian (41%), multiracial (40%), and Black (38%) respondents, were up to three times as likely as the U.S. population (14%) to be living in poverty
Around 2/5 of us have attempted suicide at some point during our lives:
A staggering 39% of respondents experienced serious psychological distress in the month prior to completing the survey, compared with only 5% of the U.S. population. Among the starkest findings is that 40% of respondents have attempted suicide in their lifetime—nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).
Nearly 7/10 of us cannot get any form of government identification that lists our preferred names and genders:
Only 11% of respondents reported that all of their IDs had the name and gender they preferred, while more than two-thirds (68%) reported that none of their IDs had the name and gender they preferred.
Trans women of color live with HIV at a much higher rate than the population as a whole:
HIV rates were higher among transgender women (3.4%), especially transgender women of color. Nearly one in five (19%) Black transgender women were living with HIV, and American Indian (4.6%) and Latina (4.4%) women also reported higher rates.
We are sexual assaulted in prisons by both staff and inmates at rates much higher than the population as a whole:
Respondents were over five times more likely to be sexually assaulted by facility staff than the U.S. population in jails and prisons, and over nine times more likely to be sexually assaulted by other inmates.
There are a couple of less disturbing findings that I also wanted to share.

For instance, we fuckin' vote in midterms. That's right, some of the most marginalized people in the country make sure to vote in midterms. What's everyone elses' excuse?
More than three-quarters (76%) of U.S. citizens of voting age in the sample reported that they were registered to vote in the November 2014 midterm election, compared
to 65% in the U.S. population. [54% did vote, compared to 42% of the general population.]
Almost none of us are Republicans. Gee, I wonder why that is.
Half (50%) of respondents identified as Democrats, 48% identified as Independents, and 2% identified as Republicans, compared to 27%, 43%, and 27% in the U.S.
population, respectively.
A majority of us said our families of origin are generally supportive of our identities. I hope this number will grow in the coming years.
A majority of respondents (60%) who were out to the immediate family they grew up with said that their family was generally supportive of their transgender identity, while 18% said that their family was unsupportive, and 22% said that their family was neither supportive nor unsupportive.
In conclusion, while things may be improving somewhat, the trans community still experiences disproportionate discrimination, poverty, mental illness, and violence. It's fury-making that certain politicians do everything they can to make our lives worse. We come from a tradition of survival and defiance, though, so if they won't help us, let us serve each other.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 8:26 AM on December 8, 2016 [36 favorites]


Hoyland, as I understand it, many of those "have you experienced ___ in the past ___" questions were written so they would be parallel to other survey instruments, allowing apples-to-apples comparisons to the general population data that's out there.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 8:29 AM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I get why they do it, but for something like the bathroom question, it ends up suggesting harassment is less of a problem than it is. You really want to have both numbers.
posted by hoyland at 8:35 AM on December 8, 2016


A majority of us said our families of origin are generally supportive of our identities.

When you dig into the questions, it looks a lot worse. For example, support drops precipitously for people who transitioned later (over 35). 68% of people in that category experienced family rejection. (Figure 5.18) This has been my experience. Also, on page 71:
More than one-quarter (26%) of respondents reported that an immediate family member stopped speaking to them for a long time or ended their relationship altogether because they were transgender.
This has also been my experience in my friend group. For example, Mom is supportive or indifferent, but Dad doesn't speak to them or is actively rejecting them. Honestly, this hurts just as much as both parents rejecting you, because you can't write both of them off if you want to maintain a relationship with the supportive one. Familial rejection is the biggest driver toward suicide and if I owned a gun I wouldn't be writing this.
posted by AFABulous at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


PSA for trans people: This report needs a trigger warning for... well, everything. I skimmed it (okay, I was searching for "trans men") and got choked up and depressed within about 10 occurrences of the search term.

Yeah, I'm... this is really hard to get through.

Don't underestimate the amount of self-care you might need to practice to attempt to digest this report.
posted by odinsdream at 8:53 AM on December 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I get why they do it, but for something like the bathroom question, it ends up suggesting harassment is less of a problem than it is. You really want to have both numbers.

We want all of the numbers! unfortunately, people are only willing to spend a certain amount of time on a survey. Every survey has to make hard choices about what to include and what to leave out.
posted by jb at 8:59 AM on December 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


...an unprecedented number—nearly 28,000—of transgender people completed the survey, more than four times the number of respondents in the 2008–09 NTDS.

Perfect is the enemy of good, so it's nice that this has come out. Nevertheless, I'm sure that 28,000 is four times less than the number that should have been reporting, for reasons. Either because of fear, hopelessness, surveyors failure to connect, etc. We do want all of the numbers! It's going to be increasingly harder to get in this current political climate.

Nice summary, Excommunicated Cardinal. I just wish it hadn't been so bleak.

Some days, my first thought of the day is why can't we just all live together?
*sigh*
posted by BlueHorse at 9:40 AM on December 8, 2016


A lot of this is really fucking grim, yeah. One happy note for me was seeing the extent to which this year's survey included genderqueer and nonbinary people — not just as an afterthought or a cover-your-ass move that does the bare minimum to avoid community criticism, but as a population they were clearly actively interested in reaching and understanding. This is the first I've seen such extensive side-by-side data on binary trans people and nonbinary people (including lots of acknowledgement that many nonbinary people do transition socially and medically), and it's giving me all the warm fuzzies about being seen and recognized, even in the face of some truly horrifying data.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:17 AM on December 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


I hope cis allies read this (at least the executive summary, which is only 15 pages) and really grok how far the problems go beyond just bathrooms. Public accommodations are definitely important, but those laws crowd out discussion of poverty, homelessness, suicide, etc. I often wonder if they are a purposeful distraction, since apparently no one had a problem with us using bathrooms before the past few election cycles. The bathroom "controversy" also focuses the debate around our genitals (again).

(These thoughts sparked by this tweet series from a trans woman.)
posted by AFABulous at 10:26 AM on December 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


I've pulled out the things that hit me hardest after reading the whole thing and put them on Twitter, starts here, ends here.
posted by odinsdream at 10:26 AM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


The HIV transgender women part is great information for me as a social worker who has a few members ( not the best term) of this population. I already try to be extra careful and extra supportive so they know I'm proud that they live the way they identify and if they need help or advocasy in healthcare settings I will be there no questions asked. The knowledge is so so important.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:26 AM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


We want all of the numbers! unfortunately, people are only willing to spend a certain amount of time on a survey. Every survey has to make hard choices about what to include and what to leave out.

Yes... if it wasn't clear, I was one of the people who filled in the damn survey, so don't lecture me about it. It was long. I nearly walked away several times out of fear that I was distorting the results. So when I say "this is a group of people who weren't well counted", maybe believe me?
posted by hoyland at 10:41 AM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


BlueHorse: Nice summary, Excommunicated Cardinal. I just wish it hadn't been so bleak.

Indeed. I've been trying to come up with some more positive things to post out of the report, but...what little I can find occurs in a context of very dispiriting findings or also has a plausible negative interpretation.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 11:03 AM on December 8, 2016


I think one of the positive things is that people coming out earlier, and families are more supportive than they used to be. Healthcare for trans kids isn't where it should be, but it's better than it used to be. I know a 15 year old who took puberty blockers and is now on HRT. I can't imagine that when I was growing up, and my life would be so different now if that option had been available. It gives me hope that the suicide rates will go down.

It's also great that people are thinking beyond the binary, and you don't have to follow a specific path to be considered a *real* trans person. Lots of people didn't know when they were 5 years old. Not everyone gets medical intervention. Lots of people never get surgery, not because they can't but because they simply don't want to. And those people are valid.
posted by AFABulous at 11:11 AM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I also thought it was interesting to see that the number of trans people serving in the military was down to the US average for young people. Trans people used to serve at a way-above-average rate, and the reasons why had a lot to do with societal transphobia — basically, trans women (or the abusive parents of trans women) hoping the army would beat the sissy out of them, and trans men finding it to be one of the only acceptable outlets for expressing the virtues associated with traditional masculinity. The fact that that's changing for younger people is... well, super complicated and super fraught and not necessarily an unambiguous positive, but it definitely highlights some ways that things are changing, and many of those changes are for the better.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:28 AM on December 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


This trans woman was misgendered repeatedly in court this morning despite warnings from the judge asking the opposing attorney to use my stated pronouns and in the end my custody case was thrown out on a technicality because I can't afford representation, my ex-wife is still a disaster, and her attorney still misgenders me.

This is why we kill ourselves.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:20 PM on December 8, 2016 [24 favorites]


This trans woman was misgendered repeatedly in court this morning despite warnings from the judge asking the opposing attorney to use my stated pronouns and in the end my custody case was thrown out on a technicality because I can't afford representation, my ex-wife is still a disaster, and her attorney still misgenders me.

That is absolute bullshit.
posted by odinsdream at 12:25 PM on December 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm really sorry, Annika. That's complete crap.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:31 PM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ugh, Annika, I'm so sorry.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:40 PM on December 8, 2016


Fuck that guy, Annika.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:48 PM on December 8, 2016


That sucks, Annika. So sorry to hear.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:59 PM on December 8, 2016


I've been looking forward to seeing this for a long time, but now that it's released, I just don't have the heart to dig into it today. Like hoyland, I do remember having nits to pick with some of the questions, but it was so long ago that I don't remember what they were. I do think I just steamrolled over "in the last X months" questions and treated them as "Have you ever/is this still an issue" questions instead. The point of the survey is to examine in more detail areas where there are still problems, and focusing on a more recent timeframe is something that makes sense on the face of it, but potentially papers over where things are really bad.

To give an example, you might ask, "Have you experienced discrimination in accessing healthcare in the past 6 months?" This looks fine, but there are a lot of ways to have an answer that's "No, but." If a person hasn't experienced discrimination in accessing healthcare in the past 6 months, it's not necessarily because healthcare got better. It could be healthcare is so bad that that person was forced to give up on accessing healthcare. There are a few other ways in which a person may not have had negative experiences recently, where that isn't necessarily an indicator that anything improved.

Also, sorry, Annika. People are both awesome and awful, often in the same week.
posted by byanyothername at 3:11 PM on December 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm glad this is being treated seriously and done well as a research endeavor, though hopefully with future improvements. It makes me sad that so much of the findings are negative, but perhaps putting solid data out there helps in at least some cases. There is a long way up that we need to go, though.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:26 PM on December 8, 2016


I'm sure you're right about the questions having some important gaps, but, from the full report: Nearly one-quarter (23%) of respondents reported that they did not seek the health care they needed in the year prior to completing the survey due to fear of being mistreated as a transgender person, and 33% did not go to a health care provider when needed because they could not afford it.
---

Aside from the stats about discrimination, there's a lot of interesting information in this survey. I don't know of any other source that's gathered solid numbers about nb people:

- 35% of the respondents identified as non-binary
- Of those who were non-binary, 80% had female on their original birth certificate, and 20% had male on their original birth certificate.
- Non-binary respondents were more likely to be younger, with nearly two-thirds (61%) being aged 18–24
- One in five (20%) crossdressers were aged 65 or older, compared to only 5% of transgender women, 1% of non-binary respondents, and less than 1% of transgender men (Figure 4.6).

- only 62% of respondents have transitioned
- 82% of trans men say they have transitioned, compared to 68% of trans women and 43% of nonbinary people

- Respondents were most likely to identify as queer (21%), and they also identified as pansexual (18%), gay, lesbian, or same-gender-loving (16%), straight (15%), bisexual (14%), and asexual (10%) (Figure 4.28)
- Eighteen percent (18%) of USTS respondents were currently married, in contrast to 52% in the U.S. adult population (Figure 4.29).49 Almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents have never been married, which is more than twice as many as the U.S. adult population (30%).

Also, interestingly: The USTS sample overall reflected higher educational attainment than the U.S. population, which is common among internet-based surveys. Other studies have found no difference in educational attainment. Their methodology probably adjusts for this but it's possible they're underestimating the rates of unemployment and poverty, because this was an online-only survey.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 11:01 PM on December 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


- Non-binary respondents were more likely to be younger, with nearly two-thirds (61%) being aged 18–24
- One in five (20%) crossdressers were aged 65 or older, compared to only 5% of transgender women, 1% of non-binary respondents, and less than 1% of transgender men (Figure 4.6).


God, I have so many Feelings about this statistic, and about the weird reputation that crossdressers and the CD scene have gotten in trans circles. Like, the fact that identifying as an enby is Cool and Radical and Progressive and identifying as a crossdresser is Dorky and Shameful and Old is such a mess,* especially since the crossdresser community was kind of the first nonbinary community that even existed, and it was still the only community that people-who-we'd-now-describe-as-AMAB-enbies were welcome in (outside a few very-far-left urban queer scenes) until super super recently.

Like, the whole Virginia Prince "We are Normal Straight Men who wear women's clothing" thing depended on an analysis of gender that I don't agree with, but having a place where people could be like "I'm not actually a woman, I'm not actually a gay man either, but femme-of-center presentation is really important to me at least some of the time" was a big fucking deal, and it makes me sad in a weird conflicted way that that scene is fading and that young queers mostly don't care about its history.

*And like to be clear, I'm genderqueer, "enby" is a label I identify with, I'm not ripping on some other corner of the community here.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:43 AM on December 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think all trans women would do better to criticize more the representation of drag and crossdressing in the media and less the drag and crossdressing communities themselves.

I'm a big tent trans gal though.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:16 AM on December 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am hugely encouraged when I see things likeTeen Vogue covering the survey results.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 8:12 AM on December 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


OMG I WANT TO HAVE TEEN VOGUE'S BABIES, they have been killing it lately.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:25 AM on December 9, 2016


Even though it's not my thing, I've always been a crossdresser magnet for whatever reason (I am defining these as either self-identified or "men who ID as cis and bi/straight but sometimes/often like to wear feminine clothing for sexual reasons"). I wonder how many of them were actually trans women or non-binary but due to age/life circumstances, only had the language for "crossdresser." I hope they found whatever path made them happiest. I hope the fact that most CDs in the survey are older means that younger people feel freer to ID as their true selves.

I think a lot about my first sexual partner and [his] confessions that [he] liked wearing feminine clothing and wished [he] had different genitalia. I had nooooooo language or conceptual framework for this at the time. I thought it was some weird, optional fetish and I didn't even know I was trans. I told [him] I didn't want any part of it and I told [him] in no uncertain terms that I only wanted to do [typical gay male stuff]. In retrospect [he] was pretty obviously trans and I feel pretty terrible about my reaction. (I'm using brackets for pronouns because I've completely lost track of [him] after 20 years and I have no idea what [he] prefers.)
posted by AFABulous at 10:06 AM on December 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


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