LGBTQ+ Individuals Face Disadvantages in the Workplace
There is a lack of protections for those across the LGBTQ+ spectrum in the workplace.
Laws are in place to prevent employees from being fired for reporting sexual harassment, being a certain race or ethnicity or suffering from disabilities; however, thousands of individuals are still fired everyday because of their sexual orientations and their gender identities.
When she transitioned in 2014, she was working as an instructional designer; however, because of her gender identity and the inability of her employers to accept her, she now works as a head cashier at a bookstore.
“I get by day-by-day,” Kandler said. “I lost my career. I sell things I’ve acquired and that sort of thing to make money— to make my rent.”
The unemployment rate and poverty rate for transgender people is significantly higher than then national average. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, unemployment rate among respondents was three times the overall rate for the U.S., coming in at 15 percent, compared to five percent, while 29 percent of transgender people were living in poverty, compared to 14 percent for the overall U.S. population.
The Williams Institute found in a meta-analysis of 12 studies that that gay and bisexual men earn somewhere between 10 and 32 percent less than heterosexual men, accounting for education, race, occupation, qualification and years of work experience.
Similarly, transgender people typically receive lower pay. While it is estimated that those transitioning from female-to-male actually receive a slight increase in income, male-to-female transgender people experience significant pay cuts, according to a report in The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy.
“I have a master’s degree. I should be fairly comfortable,” Kandler said. “I just wanted to be happy and comfortable. I didn’t have to be rich. I’ve never achieved that. I’ve never even gotten too comfortable.”
Those that are fortunate enough to keep their jobs are still at a disadvantage, as they face discrimination and harassment from their coworkers.
The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey revealed that 15 percent of transgender individuals had a job in the past year where they were verbally harassed or even physically attacked or sexually assaulted because of their gender identity or expression. Additionally, 23 percent of transgender people reported experiencing different forms of mistreatment for those same reasons.
“We don’t ask for this. This is biological. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, would ask for this. Why would I, as the top of the heap white, male, Protestant— why would I throw that away?” Kandler said. “My marriage, my career, 90 percent of my friends, any chance of ever really making money again, just to wear a dress? No. Nobody would do that.”
By Coraline Pettine