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National survey shows transgender people in Michigan struggle with homelessness and unemployment

May 24, 2017

The largest national survey on transgender people in America shows a need for policy change in Michigan. That’s what a few transgender rights groups say.

Nearly 900 people in Michigan responded to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey and 22% said they faced mistreatment in the workplace due to their gender identity or expression, while 17% said they had been fired before due to being transgender. 

Over a third of the respondents have been homeless at some point in their life, while only 14% of the country's population was homeless at the time of the survey. 

The largest number of respondents to share one experience was the 81% who said none of their IDs had the gender they preferred listed. Second was the 79% who said they faced mistreatment in their K-12 schools.

Stephanie White, executive director of Equality Michigan, believes there need to be laws protecting transgender people from discrimination.

“It sends a strong signal to all the businesses, to housing establishments that this won’t be tolerated in our state,” White said.

Over a third of the respondents have been homeless at some point in their life

Bre Campbell is executive director of Trans Sistas of Color Project Detroit, a grassroots organization that provides assistance to transgender women in the city.

Campbell says mistreatment of transgender people allows policymakers to ignore their needs.

“If we continue to allow people to believe this behavior is OK, then trans women of color will never have a safe space in any place in the country,” Campbell said.

Seventeen states currently have some legal protections for transgender people, but Michigan is not one of them.

"If we continue to allow people to believe this behavior is ok, then trans women of color will never have a safe space in any place in the country." - Bre Campbell

However, White thinks there is opportunity for that to change.

“If the state could amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexually orientation, gender and gender identity to be things that can’t be discriminated against, it would go a long way in helping our effort,” White said.

To read more about the Michigan numbers gathered from the survey and other findings, go to TransEquality.org.