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Passage of Employment Non-Discrimination Act is Critical

The state of the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — transgender Americans in particular
is 'absolutely shameful'

(Washington)— The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund submitted testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor that spotlights the critical need for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"For decades, a majority has supported protecting their friends, family and neighbors from discrimination. They know it's wrong to deprive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of the ability to earn a livelihood and provide for their families simply because of who they are," says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "ENDA reflects the core U.S. values of fairness and ensuring everyone is allowed to participate on a level playing field in the workplace. People recognize that our nation as a whole benefits when everyone is allowed to contribute their talents and skills, free from discrimination, which is all ENDA seeks to do."

Task Force testimony includes preliminary data from a forthcoming and groundbreaking survey on discrimination against transgender people in the United States. Data from this large-scale, first-of-its-kind survey show that discrimination in employment against transgender people is a nearly universal experience: 97 percent of the respondents reported being mistreated or harassed at work, and nearly half (47 percent) said they had lost their jobs, were denied a promotion, or denied a job as a direct result of being transgender. The Task Force is partnering with the National Center for Transgender Equality on the survey.

"These figures point to enormous vulnerability related to anti-transgender bias," says Carey. "Federal protections in employment are a lynchpin for creating economically viable lives for transgender people. Our data show a potent path that is cut to victimization, housing insecurity and poor health due to loss of a job, or by harassment and bias that force a perfectly productive employee onto the unemployment rolls."

A 2007 meta-analysis from the Williams Institute of 50 studies of workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people found consistent evidence of bias in the workplace. The analysis found that up to 68 percent of LGBT people reported experiencing employment discrimination, and up to 17 percent said they had been fired or denied employment.

"The bottom line: The state of the workplace for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — transgender Americans in particular — is absolutely shameful," says Carey. "Passing and enacting ENDA will go a long way in rectifying that."