Pride Month for LGBT individuals is coming to a close and during this brief time of remembrance and praise, inequities within the LGBT community have been brought to prominence. More specifically, transgenders are not receiving the same level of media attention in comparison to lesbian, gay, or bisexual members of the community.
Sadly, 29 states can legally fire an employee based on their sexuality. South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Alaska are some of the states that do not protect homosexuals from being fired based on their sexuality. Most states abide by Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of color, race, religion, sex, or national origin. However, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not include discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity, which reveals the demographic change within our society.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a bill that will prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on their sexual identity or orientation. ENDA is extremely important for the LGBT community because it specifically provides protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in the workplace. Similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ENDA would put an end to discrimination in the workplace. Consequently, LGBT people in the workplace are not federally protected by law. Presently, there has been a push for Congress to implement ENDA, even though it was originally introduced to Congress in the early 1990s.
Based on an infographic provided by the Huffington Post, many Americans ignorantly (90%) believe that there is a federal law to protect transgender persons. Only 16 states protect transgender individuals, moreover, transgendered Americans were included in the ENDA bill until it was removed before the 2007 House vote. So what does that mean for transgender Americans? 90% of transgender Americans reported harassment in the workplace and 40% are unemployed. Paul Taylor, Executive Vice President for the Pew Research Center, stated in a PBS interview that although Americans are growing more accepting, discrimination still persists:
We had, as you said, 90 percent, 93 percent saying society is more accepting now than it was 10 years ago. And then we said about, what 10 years from now? And another 92 percent, 93 percent said it will be more accepting. We take a lot of surveys. We rarely see numbers in the 90s.
You ask people, does your mother love you? Maybe you will get in the 90s. So, this is a nearly universally held belief. It’s an understanding that there has been an extraordinary amount of change in societal attitudes. So that is the good news story.
I said earlier today the LGBT population is living in the best of times, but they are not easy times, and there is another side to the story.
The National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted a report on the discrimination of transgender Americans and the report unveils that 41% of survey participants considered suicide and a staggering 64% of respondents became victims of sexual assault. Surprisingly, many participants (74%) felt comfortable after transitioning from one gender to another even though levels of discrimination increased.
ENDA is the only way to provide full legal protection for LGBT persons and as society attempts to move forward, the passing of ENDA will put an end to workplace discrimination for transgendered Americans, considering the laws that constrain transgenders appear to be more strenuous than lesbian, gay, or bisexual exclusion laws.
“Injustice at Every Turn”, the report conducted by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, is available online.