Report: Discrimination, Harassment Harms Transgender Health

By Parker Marie Molloy

Originally published on Advocate.com July 28 2014 9:09 AM ET

Sixty-five percent of respondents to a study of transgender Massachusettsans say they had experienced some form of discrimination in a public accommodations setting within the last year.

Those reporting discrimination cited public transportation, retail businesses, restaurants, public gathering spaces, and health care facilities as places at which they most frequently experience discrimination, accordining to the the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and The Fenway Institute.

Startlingly, the report also finds that discrimination in public accommodations actually has a negative impact on an individual's health, stating that those who have faced discrimination during the past year were at an 84 percent increased risk of adverse physical symptoms and 99 percent more likely to have endured emotional symptoms during the past month, compared to those who did not report discrimination. Additionally, 29 percent of respondents reported having to teach their health care provider about trans health issues, and 28 percent reported not seeing a doctor over the course of the past year.

The report, titled Project VOICE, was put together by interviewing 452 trans people across the state, and asking them questions related to public accommodations and health.

In 2011, Massachusetts passed H3810, An Act Relative to Gender Identity. Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on November 23, 2011, and it went into effect the following July. The law, which provides protections against housing and employment discrimination, did not include public accommodations protections. As a result, much of the discrimination discussed in the Project VOICE report was completely legal.

The report's creators highlight the existence of S643, an act that would implement the public accommodations protections left out of the 2011 bill. This bill, however, appears stalled in the state legislature.