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Transgender Adults Face Disproportionate Food Insufficiency

food insecurity

Almost half of the trans people in a new survey said they encountered issues paying standard household expenses such as food or rent.

A quarter of transgender adults in the U.S. face food insufficiency, three times the amount reported by cisgender adults.

In a study by the University of California, Los Angeles's Williams Institute, food insufficiency is defined as sometimes or often not having enough to eat within the past seven days. Researchers found that 25 percent of trans people experienced food insufficiency compared to only 8 percent of cis people, using data collected from July to October of last year in the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey.

Williams Institute researchers also found that almost six times as many trans people of color as white cis people experienced food insufficiency at some point in the summer and fall of 2021.

Additionally, for the 32 percent of trans adults living below the poverty line, food insecurity -- inadequate or uncertain access to adequate food due to a lack of money or other resources -- was also frequent.

Almost half of trans people said they encountered issues paying standard household expenses such as food or rent. Trans people also reported limited access to food due to safety concerns. They were also twice as likely as cis people to report barriers in accessing food -- one such barrier being able to get out to buy food.

Kerith J. Conron, the lead author of the study and research director of the Williams Institute, says that while the results are a "disturbing finding," the data are in line with already available information on rates of poverty among trans people.

Conron says it was helpful to access data collected by the Census Bureau about why people were experiencing food insufficiency.

"The number 1 answer for everybody, whether you're trans or cis, is just you don't have enough money to pay for food," Conron says. Learning that in many cases, lack of transportation, health or mobility issues, and safety concerns figured into the food insufficiency equation is helpful in creating strategies moving forward, she adds.

To tackle food insufficiency, says Conron, a full-court press of initiatives must be pursued: "Making sure that we are increasing access to jobs and reducing poverty is going to be the most significant way that we can reduce food insufficiency."

This story is part of The Advocate's 2022 Entertainment Issue, which is out on newsstands April 2, 2022. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News.

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