Discrimination results in higher rates of unemployment and lower pay for transgender people

Transgender people are less likely to be employed, and they are more likely to receive lower wages compared to non-transgender people, according to new research from Trinity Business School and Technological University Dublin.

The researchers utilised a sample from the ‘Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System’ of 440,000 individuals in the United States to examine to what extent differences in important employment and wage related characteristics, such as education, family and health related productivity characteristics, explain the difference in employment gaps and wage gaps.

The research reveals that on average transgender persons are 11.7% less likely to be employed than equivalent non-transgender persons and that as much as 64% of the transgender employment gap may be due to discrimination. When in employment, transgender persons on average are 11% less likely to work for higher wages than non-transgender persons and that 43% of the wage gap may be due to discrimination.

“Many transgender persons not only experience mistreatment, harassment and abuse in their day-to-day lives but they may also experience negative labour market outcomes when compared to equivalent non-transgender persons. Our research also finds that structural discrimination in healthcare, education and occupational opportunities, as well as individual work preferences may also contribute to the employment and wage gap, but this information is not readily available. Research in transgender labour market outcomes is often overlooked due to the lack of appropriate data, but it may be useful for appropriate public policy to reduce discrimination, improve individual life satisfaction and socioeconomic outcomes”. says Dr. Klavs Ciprikis, Assistant Lecturer in Finance at Technological University Dublin.

“Employment laws often do not consider transgender people specifically which means that they may experience negative labour market outcomes as a consequence. As structural discrimination is a major contributor to the lower labour market outcomes of transgender people it can be mitigated by passing laws that provide transgender people with equal protection in employment, housing, and education. Since transgender persons do not have to disclose their gender identity to employers, government officials or policy makers can work closely with employers to highlight some of the issues transgender persons may experience in the workplace and promote a work environment that is welcoming, inclusive and supportive”.

“Although public’s awareness, understanding and acceptance of transgender people has increased over the years, stigma surrounding transgender people still remains. Transgender persons consistently report harassment, abuse and discrimination in the labour market due to their gender identity. However, the extent to which discrimination may affect employment and wage outcomes of transgender persons has not received much attention. Our study fills this gap in the literature and provides important public policy implications to be considered in the future” says Dr. Klavs Ciprikis.