More Than Two-Thirds of Residents in Every State Support Transgender-Inclusive Employment Protections

For Immediate Distribution
Dec. 16, 2015

Contact:
Lauren Jow, jow@law.ucla.edu, 310-206-0314

LOS ANGELES — A majority of people in every state supports protecting transgender people from employment discrimination even though not every state has such laws, according to a new study by researchers at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law published in Research and Politics.

The study, titled “Transgender Inclusion in State Non-Discrimination Policies: The Democratic Deficit and Political Powerlessness,” examines whether state laws reflect public support for laws that protect transgender people from employment discrimination. The researchers found that states are slow to pass such laws despite a clear consensus.

Previous studies find that transgender people face disproportionate amounts of workplace discrimination. Passing statewide non-discrimination laws may be one way to reduce these rates.

Key findings from the report include:

• More than two-thirds of residents in every state support transgender-inclusive employment non-discrimination laws. Percentages range from 68 percent in Oklahoma to 87 percent in Maryland. Nationally, more than three-fourths of Americans currently support such laws.

• Even with this high level of support, most states have not passed transgender-inclusive non-discrimination laws.On average, 81 percent of residents need to support such a law before it is likely to be passed, the study predicts.

• However, three states are at or above that level of support and do not have transgender-inclusive laws (New York, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire).

• Ten states are within 5 percentage points (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin).

• Such laws are more likely to pass when Democrats are the majority in state legislatures.

“The attitudes people hold about minorities greatly affect the policy discussions relating to minority rights,” said Andrew R. Flores, Public Opinion and Policy Fellow at the Williams Institute. “But a disconnect between public opinion and policy may suggest that some minorities are politically disadvantaged in the lawmaking process.

The study was authored by Flores; Jody L. Herman, scholar of public policy; and Christy Mallory, senior counsel and Anna M. Curren Fellow at the Williams Institute.

Click here for the full report.