LGBT Poverty in the United States

By M.V. Lee Badgett, Soon Kyu Choi, Bianca D.M. Wilson

One in five (21.6%) LGBT people in the U.S. experience poverty, compared to 15.7% of cisgender straight people. As a whole, LGBT people have at least 15% higher odds of being poor than cisgender straight people. However, poverty rates differ by sexual orientation and gender identity, race and geography:

  • Cisgender straight men (13.4%) and gay men (12.1%) have similar rates of poverty and their poverty rates are lower than every other group.
  • Cisgender lesbian women (17.9%) have similar rates of poverty as cisgender straight women (17.8%). However, women of all sexual orientations have significantly higher rates of poverty than cisgender straight men and gay men.
  • Nearly one in three (29.4%) transgender people and cisgender bisexual women fall below the official poverty threshold.
  • LGBT people of most races and ethnicities show higher rates of poverty than their cisgender straight counterparts.
  • One in five (21%) LGBT people in urban areas live in poverty, and one in four (26.1%) in rural areas are poor, compared to about 16% of cisgender straight people in both areas.

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