National Transgender Survey Could Be A Gamechanger

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By Zack Ford
August 19, 2015

August 19 marks the launch of the new U.S. Trans Survey, developed and supported by a coalition of LGBT groups and researchers, and over the next month, thousands of transgender people will complete the module, documenting their experiences in employment, housing, health care, and the criminal justice system. This will provide one of the most extensive glimpses into what it’s like to be transgender in the United States.

The new survey follows the success of the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), which was developed and conducted by the National LGBTQ Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) in 2008- 2009. Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE, explains that they hoped that the NTDS would have gotten 1,500 responses, but it actually got more than four times that — 6,400. The data from the NTDS has been cited countless times (Keisling estimates over 15,000 times in the media), particularly its findings about the rates of trans suicide attempts, homelessness, employment discrimination, and health care discrimination. It also provided some of the first insights about the rates at which transgender people have surgery as part of their transition.

Some 14,000 transgender people have pledged to take the new survey. Given estimates from the Williams Institute that there are about 700,000 transgender people in the country, this means 2 percent or more might complete the survey. If 2 percent of the entire U.S. population took a survey, that’d be over 6 million respondents. Organizers are hoping the increased size of the new survey will provide more insights about subgroups like seniors, people of color, immigrants, sex workers, and military service members and veterans, as well as allow for more state-specific analysis.

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