Report

Food Insufficiency Among Transgender Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic

December 2021

Using data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey collected between June and October 2021, researchers examined experiences of food insufficiency among transgender and cisgender adults. Food insufficiency is defined as sometimes or often not having enough to eat in the last seven days.

Highlights
Transgender people were three times more likely than cisgender people to face food insufficiency during the pandemic.
Transgender people of color and those living below the FPL were particularly affected by food insufficiency.
Transgender people were almost twice as likely as cisgender people to face barriers accessing food beyond affordability.
Data Points
25%
of transgender adults experienced food insufficiency
8%
of cisgender adults did
31%
of transgender adults were living at or below the FPL
36%
of transgender people of color experienced food insufficiency
13%
of cisgender people of color did
31%
of transgender adults who met the income requirement for SNAP eligibility were enrolled
39%
of cisgender adults were enrolled in the program
Report

Overview

Higher rates of food insecurity, inadequate or uncertain access to adequate food due to insufficient money or other resources,1 have been observed among LGBT as compared to non-LGBT people.2 However, little research has focused exclusively on food access for transgender people. This study aims to fill gaps in knowledge about current experiences of food insecurity among transgender people. More specifically, using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau on the Household Pulse Survey between July 21 to October 11, 2021, this study analyzes food insufficiency, defined as sometimes or often not having enough to eat in the last 7 days.3  In this study, food insufficiency was three times as common among transgender as cisgender people (25.3% vs. 8.3%).

Food insufficiency was much more common among some groups than others. Nearly six times as many transgender people of color as cisgender White people (35.8% vs 6.0%) experienced food insufficiency at some point during the summer or early fall of 2021. More transgender adults with a bachelor’s degree experienced food insufficiency than cisgender adults with a high school degree or less (22.1% vs 13.5%, respectively).

Pulse Survey data were further analyzed to provide information about current socioeconomic status, food resource utilization (e.g., SNAP, charitable food resources), and self-reported reasons for insufficient food among transgender adults (0.7%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.6, 0.8 of the analytic sample) and their cisgender counterparts. Only 30.7% of income-eligible transgender people were enrolled in SNAP. In addition, almost twice as many transgender people as cisgender people reported other barriers to accessing food, including that they could not get out to buy food (24.1% and 12.3%, respectively) and safety concerns (22.0% and 11.8%, respectively). Details about study methods, as well as tables, are included in the Appendix.

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Food Insufficiency Among Transgender Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic

USDA Economic Research Service. (2021). Food Security in the U.S.: Measurement: What is Food Insufficiency? https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/measurement/#insufficiency Accessed November 2021.

Brown, T.N.T., Romero, A.P., & Gates, G.J. (2016). Food Insecurity and SNAP Participation in the LGBT community. The Williams Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Food-Insecurity-SNAP-July-2016.pdf; Wilson, B.D.M. & Conron, K.J. (2020). National Rates of Food Insecurity among LGBT People: LGBT People and Covid-19. The Williams Institute, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; U.S. Census Bureau. (2021, August). LGBT Community Harder Hit by Economic Impact of Pandemic. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/08/lgbtcommunity-harder-hit-by-economic-impact-of-pandemic.html

USDA Economic Research Service. (2021). Food Security in the U.S.: Measurement: What is Food Insufficiency? https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/measurement/#insufficiency Accessed November 2021.