Food Insufficiency Among Transgender Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 2022

Using data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, 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.

Transgender people were almost 2.5 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
of transgender adults experienced food insufficiency
of cisgender adults did
of transgender adults were living at or below the FPL
of transgender people of color experienced food insufficiency
of White cisgender people did
of transgender adults who met the income requirement for SNAP eligibility were enrolled
of cisgender adults were enrolled in the program


Higher rates of food insecurity have been observed among LGBT as compared to non-LGBT people. However little research has focused exclusively on food access for transgender people. This study aims to fill this gap and provides information about current experiences of food insufficiency—defined as sometimes or often not having enough to eat in the last 7 days—in a nationally representative household sample of transgender and cisgender people. Using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau on the Household Pulse Survey, this study found that food insufficiency was almost two and a half times as common among transgender as cisgender people (19.9% vs. 8.3%). 

Food insufficiency was much more common among some groups than others. Nearly five times as many transgender people of color as White cisgender people (28.2% vs 6.0%) experienced food insufficiency at some point during the summer or early fall of 2021. Far more transgender adults with a bachelor’s degree or more experienced food insufficiency than cisgender adults with the same educational attainment (15.7% vs 2.4%, respectively). 

Household 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 and their cisgender counterparts. Only 28.7% of income-eligible transgender people were enrolled in SNAP as compared to 38.5% of income-eligible cisgender peers. In addition, over twice as many transgender people as cisgender people reported other barriers to accessing food, including that they could not get out to buy food (27.7% and 12.3%, 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