Economic Opportunity

More than one in four transgender adults have lost at least one job due to bias, and more than three-fourths have experienced some form of workplace discrimination. Biased refusal to hire, privacy violations, harassment, and even physical and sexual violence on the job are common occurrences, and experienced at even higher rates by transgender people of color. Many report changing jobs to avoid discrimination or the risk of discrimination. Extreme levels of unemployment and poverty lead many to become involved in underground economies—such as sex and drug work—in order to survive.

While 16 states, nearly 150 local jurisdictions, and hundreds of employers have adopted laws and policies to prohibit this discrimination, more than half the nation still lives without these critical protections. And while transgender people face unemployment at even higher rates than the rest of the U.S. workforce, they can also face discrimination in the public jobs programs meant to connect them with jobs.

In recent years, courts and federal agencies have increasingly taken the view that discrimination against transgender people is prohibited by existing laws against sex discrimination. This updated understanding of sex discrimination laws has the potential to be a powerful tool to combat employment bias, and NCTE has and will continue to work to more firmly establish this understanding of the law and the critical protection it can provide. Ultimately, however, passing a federal law to prohibit gender identity discrimination in the most specific terms is essential to ensuring that employers understand and consistently follow the law, and therefore to eliminating anti-trans discrimination.

Policy Steps

  • Congress should pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination in employment based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • The President should issue an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) should investigate and mediate complaints from transgender people based on sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Each federal agency should issue a policy directive stating that it will ensure that federal employees will not be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity and that transgender discrimination claims will be processed according to Title VII procedures.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) should issue guidance clarifying that employers must provide all workers with full access to sanitary facilities consistent with their gender identity.
  • The Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and other agencies should adopt uniform policies providing for the classification of transgender law enforcement and security officers on the basis of their gender identity for purposes of gender-specific job duties.
  • The Office of Personnel Management should ensure that Federal Employees Health Benefits plans provide coverage for medically necessary transition-related care for federal employees and their partners and dependents.
  • The Department of Labor should adopt clear national guidelines to prohibit discrimination and ensure fair treatment for transgender people at all One-Stop Career Centers.
  • The Department of Labor should adopt clear national guidelines to prohibit discrimination and ensure fair treatment for transgender people in all Job Corps programs.
  • The Department of Labor should identify, promote and fund best practices for helping transgender people enter the workforce.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should revise its medical certification procedures to reflect current medical science and eliminate unnecessary obstacles for transgender pilots and others who need FAA medical certification for their jobs.

Related Links

Please see additional information under discrimination.


Take Action

Have you experienced discrimination? Tell us your story.

Get active to pass ENDA. Learn more

Hold a job fair in your area. Here's more information about how to do it.

Learn More

To find out more about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, please click here


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