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Jay Wu, Communications Manager
November 16, 2017

Transgender Native Americans’ Experiences Revealed in New Report

Today, in partnership with co-authors Trudie Jackson and Mattee Jim, the National Center for Transgender Equality released a detailed report about the specific experiences of transgender American Indians and Alaska Natives in many areas of life. The report, which is being released to coincide with Native American Heritage Month, builds upon NCTE’s groundbreaking 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey—the largest ever survey of transgender people in the nation, with nearly 28,000 respondents.

Findings from the full USTS report revealed the disturbing patterns of discrimination and mistreatment that transgender people in the survey faced. These experiences were amplified for transgender people of color, including transgender American Indians and Alaska Natives, who faced deeper and broader forms of mistreatment in many of the most basic elements of life. The new report reveals troubling disparities and patterns of discrimination:

  • One in four (23 percent) American Indian and Alaska Native respondents was unemployed.
    • This rate was nearly five times higher than the unemployment rate in the U.S. population overall (5 percent) and nearly twice the rate among American Indian and Alaska Native people in the U.S. population (12 percent).
  • 92 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native respondents experienced mistreatment in a K-12 school because people knew they were or perceived them to be transgender.
    • This was higher than the rate among all USTS respondents, which was over three-quarters (77 percent).
  • Nearly half (46 percent) of American Indian and Alaska Native respondents experienced serious psychological distress in the month before completing the survey.
    • This rate was higher than that in the USTS sample overall (39 percent) and nearly seven times higher than the rate among American Indian and Alaska Native people in the U.S. population (7 percent).

“Transgender people, their families, and policymakers have been using the data from the full report of the U.S. Transgender Survey since it was released. Far from just being a set of numbers, these statistics tell us the specific needs of transgender people all over the nation,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “With this new report in hand, advocates will be able to target their efforts towards the specific needs of transgender American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

“American Indian/Alaska Native Transgender communities continue to encounter all forms of stigma and discrimination in urban and tribal areas,” said co-author Trudie Jackson. “The purpose of this report is to raise awareness and education to address issues/concerns that are often overlooked by providers serving the AI/AN Transgender community. We hope that more Tribal Nations leadership and councils view the report to address policy changes that would reflect inclusion, equality, and diversity in the delivery of services rendered in Tribal Nations.”

“The value of this report is to bring awareness to our Native communities that Native transgender-identified people are being mistreated and discriminated against,” said co-author Mattee Jim. It shows evidence of why we need services that work with our trans sisters and brothers. The numbers are alarming and it saddens me to know we still see injustices at every level.”

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