Written by Andrew Cray
It isn’t a secret that Washington has been in a state of gridlock and discord, driven by both political grandstanding and deeply entrenched political ideologies. What may be more of a surprise is that members of Congress from polarized sides of the political spectrum agree with each other, and with the American public, on one thing: the importance of the American dream, and keeping that dream within reach of country’s workers. Sen. Marco Rubio described the American dream as “allow[ing] us all to succeed economically, achieve stability and security for [our families] and leave [our] children better off than [our]selves.” Nancy Pelosi said, “the American dream is about freedom. Jobs mean freedom for workers to support their families.”
But for transgender Americans, this basic bargain of hard work, fair judgment on the merits and the ability to advance in life is broken.
A new report, co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), dives deep into an analysis of this broken bargain for transgender workers and offers specific recommendations for businesses and policymakers to make the American dream a realistic vision for transgender workers.
The findings of the report may come as a shock to many readers – 9 out of 10 voters mistakenly believe that transgender workers are protected against employment discrimination under federal law. In reality, no federal law provides explicit legal protections for transgender workers based on their gender identity or expression. At the state level, only 17 states and the District of Columbia have transgender-inclusive employment nondiscrimination laws.
As a result, transgender workers face higher rates of unemployment and greater risk of poverty. A Broken Bargain for Transgender Workers, shows that:
The lack of legal protections for transgender employees also has a direct impact on the conditions they face in the workplace. Transgender people face the prospect of unequal benefits, harassment, job loss and even physical violence on the job. The report details research on the mistreatment of transgender workers:
This degree of egregious inequality is not what the American dream is about. Transgender workers deserve the same chance to achieve success as every other hardworking employee who dedicates themselves to public service, puts in extra hours at an office job or strains their body doing a hard day’s labor.
Not everyone has a transgender friend or loved one, but the values underlying the basic American bargain transcend personal relationships. This dream unites Americans regardless of age, race, gender identity and yes, even political party. The stories of transgender employees and research on workplace inequality cannot be ignored, and policymakers must take action to mend the broken bargain for transgender workers.
Andrew Cray is a Policy Analyst for LGBT Progress at the Center for American Progress
This story originally appeared in ThinkProgress
Photo credits: Thinkstock
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