Workplace discrimination for transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers highlighted in report

The New York City Anti-Violence Project based the first-of-its-kind report on 143 questions.

A new report by New York City Anti-Violence Project offers a glimpse into workplace life for transgender and gender non-conforming, or TGNC, people in the city.

The report, titled “Individual Struggles, Widespread Injustice," was released on Tuesday, and examined the extent to which TGNC people in the city “face discrimination and violence that negatively impact their abilities to thrive emotionally and socially.”

Seventy-seven percent of respondents reported that they were employed at some point since January 2016, and of those, 36 percent reported seeing offensive graffiti/pictures, and 33 percent received unwanted sexual comments in the workplace.

The authors reported that the most common experience of discrimination was being misgendered, being referred to by their birth name, or by wrong pronouns. The three instances are considered “unlawful gender-based harassment” under the New York City Commission on Human Rights Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination, which deals with gender identity or expression.

When it comes to socioeconomical status, TGNC people were more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree when compared to the average person in New York, but over half of the respondents have an income lower than $30,000 per year. The authors also looked at the intersection with race and found that TGNC people of color were 35 percent less likely to hold a bachelor’s degree than white TGNC people, and also had lower incomes.

Sixty-five percent of survey respondents were out to at least one person at their job. Out of those who were not out, 63 percent of respondents said they felt barriers stood in their way, and 56 percent said the main barrier was not fear of discrimination, but uncertainty of co-worker responses, anxiety and isolation.

Briana Silberberg, a white transgender person, was quoted in the report as saying she felt like her identity played a role in her layoff.

“It was like being trans eventually started counting as me not doing my job,” said Silberberg, “Their attitude was of annoyance at me for bringing up transphobic bullying in the workplace.”

New York City law not only requires employers to use an individual’s preferred name, pronouns and title, but also protects TGNC people against discrimination.

The report is the first of its kind, and was based on answers to 143 questions, collected from 118 transgender and gender non-conforming people that live, work in or were looking for work in New York City.  

Fernanda Nunes