Danger in Michigan

Analysis of the 2015 US Transgender Survey has revealed that Michigan is not such a good place for transgender people to live. That survey was the largest ever conducted that concerned transgender people, drawing 27715 respondents, 894 of whom were Michigan residents.

Seventy-nine percent of transgender Michigan residents reported being mistreated (verbal harassment, physical assault, or sexual assault) between kindergarten and 12th grade.

These are not individual problems. This is a statewide problem.

--Stephanie White, Equality Michigan

White and other transgender and human rights advocates, including a representative from the ACLU of Michigan, met in Lansing to make the survey's results public and help create a path forward for statewide reforms. White described transgendered people as "by far the most vulnerable and victimized segment of our state."

Other analysis:

81% said none of their personal identification had the name and gender they preferred.
61% avoided using a public restroom in the past year because they were afraid of confrontations or other problems they might experience.
55% said they would feel uncomfortable asking the police for help if they needed it.
38% who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender. The negative experiences ranged from refusal of treatment to sexual assault.
36% limited the amount they ate or drank to avoid using the restroom.
35% who experienced homelessness in the past year avoided staying in a shelter because they feared being mistreated.
34% experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
30% were living in poverty.
27% who held or applied for a job in 2015 reported being fired, denied a promotion or not being hired for a job they applied for due to gender identity or expression.
26% experienced housing discrimination in the past year, including eviction or denial of a home or apartment.

Michigan's Elliott-larsen Civil Rights Act(1976) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, family status and marital status, but does not protect LGBT people.

Human rights ordinances have been crafted and passed in cities around the state, but there is little public education about the challenges transgender people face.

Even the vast majority of people are going to look at that and say 'That's just not OK. That's not OK that kids are being mistreated simply for being who they are.'" I'm really hoping that people look at this (survey) and go 'Wow! I never understood. I never realized.

--Nicole Ellefson, mother of transgender son

The poverty rate for transgender people in Michigan is more than double the national poverty rate for all people. 43% of transgender people in Michigan reported serious psychological distress, compared to 5% of the U.S. population. [No, that's not because being transgender itself is a psychological disorder, but rather a result of a culture of mistreatment that must constantly be faced.] Sixteen percent of Michigan's transgender population owns a home, compared to a nationwide rate of 63%.

None of these numbers shocks me.

--Bre Campbell, advocate

Campbell says she has been assaulted too many times to count, has been denied jobs and lost jobs and been evicted because of her gender. All with no recourse.

I just wish that society wasn’t so complicit in the violence and destruction of the transgender community. There’s a false narrative in society that “transgender people are harmful.'

We’re really just trying to live and survive. I want to have a family. I want to be loved. I want to be successful.

--Campbell

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