NEW REPORT — Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America

Stereotypes and pop culture portrayals often overlook the diversity of rural America, framing rural regions as made up predominantly of white, politically conservative people who are hostile to LGBT people. But millions of LGBT people, including transgender people, live in rural communities — and while some struggle, others thrive.  

Today, MAP released a new report, Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America, which includes original analysis of the unique challenges and opportunities for transgender people in rural America. As the third publication in the Where We Call Home series, this report details how the structural differences of rural life amplify acceptance of or discrimination against transgender people. 
 
Click here to read the USA TODAY exclusive about the report. 
 
This report, which includes original analysis of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), offers extensive new findings on transgender people in rural communities. Although experiences of discrimination are typically as common in rural areas as in urban areas, structural challenges in rural areas, such as fewer employment or healthcare options, means the impact of discrimination on the lives of rural transgender people may be particularly profound. 

As discussed in the report findings:  

  •  Roughly one in six (16%) transgender people live in rural areas—the same percentage of the non-transgender population which lives in rural areas—according to a recent analysis by the Williams Institute of nationally representative federally-funded data.  
  • Rural transgender people are more than two times more likely—and rural transgender people of color are nearly four times more likely—as the general rural population to be unemployed and living in poverty, despite being more likely than their rural neighbors to have a college degree.  
  • Rural transgender people travel remarkable distances to see their healthcare providers. Nine percent (9%) of all transgender people travel 75 miles or more to see their transgender-related healthcare provider, but in rural areas, 27% of transgender people and 33% of transgender people of color travel 75 miles or more.   
  • Rural transgender people are six times more likely (1.7%) and rural transgender people of color are 20 times more likely (6%) than the general U.S. population (0.3%) to be HIV+.   

Click here to view infographics pulled from Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America. 

Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America concludes with critical recommendations:  

  • Because transgender people in rural communities face significant obstacles to accessing and receiving care, improving access to transgender-inclusive health care that is both affordable and culturally competent is vital to adequately serving transgender patients.   
  • States and the federal government should rescind and block harmful religious exemption laws that may allow service providers and employers to legally discriminate against transgender people.   
  • State officials and lawmakers should adopt laws to ensure transgender and non-binary people can update their identity documents, including driver’s licenses and birth certificates, to match their name and gender identity.   
  • Passing and enforcing transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, as well as repealing discriminatory laws that disproportionately harm transgender people (e.g., HIV criminalization laws), will help to improve the quality of life for transgender people in rural America.   

The report is released in partnership with the Equality Federation, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights

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