updated 05-11-2016


Discrimination is defined as unfair treatment because of an individual’s membership in a particular group.

Transgender Discrimination

From the 2009 National Transgender Discrimination Survey – Key Findings by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

  • Double the rate of unemployment: Survey respondents experience unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole.
  • Near universal harassment on the job: Ninety-seven percent (97%) of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment on the job.
  • Significant losses of jobs and careers: Forty-seven percent (47%) had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion.
  • High rates of poverty: Fifteen percent (15%) of transgender people in our sample lived on $10,000 per year or less — double the rate of the general population.
  • Significant housing instability: Nineteen percent (19%) of our sample have been or are homeless, 11% have faced eviction, and 26% were forced to seek temporary space.

Public Accommodations Discrimination in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts findings from the 2009 National Transgender Discrimination Survey by by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

  • 58% transgender adults were verbally harassed in a place of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports, and government agencies
  • 22% transgender adults were denied equal treatment by a government agency or official
  • 24% of transgender adults who have interacted with police reported harassment by officers
  • 50% of transgender adults reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance when needed

Hate Crimes statistics from 2002-2006 found that transgender victims of hate crimes comprised over 6.3% of the total number of anti-LGBT hate crime victims — a number completely disproportionate to their actual population.

A 2006 Greater Boston area survey found that fewer than 25% of transgender women were employed full-time, only 20% held part-time employment, and 55% had been homeless at some point. Transgender people in Massachusetts have reported losing their jobs, being harassed by landlords, feeling unsafe in their own schools, and even being turned away from local emergency rooms.

Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Protections in Massachusetts

In November of 2011, Massachusetts became the 16th state to add non-discrimination laws for gender identity in the areas of employment, housing, K-12 public education, and credit. Additionally, Massachusetts Hate Crimes laws were also updated to include gender identity. This law is known as An Act Relative to Gender Identity.

The Definition of Gender Identity

“Gender identity” shall mean a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.

Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person’s core identity; provided however, gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.

This new legislation did not extend protections in public accommodations. MTPC is part of the Freedom Massachusetts campaign, which is lobbying to close the gap in transgender non-discrimination laws during the spring 2016 legislative session.

If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination in employment, housing, a homeless shelter, a hospital, a school, at a bank, by a government or state agency, the police, a retail establishment, a restaurant, a hotel, while voting, or you have been the victim of a hate crime because of your gender identity or gender expression, there are resources to assist you. See MTPC’s Discrimination Resources page for more information on how to file discrimination complaints.