Impacts of Discrimination on Transgender and Gender Nonbinary Health and Mental Health, and Documented Local Disparities in Suicide and Violence Victimization Rates
Local Findings from Cambridge Health Alliance Data
Our recent preliminary findings from a pilot research project at the Health Equity Research Lab using Cambridge Health Alliance Electronic Medical Record Data have shown that our transgender and gender nonbinary patients have:
- 10 times higher rates of medically documented suicidal ideation (18%) compared to other CHA patients (1.8%)
- 4 times higher rate of suicide attempt (6.2% vs. 1.5%)
- 3 times higher rate of being a victim of violence (5.6% vs. 1.8%)
- 26% of transgender/nonbinary patients who experienced violence victimization also had medically documented suicidal ideation
State-wide Discrimination Data
Local disparities echo national and state surveys showing that higher discrimination for transgender/nonbinary people leads to steep barriers to physical and mental wellness. A Massachusetts survey showed that in areas of public spaces and services (see Proposal 3 below), 58% of transgender survey responders were verbally harassed or disrespected, and 22% were discriminated against by government officials or agencies (National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 2016: Massachusetts Results). For people identifying as trans/nonbinary, reducing discrimination and stigma is critical to enabling wellness and improving access to mental health services.
November’s Discrimination Protections Ballot Measure in Massachusetts
In July 2016, the Massachusetts House and Senate passed a law which added gender identity to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in places of public accommodation. As explained on the website for MA Secretary of State, that law had already prohibited discrimination on the grounds of “race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, disability, and ancestry.” On November 6, 2018, voters in Massachusetts will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot measure (Proposal #3) which asks voters to consider whether to overturn that state law approved in 2016. This is the nation’s first state-wide referendum on transgender discrimination or transgender rights more broadly. Data on discrimination and its impacts for individuals identifying as transgender or gender nonbinary are sparse but existing and emerging data points to large health disparities for this population, often as a direct result of discrimination. We therefore outline above the policy-relevant state survey results as well as results from a local project at Cambridge Health Alliance.
Voting Options in November for Proposal 3
- A YES vote on Proposal 3 elects to keep gender identity as grounds for protection for discrimination in public spaces.
- A NO vote on Proposal 3 elects to overturned the existing law (in other words, to remove gender identity as grounds for protection from discrimination).