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7 things you need to know about the transgender population in the U.S.

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

Why the first large-scale survey of transgender people is so important

Earlier this week, the National Center for Transgender Equality released the largest survey of transgender individuals ever conducted in the United States, and many of the findings are stark.

An estimated 1.4 million adults in the United States identify as transgender — doubling estimates from a decade ago. Studies like this one are important because increasing visibility could lead to changing policies and attitudes more supportive of the transgender population.

More: Gender identity 101: A guide to understanding transgender issues

While so much of the focus on transgender issues in the media has been on bathroom use, this survey highlights challenges faced by an already marginalized population.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Almost half of transgender people have been sexually assaulted

Transgender individuals experience disproportionately higher levels of mistreatment and violence, including 54 percent experiencing verbal harassment in schools, 10 percent reporting violence toward them from an immediate family member and 47 percent being sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.

2. The attempted suicide rate among transgender individuals is nine times higher than the general population

The discrimination and stigma the transgender population faces has a serious impact on their mental health, with 39 percent of respondents saying that they had experienced serious psychological distress in the month prior to completing the survey, compared to 5 percent of the American public. Also, 40 percent of participants reported that they had attempted suicide in their lifetime — nearly nine times the national rate (4.6 percent).

More: A transgender dad tells us what it's like to show up at La Leche League

3. Identity documents are a big problem

Only 11 percent of survey participants said that all their forms of identification had their preferred name and gender, with 68 percent reporting that none of their IDs contained the correct information.

4. Rates of HIV are five times higher than the U.S. population

Transgender women of color reported a higher rate of HIV (3.4 percent) than the rest of the survey participants (1.4 percent) compared to only 0.3 percent for the rest of the country. The differences are especially pronounced among black transgender women, 19 percent of whom live with HIV.

More: My 5-year-old's friend is transgender and he's doing just fine, thanks

5. Transgender people are more than twice as likely to live in poverty

Almost one-third (29 percent) of participants reported that they were living in poverty, more than twice the rate of the rest of the American population (14 percent). Along the same lines, the unemployment rate among respondents (15 percent) was three times higher than the national rate (5 percent).

6. Things aren’t easy for those who can find a job

More than three-quarters (77 percent) of participants reported that they have actively tried to prevent mistreatment at work, including hiding or delaying their gender transition or quitting their job. Another 30 percent said that they had been fired, denied a promotion or had experienced another form of mistreatment.

7. Almost one-third have been homeless at some point in their lifetime

Access to housing impacts many transgender individuals, with 30 percent of participants responding that they have been homeless at some point, and 26 percent of those who experienced it in the past year avoided staying in a shelter because they feared mistreatment based on their identity.

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