Gender Identity: The challenges faced by gender-diverse individuals in the United States

 

 

What are the challenges being faced by gender-diverse individuals in the United States?

Around 390 Americans in every 100,000 or one in every 250 individuals are gender diverse (Merjwijk & Sevelius, 2017).  Surveys conducted by the American Journal of Public Health AJPH (2017), propose that the number of gender-diverse individuals continues to grow. According to an article by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (2022), the term gender-diverse refers to individuals whose gender identity and expressions are contrary to gender norms within society. This chosen identity is often reinforced when the individual modifies his/her appearance or function through surgery and other expressions such as dressing, mannerisms, and speech. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, 2017) states “gender-diverse individuals are more vulnerable and likely to experience increased social isolation, stigma, and discrimination in the United States”. One study by Grant et al. (2011) found that such individuals were four times more likely to live in extreme poverty. Poverty arises as gender-diverse individuals struggle to get a job due to discrimination and are bullied in schools which leads to dropouts. Grant et al., (2011) also posit that they face sexual and physical assault and that more than half of the sample lost their jobs due to intolerance by their employers or coworkers. Observably, the choice to change their identity does not come without consequences as society views these individuals as going against societal, religious, and biological norms. As such, fundamental constitutional rights of gender-diverse individuals in the United States are often infringed on and are evidenced by their legal challenges, discrimination, and long-term psychological effects. Gender-diverse individuals in the United States have faced challenges of being legally excluded in some states, discriminated against, and emotionally traumatized.

Gender-diverse individuals are legally excluded in some states as they face obstacles regarding housing, the use of public spaces, and custody of their children. Gender-diverse individuals face challenges from landlords who are often unwilling to rent their properties to them (National LGBTQ Task Force, 2014). The actions of landlords are in breach of the Federal Fair Housing Act. Furthermore, eighteen states in the country do not enforce this law which shows the inadequacy of the legal system in the United States (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2014). Additionally, gender-diverse individuals do not have the right to equal access to restrooms in public spaces due to the implications in the legal system. The case of Gavin Grimm depicts this narrative as the individual was not given the legal right to use the bathroom of their preferred choice which indicates that there are gaps in the legal system that does not take into consideration the rights of gender diversity (American Civil Liberties Union, 2022). Transgender parents face challenges in their right to custody as natural parents because of the legal system issues in some states in the United States. There are cases where some judges and adoption agencies try to remove children from their homes in custody battles if an ex-partner questions the transgender parent’s suitability in court (Lambda Legal, n.d.). Gender-diverse individuals continue to face discrimination due to the lack of legal enforcement which indicates the gaps in the legal systems for gender-diverse individuals in the United States.

Gender-diverse individuals face discrimination in their workplaces, schools, and healthcare facilities in the United States.  Gender discrimination occurs in the workplace as some companies have taken the decision not to hire or promote someone who identify as gender-diverse, excluding them from benefits, verbal abuse, and sexual harassment. According to transequality.org “More than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias, and more than three-fourths have experienced some form of workplace discrimination. Refusal to hire, privacy violations, harassment, and even physical and sexual violence on the job are common occurrences and are experienced at even higher rates by transgender people of color. Many people report changing jobs to avoid discrimination or the risk of discrimination. Extreme levels of unemployment and poverty lead one in eight to become involved in underground economies—such as sex and drug work—in order to survive.” Gender-diverse employees are at a disadvantage and barred from jobs due to prejudice against them. This occurs through the process of recruiting, training, issuing staff benefits, and accessibility to promotions and transfers (OHCHR, 2022). Furthermore, due to a lack of proper training and support of healthcare professionals, particularly in nursing, the health requirements for patients who are diverse-genders are not appropriately served in many healthcare institutions (Kuzma et al., 2019). From the reading, one can determine that trans-gender individuals are being deprived of the level of healthcare that is being provided to the cisgender members of society in the United States.

Finally, Gender-diverse individuals often have to seek professional counseling as they require help to process the psychological traumas that they experience in the process of self-identity and transitioning. In addition, transgender individuals experience microaggressions because they identify as a different gender than they were assigned at birth; these microaggressions prohibit them from being able to completely live up to their skills and enjoying fundamental rights from a young age. There is a high likelihood of long-term psychological effects on gender-diverse individuals in the United States because “transgender youth frequently experience stigma, prejudice, discrimination, bullying, and victimization” (Grossman et al., 2011). One can deduce that some members of the transgender community in the United States, given the level of discrimination, abuse, and trauma faced, would ultimately demonstrate long-term side effects of their traumas and require psychological assistance.

It can be concluded that the treatment of gender-diverse individuals in the United States requires urgent attention from the government and other members of society at large. Based on the prevalence of such individuals in the country and the severity of the circumstances in which they face, their legal rights, ability to gain and retain employment, treatment in educational and health facilities, and options for housing are greatly constrained. As a result, their standard of living, holistic health, and lifestyles will continue to be greatly impacted.

 EDITED VERSION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gender Identity: The Challenges Faced by Gender-Diverse Individuals in the United States

 

Introduction

Initially, the term ‘gender’ was conventionally used to denote a person’s birth-assigned sex. In recent times, however, the idea of ‘gender’ being an expression of personal identity has gained increased acceptance in the modern society. Gender diversity is the diversion of a person’s gender identity from the traditional gender binary model framework of existing solely as either man or woman (Reddy & Jadhav, 2019), and is not necessarily an outcome or consequence of different gender expressions. An individual whose gender identity corresponds to their birth-assigned sex is said to be ‘cisgender’. When gender identity differs from the birth-assigned sex, the individual is said to be ‘transgender’.

Gender diverse individuals notably face significant challenges that may be somewhat oblivious to the non-gender diverse persons. This paper will discuss the challenges faced by gender diverse individuals living in the United States as well as how these constraints impact their quality of life.

An approximated 390 Americans in every 100,000 or one in every 250 individuals are gender diverse (Meerwijk & Sevelius, 2017).  This number is expected to increase with time, according to surveys conducted by the American Journal of Public Health AJPH (2017). According to an article by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (2022), gender identity and expressions that are contrary to the gender norms within society (the gender binary of existing solely as either a man or a woman) are often reinforced when the individual modifies his/her appearance or function through surgery and other expressions such as dressing, mannerisms, and speech.

Fundamental constitutional rights of gender-diverse individuals in the United States are often infringed on and are evidenced by their legal challenges, discrimination, and long-term psychological effects. Gender-diverse individuals in the United States have faced challenges of being legally excluded in some states, discriminated against, and emotionally traumatized.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, 2017) states that “gender-diverse individuals are more vulnerable and likely to experience increased social isolation, stigma, and discrimination in the United States”. One study by Grant et al. (2011) found that such individuals were four times more likely to live in extreme poverty. Poverty arises as gender-diverse individuals struggle to get a job due to discrimination and are bullied in schools, which leads to dropouts. Grant et al., (2011) also posit that they face sexual and physical assault and that more than half of the sample lost their jobs due to intolerance by their employers or coworkers.

Gender diverse individuals in the United States face societal obstacles that in one way or another impair their living a fulfilled life. This can be observably attributed to the fact that society views these individuals as going against societal, religious, and biological norms, which may solicit different forms of treatment from the larger community.

Gender diverse individuals are more prone to discrimination and unfair treatment due to prevailing prejudice and uninformed judgment from some members of the society (Rosenthal, 2021). Gender-diverse individuals face discrimination in their workplaces, schools, and healthcare facilities in the United States. Some companies have taken the decision not to hire or promote someone who identify as gender-diverse, excluding them from benefits, verbal abuse, and sexual harassment. Refusal to hire, privacy violations, harassment, and even physical and sexual violence on the job are common occurrences and are experienced at even higher rates by transgender people of color (Rosenthal, 2021). Many people report changing jobs to avoid discrimination or the risk of discrimination.

Higher levels of unemployment and poverty are also common among people of diverse gender identities (OHCHR, 2022).  Gender-diverse employees are at a disadvantage and barred from jobs due to prejudice against them, causing the higher prevalence of unemployment among the population. This occurs through the process of recruiting, training, issuing staff benefits, and accessibility to promotions and transfers (OHCHR, 2022).

In addition, due to inadequate proper training and support of healthcare professionals, particularly in nursing, the health requirements for patients who are diverse-genders are not appropriately served in many healthcare institutions (Kuzma et al., 2019). From this evidence, it is notably clear that trans-gender individuals are being deprived of the level of healthcare that is being provided to the cisgender members of society in the United States.

The absence of appropriate facilities for gender diverse communities is also another issue of concern. Gender-diverse individuals do not have the right to equal access to restrooms in public spaces due to the implications in the legal system. The case of Gavin Grimm depicts this narrative as the individual was not given the legal right to use the bathroom of their preferred choice which indicates that there are gaps in the legal system that does not take into consideration the rights of gender diversity (American Civil Liberties Union, 2022).

Legal custodian conflicts are another challenge for gender diverse persons. Transgender parents face challenges in their right to custody as natural parents because of the legal system issues in some states in the United States. There are cases where some judges and adoption agencies try to remove children from their homes in custody battles if an ex-partner questions the transgender parent’s suitability in court (Lambda Legal, n.d.). Gender-diverse individuals continue to face discrimination due to the lack of legal enforcement which indicates the gaps in the legal systems for gender-diverse individuals in the United States.

Lastly, all these challenges yield mental, emotional, social, and psychological stress in gender diverse communities. There is a high likelihood of long-term psychological effects on gender-diverse individuals in the United States because “transgender youth frequently experience stigma, prejudice, discrimination, bullying, and victimization” (Grossman et al., 2011).  A lack of social engagement and inclusion can breed feelings of isolation and social withdrawals among these individuals. Mental stress can fuel issues related to mental health and psychological wellness, all of which impact the quality of an individual’s life.

To conclude, the treatment of gender-diverse individuals in the United States requires urgent attention from the government and other members of society at large. Based on the prevalence of such individuals in the country and the severity of the circumstances in which they face, their legal rights, ability to gain and retain employment, treatment in educational and health facilities, and options for housing are greatly constrained. As a result, their standard of living, holistic health, and lifestyles will continue to be greatly impacted, as well as their overall quality of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

American Civil Liberties Union. (2022). Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://www.aclu.org/cases/grimm-v-gloucester-county-school-board

Grant, J. M., Mottet, L. A., & Tanis, J. (2011). Executive summary injustice at every turnJ. Retrieved July 17, 2022, from https://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/resources/NTDS_Exec_Summary.pdf

Grossman, A. H., D’augelli, A. R., & Frank, J. A. (2011). Aspects of psychological resilience among transgender youth. Journal of LGBT Youth, 8(2), 103–115. https://doi.org/10.1080/19361653.2011.541347

IACHR. (2017). Oas :: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Retrieved July 17, 2022, from https://www.oas.org/en/iachr

Kuzma, E. K., Pardee, M., & Darling-Fisher, C. S. (2019). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health: Creating safe spaces and caring for patients with cultural humility. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 31(3), 167-174.

Lambda Legal. (n.d.). Transgender parents. Lambda Legal. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://www.lambdalegal.org/know-your-rights/article/trans-parents

Meerwijk, E. L., & Sevelius, J. M. (2017, February). Transgender population size in the United States: A meta-regression of population-based probability samples. American Journal of Public Health. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5227947/

 

OHCHR. (2022). The struggle of trans and gender-diverse persons. OHCHR. Retrieved July 18, 2022, from https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/ie-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity/struggle-trans-and-gender-diverse-persons

Reddy, S., & Jadhav, A. M. (2019). Gender diversity in boardrooms – a literature review. Cogent Economics & Finance, 7(1), 1644703. https://doi.org/10.1080/23322039.2019.1644703

Rosenthal, S. M. (2021). Challenges in the care of transgender and gender-diverse youth: an endocrinologist’s view. Nature Reviews Endocrinology17(10), 581-591.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

American Civil Liberties Union. (2022). Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board. https://www.aclu.org/cases/grimm-v-gloucester-county-school-board

Grant, J. M., Mottet, L. A., & Tanis, J. (2011). Injustice at Every Turn A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. https://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/resources/NTDS_Exec_Summary.pdf.

Grossman, A. H., D’augelli, A. R., & Frank, J. A. (2011). Aspects of psychological resilience among transgender youth. Journal of LGBT Youth, 8(2), 103–115. https://doi.org/10.1080/19361653.2011.541347

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (2017). Report on Poverty and Human Rights in the Americas. Organization of American States. https://www.oas.org/en/iachr/reports/pdfs/poverty-humanrights2017.pdf

Kuzma, E. K., Pardee, M., & Darling-Fisher, C. S. (2019). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health: Creating safe spaces and caring for patients with cultural humility. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 31(3), 167-174.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (2022). The struggle of trans and gender-diverse persons. https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/ie-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity/struggle-trans-and-gender-diverse-persons.

National LGBTQ Task Force. (2014). State nondiscrimination laws in the US. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. http://www.thetaskforce.org/static_html/downloads/reports/issue_maps/non_discrimination_5_14_new.pdf

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2014b). Ending housing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and their families: Enriching our nation. http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/LGBT_Housing_Discrimination.

Lambda Legal. (n.d.). Transgender Parents. https://www.lambdalegal.org/know-your-rights/article/trans-parent

National Center for Transgender Equality. (n.d.). Employment.

https://transequality.org/issues/employment

 

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