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Largest survey of transgender people in the US reveals key insights at a time when trans rights are under attack

<i>Demetrius Freeman/Reuters</i><br/>The 2022 US Transgender Survey offers insights into the lives and experiences of transgender Americans.
Demetrius Freeman/Reuters
The 2022 US Transgender Survey offers insights into the lives and experiences of transgender Americans.

By Chandelis Duster, CNN

(CNN) — Results from the largest survey of transgender people in the United States were released Wednesday, revealing key insights into their lives and experiences at a time when trans rights have increasingly come under attack.

The 2022 US Transgender Survey Early Insights report, conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, polled an “unprecedented” 92,329 binary and nonbinary transgender people ages 16 and older living in the US, its territories or military bases, according to the report.

Respondents were surveyed on issues including their family life, health care, employment, education, housing and public accommodation. While many transgender people surveyed who have transitioned said they were satisfied with their lives, the report also noted transgender people continue to face disparities and discrimination across the country.

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director of NCTE, said there should be state and federal laws to ensure that everyone – including transgender people – is treated fairly.

“So often, transgender people are talked about, like we’re a political football, or mysterious,” he said. “Now, we finally have concrete facts, we actually have some data to show what being transgender in America is really like and that is essential because these attacks against our community are coming from misinformation and a lack of understanding of who we really are.”

Life after transitioning

The survey found the majority of people who transitioned genders said they were satisfied with their lives.

Ninety-four percent of respondents who lived at least some of the time in a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth reported being “a lot more satisfied” or “a little more satisfied” with their life, with 79% expressing the highest level of satisfaction, according to the report.

Only three percent of people surveyed indicated they were “a little less satisfied” (1%) or “a lot less satisfied” (2%), the report found.

What’s more, “nearly all” respondents who said they were receiving hormone treatment at the time of the survey – 98% – said receiving hormones for their gender identity/transition increased satisfaction with their life.

Eighty-four percent of respondents said they were “a lot more satisfied” while receiving hormone treatment and 14% of respondents said they were “a little more satisfied.” Less than 1% of people surveyed said receiving the hormones made them less satisfied with their lives.

Discrimination and mistreatment

The report’s findings come as multiple states have passed laws restricting or banning gender-affirming care. Forty percent of people surveyed said they considered moving because they experienced discrimination or unequal treatment where they were living, and 10% said they had already moved because of discrimination.

Respondents also reported moving from states like Florida, Virginia, Texas, and North Carolina because of laws targeting transgender people for unequal treatment.

More than a third (39%) of respondents said they were harassed online because of their gender expression or identity in the previous 12 months, and 30% reported being verbally harassed during the same time frame.

The report also revealed findings that suggest the ongoing culture war over transgender rights has impacted students.

Nearly 60% of respondents ages 16 to 17 who are out or perceived as transgender in grades K-12 said they experienced mistreatment or a negative experience, including“verbal harassment, physical attacks, online bullying, being denied the ability to dress according to their gender identity/expression, teachers or staff refusing to use chosen name or pronouns, or being denied the use of restrooms or locker rooms matching their gender identity.”

A majority of respondents of all ages, 62%, also said they were “very uncomfortable” or “somewhat uncomfortable” asking police for help when needed because of their gender expression or identity.

“This data is crucial to really show an accurate picture of transgender people’s experiences,” Heng-Lehtinen said.

“There are rising attacks against transgender people these days, both in terms of hostile policy, meaning anti-transgender bills moving through state legislatures, and in terms of physical attacks – people actually being hurt and even killed because they happen to be transgender.”

Health and safety

When asked about their health care experiences, nearly half of respondents, 48%, who had seen a provider in the past 12 months said they had at least one negative experience because they were transgender, according to the report.

Some of those experiences reported included, “being refused health care, being misgendered, having a provider use harsh or abusive language when treating them, or having a provider be physically rough or abusive when treating them.”

Nearly a quarter of respondents said they avoided seeing a doctor in the previous year when they needed to out of fear of mistreatment, while 28% said they did not go to the doctor during that timeframe because of cost.

The report also found that the unemployment rate among respondents was nearly five times the national average –18%.

The 2022 US Trans Survey is a follow up to the 2015 US Trans Survey, which included more than 27,700 respondents across the US, its territories and its military bases. The 2022 survey was conducted online in Spanish and English by the NCTE in conjunction with the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and TransLatin@ Coalition.

Participants were surveyed from October 19 through December 5, 2022, and the majority of respondents – 84,170 – were ages 18 and older.

CNN’s Scottie Andrew and Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.

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