Visibility MattersResults from a new national survey commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, reveal a significant uptick in the number of Americans who say they personally know or work with someone who is transgender, and a corresponding increase in favorable feelings toward transgender people.

The data, collected for HRC by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, shows that 22 percent of likely voters surveyed reported that they personally know or work with a transgender person, up from 17 percent who said they did in a similar poll last year. And knowing a transgender person translates powerfully into positive impressions: 66 percent of those who said they know a transgender person expressed favorable feelings toward them, compared with 13 percent who did not -- a net favorability of 53 percentage points.

“This is powerful testimony to what we in the LGBT community have always known - that the more people who know us, and become familiar with our personal stories, the more supportive they are of inclusion and equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This data tells us that the dramatic increase in the visibility of transgender people in our workplaces, our homes, and in our popular culture has helped propel this growing support of transgender Americans.”

This positive trend of understanding is perhaps reflected most dramatically in the corporate world, where HRC Foundation’s work with Fortune 500 companies through the annual Corporate Equality Index has resulted in two-thirds now offering explicit gender identity non-discrimination protections, and 34 percent offering transgender-inclusive health care benefits.

But even with those gains, many transgender people still face enormous difficulties and disparities in income, health and safety.

  • More than 70 percent of victims of LGBTQ or HIV-motivated hate violence homicides in 2013 were transgender women, and 67 percent were transgender women of color, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs;
  • At least seven transgender women have been murdered this year in the U.S.; 13 were reported killed last year, all but one were women of color;
  • 15 percent of transgender people in the U.S. live in extreme poverty, earning less than $10,000 a year, compared with 4 percent of the nation’s overall population living in similar straits;
  • There is no training accreditation for transgender medical services or a certification in transgender medicine, leading to a lack of competent care, and few doctors who provide transition-related surgery -- most geographic areas have none;
  • In an HRC survey of 10,000 LGBT youth, less than half of those identifying as transgender said they had an adult in the family they could turn to if worried or sad, and only 27 percent reported that their families were very accepting.

“As we celebrate the growing visibility and acceptance of transgender friends, family members and colleagues, we must acknowledge the real risks for transgender people in living authentically. It’s imperative that we continue to call for policies that protect people based on their gender identity, and continue our work to ensure that everyone gets a fair shot in our schools, our workplaces, and our communities,” Griffin said.

More information on transgender Americans and HRC’s work on transgender equality and inclusion can be found online at Our media guide to covering transgender people and transitioning can be found here.

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