Olympic Champion’s Appearance Comes as HRC Poll Shows That 66 Percent of Americans Who Know a Transgender Person Support Equality
WASHINGTON - Tonight, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, expressed optimism that Bruce Jenner’s forthright conversation about being a transgender woman will encourage increased support and inclusion for others.
During a televised interview Friday night with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Jenner, once the world’s most celebrated athlete, asked Sawyer to use male pronouns and to call him Bruce. Jenner said he will soon begin to use female pronouns.
“Tonight, Jenner showed the same fearlessness she showed the world as an Olympic athlete nearly four decades ago. In sharing her journey, she made visible the challenges so many of us face in coming out as transgender,” said HRC’s Jay Brown, Director of Research and Public Education. “While every story is different, hers will certainly inspire countless other transgender people to take their own first, fearless steps.”
“It’s also important to highlight the ways in which Jenner is set apart from the larger transgender community, which she herself alluded to, where the road to living an authentic life is filled with costly, often insurmountable obstacles and where visibility comes with real risk,” Brown added. “Many transgender people, especially transgender women of color, still face enormous difficulties and disparities in income, health and safety. We’ve seen incredible progress in the last several years but there is so much more work to do.”
Jenner is speaking out at a time when more and more Americans know transgender people, and support them. A recent national HRC survey revealed that 22 percent of likely voters personally know or work with someone who is transgender, and, of that group, two-thirds expressed favorable feelings toward them. That’s up from 17 percent who said they knew a transgender person just a year ago, and 8 percent in 2013.
The data provides powerful empirical evidence that the increase in the visibility of transgender people in our workplaces, our homes, in our popular culture -- including Jenner and the Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox and New York Times bestselling writer Janet Mock -- has helped propel this growing support.
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 healthcare benefits.
But even with those gains, many transgender people still face challenges. In 2015, at least 7 transgender women of color have been murdered and 8 young transgender people have died by suicide. HIV continues to disproportionately affect transgender women. And unemployment, discrimination in healthcare, violence and homelessness are major concerns for the community.
More information about the lives of transgender people in the U.S., including the challenges they continue to face, can be found athttp://www.hrc.org/topics/transgender. And a new HRC resource, Understanding the Transgender Community, can be found athttp://www.hrc.org/resources/entry/understanding-the-transgender-community.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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