What is it about?

This is the first study to directly compare labour market differences between transgender and non-transgender people in the US. Wages are found to be lower for transgender individuals and this group are also more likely to face unemployment, when compared with non-transgender labour market participants.

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Why is it important?

This is a very important research paper for both labour market discrimination studies and for Transgender studies. Prior to this paper being published, policy makers around the world had no indication of how transgender individuals were fairing in the labour market, both in terms of earnings and employment. Now, our research reveals that on average transgender persons are 11.7% less likely to be employed than equivalent non-transgender persons and that as much as 64% of the transgender employment gap may be due to discrimination. When in employment, transgender persons on average are 11% less likely to work for higher wages than non-transgender persons and that 43% of the wage gap may be due to discrimination. We also find that structural discrimination in healthcare, education and occupational opportunities, as well as individual work preferences may also contribute to the employment and wage gap, but this information is not readily available. Research in transgender labour market outcomes is often overlooked due to the lack of appropriate data, but it may be useful for appropriate public policy to reduce discrimination, improve individual life satisfaction and socioeconomic. Employment laws often do not consider transgender people specifically which means that they may experience negative labour market outcomes as a consequence. As structural discrimination is a major contributor to the lower labour market outcomes of transgender people it can be mitigated by passing laws that provide transgender people with equal protection in employment, housing, and education. Since transgender persons do not have to disclose their gender identity to employers, government officials or policy makers can work closely with employers to highlight some of the issues transgender persons may experience in the workplace and promote a work environment that is welcoming, inclusive and supportive. The findings of this unique research are the first step to understanding the extent to which transgender labour market outcomes differ to otherwise equivalent non-transgender persons. They provide important information for the society, policymakers and employers to make appropriate decisions to improve life-satisfaction, health, and labour market outcomes of transgender persons in a society.


Since the paper has been published it has been used for legislation in the UK parliament as part of the Reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Informing policy makers is what motivates us as labour market researchers and it is very rewarding to see our work being used for such an important piece of legislation.

Damien Cassells
Technological University Dublin

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Transgender labour market outcomes: Evidence from the United States, Gender Work and Organization, July 2020, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/gwao.12501.
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