The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Silence Within a Community: Prevalence of Discrimination Among the T in the Lgbtq Community

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 4:00 PM
Marriott Riverwalk, Alamo Ballroom Salon E, 2nd Floor Elevator Level BR (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Darren Whitfield, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Denver, CO
N. Eugene Walls, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Songmin Kim, MEd, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Denver, CO
Lisa Langenderfer, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Denver, CO

Purpose: Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community experience higher rates of discrimination based on sexual orientation compared to their heterosexual counterparts (Herek, 2009). The present study examines the difference in experiences of discrimination for cisgender LGBQ and transgender individuals. Authors present data on the disproportionate prevalence and daily frequency of discrimination within the LGBTQ community.

Methods: Using the 2010 Colorado LGBTQ community needs assessment survey (N=4,619) and the 2011 One Colorado health survey (N=1,193), collected by One Colorado, a statewide advocacy organization, researchers compared the rates of discrimination between cisgender and transgender individuals. The data was collected using online surveys, available in English and Spanish, advertised to potential participants via One Colorado's email list, partner organizations’ member lists, and Facebook. Participants were asked to identify places they have experienced discrimination and the frequency of the discrimination. Data analyses included descriptive statistics and Chi square test of independence to determine the difference in prevalence and frequency of cisgender and transgender experiences of discrimination.

Results: The data indicates that while a majority of LGBTQ individuals report being victims of discrimination, transgender individuals experienced greater levels of discrimination than cisgender LGBQ persons.  In the health survey, there was a statistically significant relationship between being transgender and being denied housing, X2 (1, N=51) = 20.38, p < .001, being transgender and being discriminated at work X2 (1, N=400) = 32.81, p < .001, and being transgender and being a victim of discrimination by law enforcement X2  (1, N=154)= 29.63, p < .001.

The needs assessment found higher frequency of daily discrimination for transgender individuals compared to cisgender participants across different social settings.  Analysis of the needs assessment survey data found that there was a statistically significant relationship between being transgender and the daily frequency of discrimination at work X2 (1, N = 131) = 9.96, p = .002, daily frequency of discrimination at home X2  (1, N = 93) = 5.03, p =. 025, daily frequency of discrimination in public establishments X2  (1, N=72) = 33.69, p < .001, and daily frequency of discrimination on the streets X2  (1, N= 102)= 32.68, p < .001.

Implications: Because anti-LGBTQ harassment and victimization is associated with numerous negative psychosocial outcomes (McLaughlin, Hatzenbuehler, Xuan, & Conron, 2012), it is critically important that social workers fight transphobia and the unique contributions of transphobia to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. These findings provide social work scholarship with a deeper understanding of the issues that impact the LGBTQ community.


Herek, G. M. (2009). Hate crimes and stigma-related experiences among sexual minority adults in the United States: Prevalence estimates from a national probability sample. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24, 54-74.

McLaughlin, K. A., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Xuan, Z., & Conron, K. J. (2012). Disproportionate exposure to early-life adversity and sexual orientation disparities in psychiatric morbidity. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36, 645-655.