A new report published by the Equal Rights Center takes a closer look at the discrimination transgender women face in retail stores. The pilot project was conducted in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Utilizing ‘secret shoppers’, or ‘testers’, the study compared the experiences of transgender women and cisgender women. Some of these tester pairs were African American and some of the pairs were White. This made it possible to also see differences on treatment based on race.
The results will not be suprising to anyone who is familiar with the experiences of Transgender Women.
In 75% of the tests conducted, the transgender tester experienced at least one type of adverse differential treatment and service. The adverse differential treatment included differences in the quality, quantity, and content of the service provided to the testers.
African American transgender testers faced higher rates of verbal harassment and other forms of negative interactions than their white peers. In the jurisdictions with nondiscrimination protectiosn (DC, MD) the white transgender tester experienced significantly less negative interactions (19%) than the African American transgender tester (81%). In the jurisdiction lacking nondiscrimination protections (VA) the African American transgender tester experienced a negative interaction in 57% of the tests, while the white transgender testers experiences negative interactions in 43% of the tests.
This study is a sobering reminder that legislation is needed at the federal level to prohibit public accomodation discriminationcbased on gender identity and expression. Still, passing a law is a beginning, not an end. As this study shows us this kind of discrimination continues even in a place like the District of Columbia, which has strong laws supporting the Transgender community. Legislation has to be coupled with active enforcement of the law. It is also crucial that retail employees are educated about the rights of their transgender community. Further, it is crucial that transgender and gender variant indivduals themselves understand their rights and how to report discrimination when it happens.
Read the entire report here to learn more: