AMHERST, MA - November 11, 2011 On November 20, The Lives of Transgender People, a new book detailing the experiences of thousands of transgender Americans, will be released by Columbia University Press. The book, by Genny Beemyn and Sue Rankin, is based on a survey of nearly 3,500 self-identified transgender individuals and follow-up interviews with more than 400 of the participants, making it one of the largest studies involving transgender people in the United States. The book's release coincides with the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, an event held every November 20 to recognize individuals who have been murdered in the previous year because of their gender identity or expression.
Beemyn and Rankin consider how transgender people experienced their gender identities growing up and how they came to see themselves as transgender. "One of the findings that surprised us was the wide variety of ways that people identified," states Beemyn, the director of Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a transgender person hirself ( a pronoun used by Beemyn to reflect a gender identity that does not fit into conventional male or female gender categories ) . Noted Beemyn: "When asked to describe their gender identities, the participants provided more than a hundred different responses." Rather than defining a monolithic transgender identity, The Lives of Transgender People documents a transgender spectrum of a broad range of identities, including androgynous, gender-nonconforming, genderqueer, transfeminine, transmasculine, and transgender identities.
Given the lack of research on the lives of and climate for transgender people in the United States today, The Lives of Transgender People breaks new ground by examining the participants' concerns for their physical safety, their fear of being outed as transgender people, and their experiences with employment discrimination and harassment. Beemyn and Rankin find that despite greater societal recognition of transgender people and a growing transgender rights movement, individuals who are or who are perceived as transgender commonly continue to face discrimination, harassment, and bias-motivated violence.
Said Rankin: "The climate for transgender people is less than welcoming. Our results parallel the findings of other recent studies indicating that transgender youth in particular are at great risk for gender bias."
To address these inequalities, Beemyn and Rankin call for policymakers to take action. Said Beemyn: "The widespread adoption of transgender-inclusive workplace nondiscrimination policies and practices would provide a crucial foundation for transgender people as a whole to lead healthier, more dignified, and more economically secure lives."