The estimated 5.1 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender women in the United States face profound economic disparities "not just because of their gender, but also because of who they are and whom they love," finds a new study by Center for American Progress and Movement Advancement Project.
"Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT Women in America" investigates a host of inequalities and challenges that plague this subset of the population, from lower wages to limited health care access to lack of family recognition.
"This report aims to show how LGBT women are at increased risk of poverty and economic insecurity both because they are LGBT but also because they are women," Ineke Mushovic, executive director of Colorado-based Movement Advancement Project, told Common Dreams. "LGBT women of color, LGBT women raising kids, transgender women and older LGBT women are at particular risk."
Women of color experience these disparities at an even higher rate.
According to the report, African American and Latina women in same-sex couples are two to three times more likely than their white counterparts to live in poverty.
The report, in addition, finds that 15 percent of female same-sex couples with children live in poverty—a rate 5.7 percent higher than their childless counterparts.
Furthermore, transgender women are 3.8 times more likely to live in poverty than the general U.S. population. When it comes to black transgender women, this number is dramatically higher—at 44 percent.
The findings come on the heels of a separate analysis by Brandeis University and the public policy organization Demos, which finds that unjust public policies, including the re-segregation of education and the redlining of home ownership, drive the deep racial wealth gap—across all genders and sexual orientations—in the United States.
According to Mushovic, these disparities among LGBT women are fueled by the fact that "LGBT women struggle to find and keep good jobs and not only face discrimination because they are LGBT, but also face the gender wage gap, which means women in same-sex couples have higher rates of poverty."
Next, Mushovic explained, "LGBT women have increased struggle accessing the health care they need because they face provider and insurance discrimination, or, like all women, are inadequately covered for pregnancy and family planning."
"Finally, LGBT women with families face higher costs, not only, for example because they might be banned from marriage in their state and then denied spousal benefits like Social Security, but also because of challenges faced by all women like pregnancy discrimination and lack of paid, job protected leave or affordable childcare," she added.
The report concludes, "Addressing the ways in which LGBT women are forced to pay an unfair price simply requires that LGBT women, their families, and women in general, be treated equally. These are steps we have to take now—before more women and their families have to pay an unfair price."