1 in 5 LGBTQ Americans lives in poverty


By  Meera Jagannathan

LOS ANGELES–About one in five LGBTQ people in America (21.6%) lives in poverty, compared to an estimated 15.7% poverty rate among their cisgender straight counterparts, according to new research from the Williams Institute, a UCLA Law think tank that researches sexual orientation, gender identity and public policy, and campaigns against discrimination faced by LGBTQ people. (“Cisgender” refers to people whose gender identity matches their birth-assigned sex.)

“Being LGBT increases the risk of poverty overall, and for bisexual and transgender people, in particular,” the study’s authors wrote. But not everyone in the LGBTQ community experiences the same hardships, found the study, which analyzed data from the government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.

For starters, transgender people’s poverty rate (29.4%) towers over other groups. To put that in context: Both lesbian and straight cisgender women (17.9% and 17.8%, respectively) are more likely to live in poverty than gay and straight cisgender men (12.1% and 13.4%, respectively). The national poverty rate was 11.8% in 2018.

The study’s co-author Bianca D.M. Wilson, noted that age, ethnicity and sexual orientation and gender identity, are “all social statuses and characteristics that are known to be independently related to poverty rates.” On the flip side, some groups of LGBTQ people fair better, Wilson added. Gay men, for instance, tend to have fewer children, higher educational attainment and residences in urban areas.

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