Transgender Men and Women in the Workplace: Higher Gender Pay Inequality and Discrimination

On a recent car trip, I found myself captivated by an interview with Lily Zheng author of “Gender Ambiguity in the Workplace:  Transgender and Gender Diverse Discrimination.”  In writing her book, Zheng and her co-author Alison Fogarty analyzed the relationship between gender identity and workplace performance.   In this process, they analyzed the research of gender in the workplace and also interviewed 25 gender diverse individuals who agreed to share their insights and experiences.  In writing this book it’s their hope “that someday trans people and trans communities can secure economic well-being-and the political, social, religious, and cultural liberation that must accompany it.”

For most of us, our careers are the source of our economic well-being.  Research tells us that gender is very heavily tied how we’re treated in our respective workplaces, which in turn can help or hurt our financial security.  We all know that there’s a gender pay gap, but how does that impact someone in transition or who is transgender? 

More than half of Zheng and Fogarty’s respondents experienced discrimination during the hiring process.  It ranged from having job offers rescinded to inappropriate comments, and all-around lead to less job offers received.  Many of these highly qualified people found themselves lowering their standards when searching for jobs. Those who were underemployed and even those who had jobs, felt the looming fear of unemployment hanging over their heads.  This is a valid concern since The National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 US Transgender Survey found that the unemployment rate was 15% for transgender individuals.  At that time, this rate was three times higher than the US unemployment rate of 5%. 

Those individuals who transitioned while employed found themselves not only experiencing transgender discrimination, but they also saw changes to how they were treated in the workplace.  Transwomen found themselves devalued while transmen felt a newly gained sense of privilege (Connell 2009).  In addition to the loss of authority, some transwomen also experienced a loss of pay (Schilt and Wiswall).  So, in the end, transwomen found themselves experiencing two layers of discrimination both for being transgender and for being a woman.  Higher levels of discrimination in the workplace, in turn, lead to higher levels of financial insecurity. 

At Merino Wealth, our mission is simple “Empowering you to reach your possibilities.”  It will take time to rid the world of the types of discrimination that lead pay gaps and diminished financial opportunities, but there are two things that we can all do with our money today to reach this possibility:  

#1.  We can support companies with policies that are supportive of the transgender community.  Whether you’re purchasing goods or investing your retirement plan, every dollar counts.

#2.  Take a look at your financial plan and your level of financial security.  Are you living paycheck to paycheck, or are you sitting on a large emergency fund living a debt free life?  Whether you’re an ally or in transition yourself, your finances are a tool to provide you with options.  The more secure you are, the more options it’ll give you to help yourself or others to reach their financial possibilities.  

You can learn more about our financial planning philosophy here!

The views expressed today are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my broker/dealer, The Investment Center, Inc. or my Registered Investment Advisor, IC Advisory Services, Inc.

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