Trans(form) is a month-long series on MarieClaire.com that explores the challenges, surprises, and victories of transitioning today. See the full collection here.
The life of a transgender person—in the U.S. and around the world—can be vastly challenging and rife with discrimination. But it can also be joyful, triumphant, and transformative—not just for the individual, but for those who love and accept them.
Thanks to the likes of Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, the numbers of Americans who fall into that last camp are growing. But we still have a long way to go on the awareness front.
Here, a look at the landscape of being transgender today. These numbers and statistics give you only a glimpse into the community—this is territory that research, science, and society are only on the cusp of breaching. But at least we've started.
According to 2011 findings from the Williams Institute, the transgender population represents about 0.3% of American adults.
In 1965, the country's first gender identity clinic opened at Johns Hopkins University, and a year later, the first reassignment surgery was completed in the U.S.
By no means is this an "average" figure. For a female transitioning to a male, one Philadelphia clinic estimates this price for phalloplasty, scrotoplasty, testicular implants, glansplasty, and transposition of the clitoris. And when you combine that with the cost of anesthesia and post-surgery hospital rest, the number soars. It's estimated that reassignment procedures can cost between $5,000 and $50,000—some can be as pricey as $100,000.
In 2012, the Human Rights Campaign found that out of 636 companies analyzed, 207 provided healthcare coverage to transgender employees. It's not enough, but considering only 49 corporations delivered these services in 2009, it's a step in the right direction.
Disheartening research from the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey reveals that 41% of transgender participants (2,644 out of 6,450) had attempted, at some point, to take their own lives. Sexual assault was the biggest cause, followed by physical assault, harassment in school, and job loss due to bias.
On this day, Laverne Cox made history. For her role as Sophia Burset in Orange Is the New Black, Cox became the first transgender person ever to be nominated for an Emmy Award.
A 2014 report from the Williams Institute estimates that there are over 15,000 transgender individuals serving on active duty and there are over 134,300 transgender veterans. According to their data, 32% were assigned male at birth and 5.5% were born female.
Violence against transgender people often occurs at the hands of strangers—but also frequently happens at home. In a massive joint report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, released in 2011, 19% of respondents said they had suffered domestic abuse because of their gender non-conformity. Interestingly, male-to-females are more likely to experience family violence than female-to-males are.
The District of Columbia has laws in place, too, but for 32 states, transgender individuals can still be fired or denied employment for their identity. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, discrimination is prohibited in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. We're hoping the rest of the states catch up quickly.
In April, ABC aired Diane Sawyer's intimate first interview with Caitlyn Jenner. It was a Friday night, a typical day of TGIF rituals like happy-hour outings—but for nearly 17 million people, it was more important to watch Jenner open up about her real self for the first time ever. It was four times the average audience for the show.
Another 50% admit that they've been harassed in the workplace, based on this National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report.
On the bright side, the same survey found that despite mistreatment, those who could afford to change genders felt more at ease in the office.