Make the Road New York investigated possible employment
discrimination against transgender job-seekers in Manhattans retail
sector using the research tool of matched pair testing. We sent out
carefully matched pairs of job applicants, one transgender and one not,
to apply for the same jobs. Each pair was equivalent in age and ethnicity
and equipped with fictionalized resumes that were evenly matched. Both
testing pairs underwent extensive training on how to adopt similar
interview styles and how to document their job-seeking interactions
objectively. Transgender testers were instructed to explicitly inform store
managers and interviewers of their transgender status whenever feasible.
Our research revealed an astonishingly high degree of employment
discrimination against our transgender job applicants:
- We found a 42% net rate of discrimination against
transgender job seekers. In eleven out of the 24 employers
tested, the transgender job applicant received no offer, but
the control group tester did. Only in one instance did a
transgender tester receive a job offer in our first round.
In 2009, we also conducted 82 surveys with transgender and
gender non-conforming individuals about their experiences in the job
market, not limited to the retail sector. These surveys corroborated the
pattern of discrimination documented by the matched pair testing.
- Of the 82 workers surveyed, 59% percent of transgender
workers reported experiencing job discrimination.
- 49% had never been offered a job living openly as a
Although New York City Human Rights Law explicitly prohibits
employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity,
discriminatory practices are still widespread. There is a clear need for
employers to adopt proactive policies and practices addressing
discrimination and for government agencies to improve enforcement and