Society and Culture

Survey: Transgender Americans Fear Public Restrooms

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You’re out holiday shopping with a friend and suddenly the Chestnut Praline Latte you ill-advisedly chugged hits…what do you do? For most people it’s simple–you find a public restroom–but in the case of 60 percent of transgender Americans, the choice is often to avoid public bathrooms altogether.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, released Thursday, nearly 60 percent of transgender Americans have avoided using public bathrooms in the last year because they were afraid of being confronted, harassed, or assaulted.

The anonymous online survey was comprised of the responses from a total of 27,715 transgender adults–approximately 2 percent of the U.S.’s estimated transgender population— making it the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the United States.

The nonprofit National Center for Transgender Equality also found:

  • 12 percent of respondents reported being verbally abused in a public bathroom in the past year.
  • 1 percent said they had been physically assaulted in a bathroom in 2015.
  • 32 percent said they limited how much they ate or drank so that they wouldn’t have to use a public restroom.
  • 8 percent reported having contracted a urinary tract infection or kidney infection as a result of avoiding bathroom use.

These results coincide with legal battles between LGBT activists and conservative lawmakers over bathroom battlegrounds.

In March, North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill” (House Bill 2) made it mandatory for transgender individuals to use a bathroom according to the sex they were assigned at birth rather than their gender identity. Advocates claimed the law was necessary to protect women from “predators” and children from “untraditional values.”

As a result, the Justice Department filed a complaint against the state of North Carolina to stop the discrimination against transgender people.

But the data extended beyond just bathrooms. Respondents’ answers also showed that transgender people are more than twice as likely as the general public to live in poverty, and three times more likely to be unemployed (and four times more likely to be unemployed if they are a person of color).

Nearly nine out of ten (86 percent) reported being harassed, attacked, sexually assaulted, or mistreated in some other way by police. And 40 percent attempted suicide in their lifetime, nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6 percent)

According to the survey’s summary:

The findings reveal disturbing patterns of mistreatment and discrimination and startling disparities between transgender people in the survey and the U.S. population when it comes to the most basic elements of life, such as finding a job, having a place to live, accessing medical care, and enjoying the support of family and community

You can find the complete survey results here.

Alexis Evans
Alexis Evans is an Assistant Editor at Law Street and a Buckeye State native. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a minor in Business from Ohio University. Contact Alexis at



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