Check it out! Access Denied: Washington, DC Trans Needs Assessment Report

Today we’re excited to release the results of the largest local-level survey of transgender, transsexual, and gender non-Access Denied Coverconforming people ever conducted in the United States in its new study Access Denied: Washington, DC Trans Needs Assessment Report. Based upon over four years of research and analysis, Access Denied offers a statistical portrait of the challenges faced by trans people in the District of Columbia. The report includes data on all aspects of life, including income, education, health, housing, experiences of violence, interactions with the legal system, access to identity documents, and the role of LGBT organizations in trans lives.

“This report is unique in the way academics and community activists worked together to shape research that members of trans communities in DC felt was needed. Our approach was designed to empower everyone who participated in the process,” said Elijah Adiv Edelman, PhD, principal investigator for the needs assessment, which took five years to complete.

“Trans people in DC have been sharing their experiences for years, and are always asked ‘where’s your data?’ Well now we have the data, and it paints a grim picture. Political leaders in DC no longer have an excuse to ignore the needs of DC’s trans residents,” added Ruby Corado, co-investigator for the project, who was also a founder of the DC Trans Coalition and currently serves as executive director of Casa Ruby, the only trans-serving, trans-led service organization in the city.

Today’s survey findings, amounting to over 100 pages of data and analysis, are based upon the responses of over 500 survey participants who submitted responses either online or via in-person distribution. Approximately 59% of respondents were people of color, and 63% were trans women.

Key findings include:

  • Workplace harassment is commonplace across all groups, with 42 percent of those surveyed having been harassed on the job due to being perceived as transgender. Even among groups we would anticipate to have lower rates of harassment – trans masculine, white, or hold an associate degree or higher – were just as likely as those who where trans feminine, a person of color, or not hold an associate degree or higher to have been harassed at work due to being transgender
  • Education is little protection against unemployment for trans people. Among those whose highest level of education is high school, 57% were unemployed compared to 21% of the general population in DC.[1] High levels of unemployment persist even for those who have higher levels of education.  Of those who had an associate degree, 28% reported being unemployed compared to 12% of the general population in DC.[2]
  • Employment discrimination has forced many trans people into the grey economy, and 30% of those surveyed had engaged in sex work either in the past or currently. Of those who have been in sex work 41% stated it was their only source of income, 37% were currently homeless, and 43% were living with HIV.
  • Trans people seeking vital services are not safe. Of those who have gone to a shelter, 27% were denied access, and of those who had resided in a shelter 41% had been assaulted by residents or staff. LGB serving organizations also provide little safe haven, with 50% of those who had sought services experienced poor treatment during their visit.
  • 60% had considered suicide at some point in their lives, 34% had attempted suicide, and 10% had done so in the past 12 months due to the persistent structural violence faced by trans people in DC.

Elena Lumby, lead statistician for the project, said, “In our analysis, we devoted considerable attention to looking at the intersections of race, class, and gender to paint a more insightful picture of what is going on in DC. When we look within the data, we can see that even among groups we would expect to be more advantaged, they are not, as a direct result of their trans identity.”

Released at the John A. Wilson Building before members of the DC Council and staff from the administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser, Access Denied provides critical insights into both challenges and potential solutions. Each chapter includes recommendations for action. “We don’t want this report to just sit on a shelf. The needs assessment provides a clear path for making real change in the lives of trans people across DC,” Corado added.

Explore the findings:

Those looking to get involved with the DC Trans Coalition are encouraged to join us at an upcoming meeting! DCTC meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Casa Ruby.

[1] For Some DC Groups of DC Residents Unemployment Remains High in the Wake of the Recession. (2013, March 7). DC Fiscal Policy Institute. Available at:

[2] For Some DC Groups of DC Residents Unemployment Remains High in the Wake of the Recession. (2013, March 7). DC Fiscal Policy Institute. Available at:

This Friday! Launch of Access Denied: Washington, DC Trans Needs Assessment Report

We’re excited to announce the release of the largest local-level survey of transgender, transsexual, and gender non-conforming people ever conducted in the United States in its new study Access Denied: Washington, DC Trans Needs Assessment Report. The launch event will feature remarks by the principal researchers, leading DC activists, and community members whose life stories demonstrate the ongoing challenges trans people face in their daily lives.

WHAT: Report launch, overview of the findings, and voices from community members.Access Denied Cover

WHEN: Friday, November 13, 1:00 -2:00 p.m.

WHERE: John A. Wilson Building, Room 120, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

Elijah Adiv Edelman, PhD, Principal Investigator
Ruby Corado, Co-Investigator; Executive Director, Casa Ruby
Elena C. Lumby, Lead Statistician
Tanisha Montana, community member
Reevs O’Neal, community member
Patty Hernandez, community member
Nicky, community member

WHY: Based upon over four years of research and analysis, Access Denied offers a statistical portrait of the challenges faced by trans people in the District of Columbia. The report includes data on all aspects of life, including income, education, health, housing, experiences of violence, interactions with the legal system, access to identity documents, and the role of LGBT organizations in trans lives.

RSVP today on Facebook, and please share widely!

DCTC joins in LGBTQ Report Card on MPD

Today we join six colleague organizations in a new LGBTQ Report Card on the Status of Metropolitan Police Department Implementation of Recommendations from the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force and Community Response. A year ago, MPD released the findings of its independent Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force, along with the Department’s response. We issued our own joint response to those reports, and now we report on progress made thus far in what is expected to be a long and far-reaching process of transforming relationships between MPD and LGBTQ populations in DC.

The Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) and Affiliate Officer ProgramB_vagckVEAATyeP
Earlier this month, Sgt. Jessica Hawkins took over the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit on a full-time basis. She is the first openly trans person to hold this role, and we look forward to working with her. That said, we are concerned that GLLU officers are now regularly detailed to ordinary patrol duties throughout the city. This dramatically reduces the unit’s capacity to engage in proactive outreach and relationship building, especially among trans populations. The affiliate liaison officer program, aimed at expanding capacities for all MPD Special Liaison Units, will resume recruiting later this year, using a refined selection process and a new approach to training.

LGBTQ Cultural Competency Training
MPD has committed to training all its personnel on LGBTQ cultural competency in calendar year 2015, and we expect classes to begin soon. Though the training development process has not always been smooth, we appreciate the opportunity to work together to create a quality product for officers and sergeants, which will soon be adapted for detectives and lieutenants and above. Quality control will be important to monitor throughout the year, and we encourage MPD to use the results of a training post-test to follow up with individual officers who may not perform well in training. Though community voices are included via video in the current module, we continue to look for ways to include community members most impacted by violence and negative police interactions, especially trans women of color and youth, in the training program.

Interactions with Trans Communities
Last year’s reports noted an urgent need for MPD to build trust with members of trans communities. We appreciate Chief Cathy Lanier’s participation in Transgender Day of Remembrance last year, as well as a town hall discussion last summer. That said, GLLU’s diminished capacity in recent months has negatively impacted this relationship building effort. It is imperative that MPD officers at all levels be accessible to trans communities and be visible at trans-serving organizations. Undoing years of mistrust will take a long-term, concentrated, proactive effort to establish new relationships. The Chief cannot do this alone. Ultimately trans communities need to see a shift in interactions on the street and believe that their needs are taken seriously when they request police service.

Hate Crime Data Collection, Training, and Policy
Training on hate crime response is included in MPD’s overall training effort this year. We continue to receive reports of officers refusing to mark reports as possible hate crimes until a supervisor or GLLU is involved, so we need to see greater respect given towards those reporting hate violence to ensure that these cases are properly reported and investigated. We are also working with MPD to find ways to better track violence against trans populations.

Intimate Partner Violence Training, Response, and Reporting
Appropriate response to violence within LGBTQ relationships is included in this year’s training module. We continue to review whether or not policy changes are required, and are hopeful that we can begin to collect better data on these cases as well, while respecting the privacy of those involved.

Interactions with Sex Workers
Finally, we appreciate the Council’s quick work last year to repeal the unconstitutional and inherently biased Prostitution Free Zones. While we have engaged in initial conversations with MPD on changes its approach to sex work policing, more work remains to be done.

Share your story with police ON FILM! October 29 at Casa Ruby

Late this summer, Sgt. Matthew Mahl in the Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) requested volunteers from D.C.’s trans communities to record videos to be included in the department’s new trans training program. As a reminder, earlier this year the Anti-Defamation League released a report critical of MPD interactions with trans residents. One MPD response to this report was a commitment to overhaul their trans-related training and re-train all 4,000 MPD officers by the end of 2015.

It’s not possible to have community volunteers at every training session, but it is important that trans voices are a visible and prominent part of the training. MPD would like to record videos of D.C. trans residents sharing their personal experiences, particularly their experiences with MPD officers. Experiences can be positive or negative, and the goal is to help officers in the training to understand what it’s like to be trans in DC.

Join us on Wednesday, October 29, 3-7pm at Casa Ruby (2822 Georgia Ave NW) to share your story of interactions with police. We will have opportunities for individual interviews, as well as a group discussion beginning around 4pm. Please come and share your stories of police encounters: the good, the bad, and the horrifying. It’s important that we let police officers know exactly how trans people are currently treated, and what we want to see done differently.

If you’d like to attend, please RSVP to Also, share this message widely with your friends! DCTC will provide up to $5 to cover your transportation costs to attend, along with refreshments during the event.

P.S. The DC Council is also collecting stories of people’s experiences with police at a hearing on October 27. For more info, or to share your story, drop us a note! Check out Casa Ruby’s testimony from the first round of the hearing here.

Take action to fight discriminatory policing! #RepealPFZs

We know that many in our communities have turned to informal economies, including engaging in sex work, to support themselves. Sex workers have long been subject to police violence and harassment. Since 2006, the Chief of DC’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has had the power to designate any public space in DC as a prostitution free zone (PFZ). In a PFZ, the police can tell anyone to leave the area or face arrest, without any concrete basis for suspicion. That’s a recipe for police profiling, and it’s time to put PFZs to an end.

We opposed PFZs when they were first introduced, and now the DC Council is considering legislation to repeal this harmful and discriminatory law, that DC’s own Attorney General has determined is unconstitutional and indefensible. On Wednesday, June 9, at 11am, the DC Council’s Judiciary Committee will be considering the repeal measure. You can follow the hearing live online. Be sure to join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #RepealPFZs.

Most importantly, DC Council members need to hear from you to support PFZ repeal. We especially need to reach Council members Jack Evans (Ward 2), Muriel Bowser (Ward 4), and Anita Bonds (At-large). Please take a quick moment to email these Council members to voice your support for ending PFZs in DC. Just copy and paste the message below!
I am writing today in support of Bill B20-760 co-introduced by Councilmembers Grosso, Catania, and Cheh and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Wells and Barry, which would repeal the discriminatory Prostitution Free Zones provision from the D.C. Code. 
Prostitution free zones promote the unfair profiling of DC's most vulnerable communities and create an atmosphere of mistrust toward the Metropolitan Police Department. Repealing this law will assist with the process of repairing relations between DC's trans communities and the police, and open the door for more meaningful conversation about issues related to sex work.
This bill is an essential first step in achieving our broader goal of decriminalizing sex work in DC. Your voice is essential to make sure we’re successful. And if you’d like to share your experience with PFZs or biased policing, please just reply to this email and we’ll be in touch ASAP.

April 11: Action to support Monica Jones and end Prostitution Free Zones

Join HIPS, DC Trans Coalition, GLAA, and Best Practices Policy Project and groups around the U.S. and the world standing in solidarity with Monica Jones on her trial date, April 11, 2014. We are joining this global day of action against criminalization and profiling of trans women of color, and calling on DC to repeal the discriminatory Prostitution Free Zones.

Monica Jones, a human rights defender in Arizona and an advocate for the rights of transgender people and sex workers, was profiled and wrongfully arrested for “manifestation of prostitution” by a police sting operation and anti-prostitution diversion program known as “Project ROSE”. Ms Jones had been a speaker at a rally protesting Project ROSE—which is run by Phoenix police and Arizona State University’s School of Social Work—the day before. At the time of her arrest, she was not engaging in sex work, but was in fact walking down her street to the local bar.

On April 11 at 8:30 am (U.S. Mountain Standard Time) Monica’s case will go to trial at Phoenix Municipal Court. She will plead not guilty and an action is planned outside the court to show the City of Phoenix Prosecutor that we won’t tolerate the systematic profiling and criminalization of transgender people of color and sex workers. In DC, we will rally at noon in front of the Wilson Building in solidarity with Monica and trans women of color throughout the U.S. subject to such mistreatment. We will also call on the DC Council to repeal the discriminatory Prostitution Free Zones and promote the human rights of sex workers in our city.

What: Rally against criminalization of trans women of color and for human rights of sex workers
WhenApril 11, 12pm-2pm
Where: Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

DCTC joins in Community Response to Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force

Today, DCTC joined with six other DC LGBTQ community organizations in responding to the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force report released by the Metropolitan Police Department on February 26. Taken together, the Task Force Report, MPD’s response, and the community response provide an essential starting point to improving relations between MPD and DC’s LGBTQ communities.

In the community response, we thank the Task Force for their research and findings. In general, we agree with the recommendations that the Task Force put forward. Our recommendations are designed to build upon the Task Force report by offering concrete steps that MPD and community organizations can take that, over time, will allow for positive change in how LGBTQ-police interactions occur in DC. The community response also looks beyond the issue of hate crimes to discuss response to intimate partner violence in LGBTQ relationships, interactions with LGBTQ youth, and interactions with sex workers. We look forward to engaging with MPD to begin implementing these recommendations.

Finally, the community response offers three specific recommendations to the DC Council, including:

  • Repeal Prostitution Free Zones and decriminalize sex work,
  • Strengthen the authority of the Office of Police Complaints, and
  • Hold annual hearings on marginalized community relations with MPD

UPDATE: A community forum to discuss the recommendations and next steps will be held at Casa Ruby on Wednesday, March 26, at 7:00pm. You can RSVP via facebook or by emailing

To read the Community Response to the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force, please click here (pdf).

Click here to read the Report of the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force and MPD’s response (pdf).