Our Survey Results

Below, you will find the text of a fact sheet produced by DCTC summarizing the results of our survey on gender-segregated spaces in DC. Below that, you will also find some reflections on what this data means along with expanded statistics from the survey about employment, income, access to health care and so on.  See our page on Reports and Research for more studies and data on the trans community in DC.



In October 2006, regulations to enforce anti-discrimination protections for gender identity or expression went into effect in the District of Columbia. These regulations include specific protections for people to access and use gender-segregated public facilities consistent with their gender identity.  The regulations also included a mandate for the creation of more gender-neutral public restrooms in the District.  While these regulations are an important step forward, they have not yet been fully implemented and have been threatened by District agencies.

In November 2008, DCTC launched a survey to gather information about people’s experiences accessing or using gender-segregated public facilities.  The results reveal that people in our community have experienced significant problems with these facilities.  These problems have impacted people’s education, employment, health, and participation in public life.  The regulations of enforcement for the DC Human Rights Act must be fully implemented to address problems our community faces.

Reported Problems

The survey collected responses from 93 people who self-identify as trans and/or gender non-conforming and asked about experiences they have had with gender-segregated public facilities in DC, such as restrooms, locker rooms, and public housing facilities.  Out of 93 respondents, 65 (70 percent) reported experiencing problems as follows:

  • 63 respondents (68 percent) have been denied access to, verbally harassed in, and/or physically assaulted in public bathrooms.
  • 17 respondents (18 percent) have been denied access to, verbally harassed in, and/or physically assaulted in locker rooms.h
  • 19 respondents (20 percent) have been denied access to and/or verbally harassed in dressing rooms or changing rooms.
  • Out of the 8 respondents who have been housed in a public housing facility in DC (such as a homeless shelter, DC jail, or treatment facility), 6 respondents (75 percent) experienced physical assault, verbal abuse, denial of medical care and/or hormones, harassment, and/or being treated worse than others by staff.

Impact of Reported Problems

This survey assessed the impact of problems with gender-segregated public facilities in four areas: education, employment, health, and participation in public life.


  • 13 of 31 respondents (42 percent) who attended school in DC reported being denied access and/or verbally harassed in gender-segregated facilities at school.
  • 3 respondents (10 percent) reported these incidents negatively impacted their education in the following ways: caused excessive absences, poor performance, had to change schools, and/or dropped out of school.


  • 16 of 60 respondents (27 percent) who have worked in DC reported being denied access and/or verbally harassed in gender-segregated facilities at work.
  • 8 respondents (13 percent) reported these incidents negatively impacted their employment in the following ways: caused excessive tardiness, poor performance, had to change job, and/or had to quit job.


  • 53 respondents (54 percent) reported having physical problems from trying to avoid using public bathrooms, such as “holding it,” dehydration, urinary tract infection, kidney infection, and other kidney-related problems.
  • 8 respondents (9 percent) have avoided going to a hospital, healthcare facility, or doctor’s office because those facilities have gender-segregated restrooms.

Participation in Public Life:

  • 54 respondents (58 percent) reported that they have avoided going out in public and 28 respondents (30 percent) reported not attending a specific event, both due to a lack of safe public restroom facilities.
  • 37 respondents (38 percent) reported avoiding particular public places due to a lack of safe restroom facilities.  The places respondents most frequently avoided include retail stores, restaurants, gyms, and bars (including gay bars).

Policy Needs

1)    DC must fully implement the enforcement regulations adopted in October 2006 for the “gender identity or expression” provision of the DC Human Rights Act.

2)    The new DC Department of Corrections Operations Memorandum must be fully implemented with regular review and revision to improve effectiveness.


A total of 69 (74%) of our respondents identified as white; 20 (22%) as black/African American; 4 (4%) Latina/Hispanic; 3 (3%) as Native American; 5 (5%) as Asian/Pacific Islander; and 1 (1%) as Arab/Middle Eastern. Since respondents were able to mark more than one racial identification, 63 (67%) identified themselves as only white.

58 respondents identified as transgender, 26 as transsexual and 36 as genderqueer. (There were more possibilities listed, including but not limited to androgynous, masculine woman, feminine man, third gender, two spirit, crossdresser and drag queen, and respondents were able to check multiple answers.) 16 identified themselves as male-to-female and 36 as female-to-male. 60 respondents were assigned female at birth, and 40 were assigned male at birth. This would seem to indicate that trans women were underrepresented in the data.

34 (37%) were aged 18-24; 30 (32%) were aged 25-34; 15 (16%) aged 35-44; 8 (9%) aged 45-54; 5 (5%) aged 55-64 and 1 (1%) was aged over 65. Thus, our data is also extremely skewed toward young people.

15 (16%) of respondents were unemployed, 46 (49%) were part-time employed, 24 (26%) were full-time and 8 (9%) responded they had another form of income besides full or part time employment.  2 (2%) respondents were homeless, 10 (11%) owned homes, with the rest renting, living rent free or living in a college dorm.

Incomes were as follows:

  • 10 (11%) : no annual income
  • 17 (18%) : under $5,000
  • 8 (9%) : $5,000 – 9,999
  • 7 (8%) : $10,000 -19,999
  • 7 (8%) : $20,000 – 29,999
  • 10 (11%) : $30,000 – 39,999
  • 7 (8%): $40,000 – 49,999
  • 8 (9%) : $50,000 – 59,999
  • 9 (10%) : $60,000 – 69,999
  • 2 (2%) : $70,000 – 79,999
  • 2 (2%) : $80,000 – 89,999
  • 0 (0%) : $90,000 – 99,999
  • 5 (5%) : $100,000 or more

In other words, almost half (46%) of all respondents made less than 20,000 dollars a year. 8 (9%) had no insurance and 10 (11%) were on Medicare/Medicaid. Of the respondents who indicated they wanted some kind of medical procedure to help them transition, 34 of 57 (60%) said they could not afford it.

Removing the people who only identified as white, incomes were as follows:

  • 8 (27%) : no annual income
  • 6 (20%) : under $5,000
  • 1 (3%) : $5,000 – 9,999
  • 1 (3%) : $10,000 -19,999
  • 3 (10%) : $20,000 – 29,999
  • 6 (20%) : $30,000 – 39,999
  • 1 (3%): $40,000 – 49,999
  • 1 (3%) : $50,000 – 59,999
  • 2 (7%) : $60,000 – 69,999
  • 0 (0%) : $70,000 – 79,999
  • 0 (0%) : $80,000 – 89,999
  • 0 (0%) : $90,000 – 99,999
  • 1 (3%) : $100,000 or more

Thus, 53% of people who identified as something other than only white made less than 20,000 a year, compared to 46% of the total sample population including white respondents.

35 respondents (38%) believe they have been discriminated against based on their gender identity or expression in DC since the regulations on gender identity and expression in the Human Rights Act went into effect.  Only 2 respondents have reported the discrimination to the Office of Human Rights. In the “write more” boxes on the survey, people expressed that they seriously doubted whether reporting the incidents would be taken seriously.

The data is also very specific in that it is asking whether the person surveyed had experienced problems in DC since the regulations went into effect. Since many of our respondents did not actually live in the District, they may have experienced discrimination in other places, or before 2006. For example, we cannot even say the percentage of trans people surveyed who have been housed in public accommodations (i.e., jail, shelters etc). Since there is no federal prison in DC, anyone who has been sentenced to a felony or a sentence of over 6-8 months would have served time outside of DC.

Therefore it is possible that more than the 9% we discovered have actually been incarcerated or in homeless shelters outside of DC, or before 2006. Also, given that our data is skewed toward young, white, FTM-spectrum individuals, this number is also likely off.

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