So as unemployment rates continue to climb, workplace fairness has a special resonance among Americans struggling to keep their homes and their dignity. While this sense of vulnerability is new to many, it is not for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, many of whom have absolutely no protection from discrimination and can be fired from their jobs arbitrarily, on the basis of sheer bias rather than work performance.

A forthcoming and groundbreaking study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality underscores the severity of this problem for LGBT people, transgender Americans in particular.

Preliminary data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey of 6,500 transgender people in all 50 states indicate that transgender people experience unemployment at double the rate of the general population. According to the study, as the nation reels at a dispiriting near-10 percent rate of overall unemployment, transgender unemployment is likely to be in the 20 percent range or higher. Predictably, the study shows that high unemployment correlates with poverty, housing insecurity and poor health care access for transgender people.

Jobs and workplace fairness are critical to our country’s future, and people should not be denied their livelihoods because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

As the nation’s political leaders consider how to get America back on solid economic footing and its people back to work, the passage and enactment of ENDA must be part of that solution.

Download the Task Force testimony from today’s Senate hearing and ENDA-related fact sheet on transgender discrimination. Learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at