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Anti-transgender bias costs Mass. millions

May 11, 2011 at 11:28 PM   |   Comments

BOSTON, May 11 (UPI) -- Massachusetts loses millions annually paying public health insurance coverage to transgender residents who've lost their jobs due to bias, a report says.

The study conducted by the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, indicated more than three-quarters of 283 transgender Massachusetts respondents say they have experienced some form of employment discrimination, including losing a job, being denied a promotion or not being hired at all.

Researchers estimate 33,000 people, 0.5 percent of the population of Massachusetts, say they identify themselves as transgender, The Boston Globe reported.

The study released Wednesday concluded the state is paying out almost $3 million in public health insurance coverage to transgender residents who have lost their jobs due to bias.

"When that many people face discrimination, when we trace out the economic consequences, the dollars add up very quickly," said Lee Badgett, research director at the Williams Institute and director of the Center for Public Policy & Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Barbara Green, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, declined to comment on the dollar amount, but said discrimination against transgender residents is a problem.

"Any kind of discrimination definitely costs our state not only in dollars lost," Green said, "but it also costs our state in its reputation as one of the cradles of liberty and as a state that has been a leader in anti-discrimination efforts."

The study is based on a 2009 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which polled more than 6,400 transgender people nationally. No details of the study's methodology were reported.

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