Feature writing

LGBTQ+ issues

LGBTQ Americans say they are facing ‘national state of emergency’: survey

The Daily Beast

March 28, 2024

A majority of LGBTQ+ adults—including 79 percent of trans adults and 65 percent of LGBTQ+ adults ages 18 to 24—said anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric impacted their mental health.

Over two thirds—70 percent—of LGBTQ+ adults, including 85 percent of transgender adults, say that LGBTQ+ Americans are facing “a national state of emergency,” according to a new survey.

Ahead of the annual International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) on March 31, Data for Progress conducted a survey of 873 LGBTQ+ adults across the country, including an oversample of transgender adults, to examine the gravity and collective impact of recent anti-LGBTQ+ policies and rhetoric. According to the ACLU, nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide so far this year, many focused on trans people.

“What we found is alarming,” Data for Progress reported. “A worse quality of life and mental health, experiences of discrimination and harassment, and difficulties accessing health care.”

A majority of LGBTQ+ adults (53 percent)—including 79 percent of transgender adults and 65 percent of LGBTQ+ adults, ages 18 to 24—said that recent anti-LGBTQ+ policies and rhetoric have negatively impacted their mental health. Sixty-five percent of transgender adults said quality of life had gotten worse for LGBTQ+ Americans in the past year. Forty-four percent of transgender adults said that they have considered moving or already moved out of their community or state as a result of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Sixty-one percent of trans adults had heard anti-trans remarks from a family, friend, co-worker, or neighbor.

More than 60 percent of transgender adults told Data for Progress they were concerned the following actions would result in LGBTQ+ discrimination or harassment: going to a new health care provider to receive care (73 percent); using a public bathroom (68 percent); going to non-LGBTQ+ bars or nightclubs (64 percent); and engaging in public displays of affection with their significant other (62 percent).

Responding to the survey, Delphine Luneau, a spokesperson with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), told The Daily Beast, “There’s not much in these survey results that’s going to come as a surprise to most trans people—we know that in a lot of contexts, our safety and wellbeing are not prioritized by those we interact with, that we’re being lied about and treated as a political football, and that the people who demonize us are often happy to say so to our faces. I have had a lot of these same experiences and fears myself.

“But here’s what we do know: the more people know us, the more likely they are to support us existing fully and openly and joyfully, and in the cities and states where our rights are protected, often that is exactly what is happening. That’s why the Human Rights Campaign works tirelessly with our allies to pass laws that ensure transgender people can live complete, fulfilling lives without discrimination or fear.”

Last year—foreshadowing the 2024 survey results of Data for Progress—HRC itself declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans for the first time in its four-decade history, as a result of the more than 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that were signed into law in 2023. At the time, HRC called it “an unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses.”

“Over the last several years we have seen a record number of bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community—particularly trans and non-binary people, and particularly young people,” Data for Progress spokesperson Rob Todaro told The Daily Beast. “We know that LGBTQ+ young people are placed at significantly increased risks of mental health challenges and suicide because of the way they are treated. This poll shines a light on the real harm caused to people’s lives by this barrage of attacks.

“Trans people are a small population of people, who have received so much attention from Republicans and right-wing media really trying to stir up hysteria to distract from Republicans’ other unpopular policies,” Todaro added. “Republicans want to make this election about transgender athletes and what healthcare trans kids and their families can and can’t receive—to distract from the fact that Republicans want to cut Social Security and give tax breaks to the rich, and do anything Donald Trump says they should do.”

The report “emphasizes the importance of LGBTQ+-affirming communities, policies, representation in media, and online spaces and resources for LGBTQ+ people,” its authors write, finding that more than 3 in 4 LGBTQ+ adults say they would prefer to: live in cities or states that have passed pro-LGBTQ+ policies and nondiscrimination protections (82 percent); work at a company that has stated policies protecting its LGBTQ+ workers (86 percent); and buy from brands that have publicly supported the LGBTQ+ community (76 percent).

Additionally, majorities of transgender adults (68 percent), LGBTQ+ adults ages 18 to 24 (57 percent), Latino LGBTQ+ adults (51 percent), and Black LGBTQ+ adults (51 percent) said that LGBTQ+ representation in media was important to the process of discovering their LGBTQ+ identity.

Todaro said that while TDOV offered a moment to celebrate the “monumental progress of the last decade for the LGBTQ+ community, including the transgender community, especially in terms of increased visibility in the media and public affairs, the survey also shows there is a lot we still have to reckon with—in the disparities we see within the LGBTQ+ community, and in the challenges trans people face every day.”