Background : Housing is well understood to be an important social determinant of physical and mental health and well-being. Transgender and gender non-binary people are more likely to experience homelessness and housing discrimination than their cisgender counterparts. Housing insecurity, not just homelessness, is associated with barriers to health care and increased use of acute-care services. This study explores homelessness and housing insecurity among gender minority individuals.
Methods : Utilizing targeted ethnography, we conducted 41 semi-structured key-informant interviews with gender minority individuals throughout the USA. Interviews queried life stressors, particularly around homelessness and housing insecurity, and included personal experiences and community accounts, connections to other aspects of life such as employment and relationships, and coping strategies. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Data was coded and analyzed for key themes using NVIVO 11.
Results : Respondents discussed an array of housing challenges throughout the gender minority community. About half of respondents reported personal stories; the others frequently shared peer accounts of such housing challenges. Overwhelmingly, financial barriers were discussed regarding access to secure housing, although family rejection and gender-related housing discrimination were also discussed. Financial barriers focused on pervasive discrimination, which limited access to stable employment, cyclically furthering the limited access to stable housing. Discrimination stories were greater for non-white or trans-feminine respondents, leading to even more financial barriers and insecure housing for these populations. Housing insecurity was linked to hygiene and health challenges, overall stress, difficulty maintaining work, and food insecurity. Respondents discussed social support, alternative family structures, and substance use as coping resources.
Conclusions : Nearly all respondents discussed housing challenges as an issue in the gender minority community and its link to other social wellbeing indicators, such as race-based discrimination and maintaining employment, which further destabilizes housing security. The study supports the increase of resources towards gender minority housing access and interventions that address the cyclical discrimination, housing, and employment issues this population faces.