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Transcending Prejudice: Gender Identity and Expression-Based Discrimination in the Metro Boston Rental Housing Market

61 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2017 Last revised: 10 Apr 2017

Jamie Langowski

Suffolk University Law School

William Berman

Suffolk University Law School

Regina Holloway

Suffolk University Law School

Cameron McGinn

Independent

Date Written: March 27, 2017

Abstract

Surveys of transgender people reveal high levels of discrimination in housing. Surveys are helpful; however, in the housing context discriminatory actions are often subtle and occur without a person’s knowledge. Very little empirical evidence, in the form of statistic measures of discrimination exists regarding the actual level of gender identity-based discrimination that is occurring in the rental housing market.

This article presents estimates of discrimination from a series of matched paired housing discrimination tests. This method of gathering objective data from the rental housing market provided a comparison of the treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming people with that of the gender conforming cisgender people with whom they were paired. This study found that transgender and gender non-conforming people received discriminatory differential treatment 61% of the time. In addition, they were 27% less likely to be shown additional areas of the apartment complex, 21% less likely to be offered a financial incentive to rent, 12% more likely to be told negative comments about the apartment and the neighborhood, and 9% more likely to be quoted a higher rental price than people who were not transgender and conformed to typical gender standards. The study also analyzed data separately for transgender and gender non-conforming people, with similar findings. The type of discrimination this study reveals is similar to the subtler form found in recent studies of race discrimination, but at higher rates than that found with some other protected classes. Gender identity is not a protected class under the Fair Housing Act and is only included in nineteen state housing anti-discrimination laws. In 2016, more than 200 anti-LGBT bills were introduced and hate crimes against transgender people increased 239% between 2013 and 2015. In light of the lack of full protection against discrimination for transgender and gender non-conforming people and the extent of discrimination revealed in this study, policy makers should add gender identity as a protected class in anti-discrimination laws.

Keywords: transgender, gender identity, gender expression, cisgender, LGBTQ, fair housing, housing discrimination, fair housing act, discrimination, matched paired testing, fair housing testing, empirical

Suggested Citation

Langowski, Jamie and Berman, William and Holloway, Regina and McGinn, Cameron, Transcending Prejudice: Gender Identity and Expression-Based Discrimination in the Metro Boston Rental Housing Market (March 27, 2017). Forthcoming, to be published in Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Vol. 29, No. 2, 2017; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 17-9. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941810

Jamie Langowski (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

William Berman

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

Regina Holloway

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

Cameron McGinn

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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