17 June 2013

Half Are Without A Home

Chances are, you've heard of Covenant House. It operates shelters in 22 cities (including New York, where I live) that aim not only to get and keep teenagers off the streets, but to help them overcome some of the things that render them homeless.  Those things include, of course, drug addiction and mental health problems. But, as the folks at CH have recognized, those problems are usually just the symptoms: The kids run away from home because they've been bullied or experience abuse or other kinds of violence at home.   Or, they are kicked out of their homes for "coming out".  And, of course, such young people--with no credentials or marketable skills, or any means of support--too often turn to drugs and sex work, among other things.

Jake Finney, the anti-violence project manager at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, is very familiar with his city's Covenant House.  Take a guess at how many of its residents are transgendered.

All right, I'll tell you:  Half.  Yes, fifty percent.  One in two.

Now, what percentage of the US population is transgender?  Depending on whom you believe, it's anywhere from 0.3 to one percent of the population:  In other words, anywhere from one in a hundred to one in three hundred thirty. 

To put it another way, a resident of Covenant House-Los Angeles is fifty to a hundred sixty times more likely to be transgendered than someone in the larger population.  

Of course, we all know that it's difficult to get accurate numbers for anything pertaining to transgender people. Part of that has to do with how trans people are defined, but equally important is the fact that many of us live (as I did) in our birth genders for much or all of our lives.  Also, many trans people--such as the ones who become homeless--"fall off the grid."

No comments: