The Racial Wealth Gap Within the LGBTQ Community

A collaborative effort between CEF Staff and Summer ‘24 Interns

As CEF wraps up our yearly observation of PRIDE month, it’s vital to acknowledge that economic disparities persist for the LGBTQIA+ community, exacerbated by discrimination in employment, housing, and healthcare.

It is most crucial to acknowledge the intersecting economic challenges faced by LGBTQ people of color. A “wealth gap” refers to disparities in wealth between different groups, stemming from historical and systemic inequalities. For example, the “racial wealth gap” pertains to economic disparities between different racial and ethnic groups. The “LGBTQ wealth gap” pertains to economic disparities based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For individuals who are both LGBTQ and racial minorities, these gaps compound, exacerbating economic disparity.

Age is another factor that contributes to disparity within the LGBTQ community. The National Colaition For the Homeless reports LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth. The National Network For Youth found that up to 40% of the 4.2 million youth in the US experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ, despite being only 9.8% of the youth population.

The AARP found that LGBTQ Elders living in less LGBTQ friendly communites are 700% more likely to experience housing discrimination tied to their identities. 34% of LGBTQ Elders — and 54% of transgender Elders — reported being worried about having to hide their identity to access senior housing.

For LGBTQ+ adults living with a disability, risk of both poverty and unemployment is further compounded. LGBTQ people are 10-20% more likely to be disabled than their non-LGBTQ peers. The Williams Institute found that LGBTQ men with disabilities are roughly 86% more likely to live in poverty than LGBTQ men without disabilities. Likewise, LGBTQ women were about 78% more likely to live in poverty than LGBTQ+ women without disabilities.

Still, structural racism combined with systemic anti-LGBTQ discrimination leads to the most extreme negative outcomes, especially for Black LGBTQ people. We cannot talk about the compounding disparities faced by Black members of the LGBTQ+ community without defining the concepts of misogynoir and transmisogynoir. Both terms are rooted in the concept of intersectionality, which addresses how various social identities such as race, gender, class, and sexual orientation interrelate in systems of oppression.Coined by Black feminist writer Moya Bailey, misogynoir is a term to describe the combined force of anti-Black racism and misogyny Black cisgender women experience under white supremacy and patriarchy. Transmisogynoir is an extension of the word, to include the added oppression of cissexism experienced by Black trans feminine people. Transmisogynoir manifests most commonly as hate-fueled, and often fatal, gender-based violence.

Regardless of gender identity, the National LGBTQ Taskforce found that Black transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) people face unconscionable levels of discrimination. Black transgender and GNC people have an extremely high unemployment rate, up to 26%. Black transgender and GNC people often live in extreme poverty, with 34% reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year. 41% of Black transgender and GNC people have experienced homelessness, 47% have experienced incarceration, and 50% reported being forced to participate in the underground economy for income, including sex work and drug sales.

Extreme economic disparity for Black trans and GNC members of the LGBTQIA+ community persists as a critical issue that demands immediate attention. This disparity is further compounded by pervasive (and growing) anti-LGBTQ sentiment. Moving forward, it is imperative to advocate for inclusive policies that combat systemic discrimination and ensure equitable access to resources and opportunities for LGBTQ individuals, particularly those facing intersectional marginalizations. By actively supporting these efforts and fostering a culture of acceptance, we can collectively strive towards a future where every member of the LGBTQIA+ community thrives and enjoys opportunities for success and prosperity!

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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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