“Housing Insecurity Seems to Almost Go Hand in Hand with Being Trans”: Housing Stress among Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Individuals in New Orleans

Abstract

Housing is an important social determinant of physical and mental health. Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals (T/GNCI) face a unique constellation of discrimination and compromised social services, putting them at risk for housing insecurity, homelessness, and its associated public health concerns. This study explores housing insecurity among T/GNCI in New Orleans, LA, where the infrastructural landscape is marked by an underinvestment in housing stock and disaster capitalism. In-depth interviews were conducted with T/GNCI (n = 17) living in New Orleans, identified through purposive sampling. Semi-structured guides were used to elicit personal stories and peer accounts of insecure housing experiences and coping strategies. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Data was coded, sorted, and analyzed for key themes using NVIVO 11. Respondents discussed an array of circumstances that contribute to housing insecurity, including intersectional stigma and discrimination coupled with gentrification and a changing housing landscape in the city. Housing was intricately intertwined with employment and other structural issues; vulnerability in one realm was closely tied to insecurity in the others. Social support and queer family structures emerged as a key source of resilience, coping, and survival. The study supports an increase of resources for T/GNC housing access and interventions that address the cyclical discrimination, housing, and employment issues this population faces with a consideration of the historical and current structural barriers impeding their access to safe, stable, long-term housing.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In this paper, we use the terms ‘Transgender and gender non-conforming (T/GNC)’ as an umbrella term, acknowledging that there is great variety and preference in related language and identities, and constant evolution. Transgender is an umbrella term that describes individuals whose current gender identity is not fully congruent with their assigned sex at birth. The term gender non-conforming refers to people whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. Community partners chose this umbrella term for the paper. Respondents’ self-ascribed gender identities are used throughout the paper whenever possible.

  2. 2.

    People to whom one is emotionally close with and considers “family” even though they may not be biologically or legally related

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank all of the study participants who shared their time and stories with us, as well as the LGBT Community Center of New Orleans and BreakOUT! for participating in various stages of the project from research question development to participant engagement and providing space for the interviews and data analysis. We express deep appreciation to Maxwell Ciardullo, Emily Rey, and Wesley Ware for reviewing multiple drafts of the manuscript and providing indispensable insight into the local context. We also thank Kendra Davis, who helped with data transcription and Steph de Wolfe who assisted with preliminary coding. This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (P60AA009803), and the Drug Dependence Epidemiology Training Program, NIH/NIDA (T32DA007292).

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Glick, J.L., Lopez, A., Pollock, M. et al. “Housing Insecurity Seems to Almost Go Hand in Hand with Being Trans”: Housing Stress among Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Individuals in New Orleans. J Urban Health 96, 751–759 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-019-00384-y

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Keywords

  • Housing Insecurity
  • Homelessness
  • Transgender
  • Gender non-conforming
  • New Orleans, LA