Beyond 4 Walls and a Roof – Addressing Homelessness Among Transgender Youth

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Author(s): The Center for American Progress (CAP)

  • Hannah Hussey

Published: Feb. 2, 2015

Report Intro/Brief:
"The number of unaccompanied homeless youth in the United States is alarming, with some experts comparing it to an epidemic. Studies indicate that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, youth comprise a disproportionate percentage of these young people—approximately 40 percent. In some regions, 25 percent to 37 percent of LGBT high school students are or have recently been homeless. Unfortunately, little research considers the unique experiences of transgender youth, a group that includes minors as well as young people in their late teens and 20s...

This report compiles existing research in order to provide an overview of the demographics of transgender homeless youth, their experiences while homeless, and the factors that contribute to homelessness and housing instability among this community. It also outlines a series of recommendations for federal, state, and local policymakers to meet the housing needs of transgender young people and to improve outcomes for those experiencing homelessness. In particular, this report focuses on the following mechanisms for preventing and ending homelessness:

  • Providing the resources needed for homeless and at-risk transgender youth to stabilize their lives, including shelters and transitional living programs, skill-building opportunities, health promotion programs, and family intervention services
  • Implementing strong nondiscrimination policies and eliminating barriers to services in shelters, health care, vital records, and law enforcement
  • Addressing the root causes of homelessness through changes to the interlocking systems that hold transgender youth back from reaching their full potential, including housing, employment, education, public accommodations, juvenile justice, and foster care
  • Expanding data-collection efforts to include gender identity in respectful and confidential ways

In the face of adversity, many homeless transgender youth are demonstrating tremendous resilience by building tight-knit peer support networks, leading community organizing and advocacy efforts, and simply surviving despite the odds against them. As they seek to pursue their passions, these young people need targeted support and policy interventions in order to achieve positive social, economic, and health outcomes as they navigate and contribute to the world around them. While the drivers of youth homelessness are complex and solutions will take time, no commitment to seeing all youth safely housed will be complete until policymakers, service providers, researchers, and advocates join transgender young people in celebrating who they are and who they could grow to be."