Study: Transgender Rental Bias Severely Limits Housing Choices

Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals responding to apartment ads in Greater Boston were more likely to be quoted a higher rental price, were shown fewer apartment amenities such as storage or laundry, and were less apt to be offered a financial incentive to rent, according to a recent study conducted by Suffolk University Law School’s Housing Discrimination Testing Program.

The study, which used data from a series of fair housing tests conducted during 2015 and 2016, found that transgender and gender-nonconforming people were treated differently 61 percent of the time compared to test groups of non-transgender individuals. It’s the first study to provide statistically significant data with respect to the rate and types of discrimination facing this vulnerable group.

“It is well understood that transgender and/or gender-nonconforming people are among the most vulnerable to discrimination in our society,” the article’s authors write. “The study confirms that discrimination is occurring against this population in the Metropolitan Boston rental housing market. Such discrimination can severely limit a person’s housing choices and have a negative impact on all areas of a person’s life.”

Massachusetts is one of 19 states that includes gender identity in state housing antidiscrimination laws; in 2012, the commonwealth’s anti-discrimination statute was amended to include gender identity as a protected class. Nevertheless, the authors say that results of the study provide evidence that gender-identity discrimination in the rental housing market is real, and rates of discrimination are high, even in a state where gender identity is a protected class.