For Immediate Release
Alexis Squire, Equal Rights Center, 202-370-3209


WASHINGTON – April 21, 2016, the Equal Rights Center, (ERC)—a national non-profit civil rights organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.—released a new report identifying potential differential treatment between cisgender women and transgender women, as well as women of color and trans women of color in retail stores.

The report titled, Room for Change, was made possible by a generous grant from the New York based Arcus Foundation, a charitable foundation that focuses on issues related to LGBT rights, social justice and conservation.

The Room for Change report provides the results of investigative research into transgender public accommodations that goes beyond restroom accessibility, an issue currently making media headlines. “This report presents the findings from the first civil rights testing project designed specifically to evaluate the level of discrimination transgender individuals face in the retail environment. Denial of services, transphobic verbal harassment, and even physical assault are anecdotally known to occur; however, there is remarkably little quantitative, objective research documenting the discrimination faced by transgender individuals,” according to the report.

Out of 60 in-person tests conducted across D.C., Maryland and Virginia, 75 percent of gender identity testers experienced adverse, differential treatment compared to their cis-gendered counterparts. Adverse differential treatment included differences in quality, quantity or content of services provided to the testers.

Similarly, of the 60 tests, 40 percent of gender identity testers experienced a negative interaction, including but not limited to verbal harassment, rude service, refusal to assist and being followed by an employee or security.

These findings were consistent with a 2011 survey done by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force that found that over 53 percent of gender identity persons were verbally harassed or disrespected in public accommodation settings.

Currently, only 18 states along with D.C. have gender identity protections in public accommodation settings, yet despite places like D.C. having these laws, discrimination persists.

Thus, Room for Change recommends legislation prohibiting public accommodations discrimination against gender identity for states lacking said protections, along with active enforcement of these protections, such as in the D.C. area, to alleviate discrimination levels.

“From our findings, we hope to continue researching and advocating new methods that can make public accommodation spaces more safe and equitable for all.” said Melvina C. Ford, Executive Director of the ERC.


About the Equal Rights Center (
Originally formed in 1983, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C. With members located in every state and the District of Columbia, the ERC works nationally to promote equal opportunity in housing, employment, disability rights, immigrant rights, and access to public accommodations and government services for all protected classes under federal, state, and local laws.

ERC Logo

Start typing and press Enter to search