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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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Snapshot: Transgender in America

Although recent polling indicates that only 11-22% of Americans personally know someone who is transgender, more people are becoming familiar with transgender people. Few people, however, understand the myriad issues facing transgender people, including legal discrimination; limited job opportunities; high rates of poverty, harassment, and violence; health disparities; challenges updating identity documents needed for daily living, and more. This new infographic gives a quick look at state-level laws and policies that impact the lives of transgender people and provides some key statistics on the challenges transgender people face.


To read MAP’s summary analysis of issues facing transgender Americans and to find all of our publications on the disparities faced by transgender people, click here. For a national snapshot of state policies affecting transgender people, visit our equality maps and click on any individual state or issue to learn more.


  • Snapshot: Transgender in AmericaDownload

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