What—if any—studies have been done about the prevalence of landlords discriminating against queer and/or Trans* youth seeking housing?  (i.e rental apartment, house etc.)?

This question came from Maverick S. in our latest website survey.

Unfortunately, there haven’t been any studies on queer and trans* youth seeking long-term housing in Canada. (That we know of, anyway. If you find one, please let us know!) Though youth homelessness has been researched much more in recent years, studies specific to queer and trans* youth has been limited to shelter experiences, use and policies. 

When it comes to housing, discrimination by sexual preference or family relationship is illegal in Canada—yet it does happen. One University of British Columbia study found same-sex male couples are nearly 25% more likely to be rejected by landlords. Though there aren’t many Canadian studies, there are some based in the United States with some interesting findings. 

In one study involving pursuing apartments on Craigslist, “same-sex couples were less likely to receive a response to an inquiry for rental housing and were discriminated against by over 15 percent of the landlords. Most rejections came before landlords had any knowledge of the couple’s income, occupations or family characteristics.”

The National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) shows similar results, with 19% of respondents reporting that they’d experienced homelessness, and 11% evicted because they were transgender or gender non-conforming. Some of the findings are even more disturbing: More than half (55%) of respondents reported being harassed by shelter staff; 29% were turned away entirely; and 22% were sexually assaulted by residents or staff. 

The Williams Institute has also undertaken several studies on employment and housing discrimination related to gender identity and sexual orientation in the several states, including Missouri and Idaho

Infographic on trans youth
Media Folder: 

What we know about LGBTQ2 youth in Canada

According to one Ottawa study, 25-40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ2. This study, however, is now about 15 years old—so we’re not 100% sure what the population looks like today. A 2007 U.S. study had similar findings, with 20-40% of youth identifying as LGBTQ. 

Queer and trans* youth often face discrimination when attempting to stay in shelters, with up to 1 in 3 being rejected due to their gender expression or identity. This population is also at a much higher risk of substance abuse, risky sexual behaviour, and homo/transphobic violence. Alex Abramovich’s research, No Fixed Address: Young, Queer, and Restless (also pictured right) discussed family conflict as a primary factor of youth homelessness that is especially pronounced among LGBTQ2 youth.

Similarly, The Ontario Trans PULSE survey found that the relationship between housing and family support is strong. Being adequately housed was “…reported by 100% of youth with parents strongly supportive of their gender identity and expression, but only by 45% of youth whose parents were not strongly supportive.”

Once youth find themselves homeless, shelters need to do more to meet LGBTQ2 youth’s unique needs. As Abramovich states:

“Due to gaps in knowledge and a lack of reported incidents, discrimination against these youth remains largely invisible to policy makers and shelter management at a time when LGBTQ youth homelessness is on the rise (Abramovich, 2012; Denomme-Welch et al., 2008; Yonge Street Mission, 2009). Service providers are not fully equipped or prepared to deal with issues of homophobia and transphobia in the youth shelter system. Currently there are few specialized support services and no specialized shelters in Canada that meet the needs of LGBTQ youth.”

It's worth mentioning, however, that Toronto City Council recently voted to add 54 shelter beds specifically for LGBTQ youth, so this might be changing very soon. 

Trans* people are especially at risk of discrimination and violence, in and out of housing. The Trans PULSE survey of 433 trans* people over 16 found that:

With such high rates of discrimination and violence faced by LGBTQ2 youth in general, it is likely that they face the same (along with issues around ageism and affordability) in the private rental market. Given the importance of housing as soon as possible, more research needs to be done on what happens when LGBTQ2 youth seek long-term housing. 

For more information about the experience of queer and trans* youth, read Alex Abramovich's post on Transgender Day of Rememberance 2014.