What does the "social situation of LGBTA people in Poland 2019-2020" report say about trans people?

  • Nina Kuta

  • Dag Fajt

  • Adam Marczak

  • 12 gru 2022

The recently published report produced together by the Kampania Przeciwko Homofobii (Campaign Against Homophobia) and Lambda Warszawa Association, is a true compendium of knowledge with over 300 pages of statistics, charts and percentages. Many people may find it difficult to dig through such a long report, so we tried to briefly present a selection of information from the report that specifically concerns the trans community.

Link to a full report can be found HERE (in Polish).

What kind of group of trans people is the study about?

The report is based on online surveys published on dating portals, support groups and LGBTQIA+ websites.

The method of research influenced who the survey could reach: it was necessary to have access to the Internet and to be familiar with the above-mentioned spaces. Therefore, it should be very strongly emphasized that the research sample is not representative for all transgender people. It is not the authors' fault as producing a fully representative study is simply not possible because of the specifications of the available research sample. This, however, means that the statistics listed below will not represent the situation of the whole transgender community in Poland, but only the part of the population that has been studied. What are its characteristics?

Of all groups studied under the LGBTQA+ umbrella (gay, lesbian, asexual, bisexual female, bisexual male and queer), the transgender group is one of the youngest. The average age of trans respondents is just under 23 years old. The median age of the trans respondents has not been reported, but we can estimate that it is even lower, given that for all respondents it is 22 years old. The gender ratio among trans respondents are distributed approximately equally — 47% being non-binary, 27% being trans men and 27% being trans women (the remaining 7% chose the "other" option). Compared to the general population, trans people rarely live in the countryside and in small towns, and much more often in big places. This disproportion is more apparent in people over the age of 18, which indicates a tendency to move to places perceived as more accepting.

An extremely important piece of information in the context of all of the statistics presented below is the fact that the vast majority of people examined have not been through medical transition or are not outed before institutions:

  • only 2% of transgender people started a medical transition before 2018. Another 8% started it within the last 2 years (p. 320
  • 44% of people plan to start medical transition in the following years, 46% do not plan to do it at all (p. 320
  • out of people who have a job, 70% did not disclose their identity to co-workers, 82% - to their supervisors (p. 326. Out of people who are still learning/studying 73% did not disclose their identity to their teachers, whether at universities or at school (p. 328
  • 54% of trans people did not disclose their gender identity to any family members, and 10% - to any of their friends (p. 43-44

What does that mean? This means that this report is, for the most part, a report on people still closeted on a daily basis. People who have discovered their identity over the last few years, due to the increase in the visibility of transgender people and who disclose their identity primarily to friends.

The information provided in the report cannot be used to characterise the experiences of other groups, such as those who transitioned many years ago, nor of all other transgender people. We could jokingly say that we are glad that KPH and Lambda Warszawa conducted a focus research for our project's main target, but we don't feel like laughing in this context. It means that most of the respondents have not yet been through medical and social transition, and yet they are at the forefront in all statistics on the experience of violence.

Report statistics:

  • of all groups surveyed, trans people were one of the groups with the lowest income. This difference still remained significant after taking age and place of residence into consideration. 73% of surveyed working transgender people earned less than PLN 4,000 net (around 900 USD). The lowest incomes were declared by non-binary people (p.31);
  • out of trans people who did come out to their parents, 40.4% of the respondents had a fully accepting father, and 47.7% had an accepting mother. Most parents do not fully accept the gender identity of their transgender children (p. 52);
  • 23% of trans people lost contact with at least one close person after coming out. Among trans respondents, the percentage of people choosing answers like "at least half", "most" or "all/almost all" was the highest in relation to the rest of surveyed groups (4.1%, 2.3%, 0.8% of the total trans respondents, respectively) (p.55);
  • among trans people who disclosed their gender identity at work, 18.6% experienced discrimination, which is the highest percentage of all groups surveyed (p. 106). Discrimination in public spaces was less frequent and affected 11.5% of respondents (p. 115);
  • 27% of trans people stated that the doctor knew little to nothing about them while receiving medical care in the area of transsexuality. In the case of receiving medical care unrelated to transsexuality, the knowledge of doctors was assessed as little or almost nonexistent in 83% of all cases. (p. 321);
  • 43% of trans healthcare users have experienced discrimination at least once in the last 2 years. 20% were targets of insults and negative comments from the doctor, and 7% were refused help (p. 322);
  • out of all the studied forms of violence, transgender people were most often exposed to physical violence (18.7%) and vandalism (33.3%). The percentage of experiences of verbal violence and threats remained at relatively similar levels in all groups (59% and 45.9% respectively in case of trans people). 26.2% of trans people suffered sexual violence, which is one of the highest scores, comparable to a situation of bisexual women and asexual people which was the only group that had a higher percentage than trans people (p. 134);
  • symptoms of severe depression were observed in 61,3% of trans people, the most of all studied groups (p. 158);
  • out of all studied groups, trans people were least likely to choose positive forms of coping with minority stress (proactive measures, seeking the support of others). Trans people most often gave up in the face of difficulties and reached for sedatives (p. 188);
  • trans people belonged to a group that most strongly identified with the LGBT community (p. 213) and rated its actions most highly (p. 214). Supporting the fight for the rights of LGBT people through non-normative actions (i.e. violating legal or social norms) was the highest among trans people (p. 221). They also trust the police the least (p. 240) and are most often dissatisfied with the current political system (p. 246)
  • transgender people more often support formalised same-sex relationships and free adoption of children within their environment than cis gay people (p. 223-224);
  • within one year of the survey, 13.6% of trans people experienced expulsion from home, 25% at least once lacked shelter, and 11.3% were at least once in a situation where they lacked access to hygiene items. Taking everything listed above into consideration, trans people are in the worst coping situation out of all examined groups (p. 272 Taking into consideration the conservative definition of homelessness (with the coexisting lack of access to shelter, food and hygiene items), 4.4% of trans people have experienced homelessness in the last year, it's again the highest score of all groups of respondents (p. 277);
  • only 15% of LGBT+ people had classes on gender identity at school (p. 291). For comparison, 34% of the surveyed minors were provided with information on sexual orientation;
  • 15% of trans people were approached with suggestions of "treating" or "repairing" their gender identity by members of a religious group (p. 303). Similar suggestions were made by people providing psychological support to 20% of trans people (p. 323);
  • 27% of the respondents undergoing the diagnostic process stated it lasted 3 months or less, 24% stated it lasted a year or more. The study also asked about the length of the real-life test: due to the fact that many doctors nowadays avoid that step the most frequent answer was "3 months or less". It was chosen by 49% of the respondents (unfortunately, the questionnaire did not have a "none" answer). However, as many as 13% stated that it lasted longer than 2 years (p. 318);
  • 58% of the surveyed transgender people have been under psychotherapist care in the last two years (p. 319);
  • due to fear of using public toilets, 57% abstained from using them despite the need, 41% planned meetings so as to avoid the need to use them, and 39% reduced fluid consumption. Frequent dehydration and urinary retention can have negative health consequences: 9% of the respondents suffered from urinary tract infections and 5% from kidney problems (p. 324).


It's not looking too good.

However, we do not want to leave you with negative feelings only. Within the LGBTQIA+ community, trans people are one of the groups most affected by violence and, although it would be better if they did not need to be, they are also one of the most persevering ones. Over the last few years, the visibility of transgender people has increased, both in terms of our problems and our unique perspective on gender and sexuality. We are able to organize ourselves, take care of each other, support each other and show that we care. Together with a significant number of people who describe themselves as trans, we can do it better and more effectively. No matter what happens and what your experience is, remember - you are not alone and you can always ask for help. Together we can pull through, and we can accomplish even more.