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Queer and trans experience of poverty unknown in BC

The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition is conducting research to fill in an important gap in our knowledge of being poor: how does the queer and trans community experience poverty?

A coalition of over 350 organizations representing 300,000 British Columbians, the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition has done extensive research on poverty in the province. However they acknowledge there are some gaps in their reporting when it comes to queer and trans people.

Both used as "umbrella" terms, queer includes "lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, queer, questioning, intersex, undisclosed or non-labeling and asexual," and trans covers "transgender, transsexual, cross-dressing, undisclosed or non-labeling and gender-queer."

"Queer and trans people had not been identified due to a major gap in the research in B.C. What we do know from research across North America is that queer and trans individuals are uniquely impacted by poverty and that targeted measures are required to tackle the issue," says Jonny Sopotiuk with the coalition.

"We believe it's necessary to include research and policy solutions that target groups most likely to be affected by poverty, including queer and trans people that have so far been left out of the conversation."

Sopotiuk says research from other places in North America has shown queer and trans people make up 20 to 40 per cent of homeless or street involved youth. Support networks like family and friends are often not available to them because of homophobia and transphobia.

"This leads to further marginalization. Resources, like the shelter system for example, have been found to be inaccessible or unsafe for queer and trans individuals due to their sexual orientation and gender identities," says Sopotiuk.

The coalition issued an open call on May 2 to organizations and community advocates working with or representing queer and trans people to provide any information they have about issues of poverty faced by the queer and trans communities. They are also conducting a review of any research available on the topic, both in B.C. and across North America.

Sopotiuk hopes the information gathered can be used to produce online videos and a final report and analysis. The coalition has timed the launch of the research to coincide with Vancouver Pride celebrations in early August.

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee Solutions Society.

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