They are the "T" in LGBT and arguably the most maligned segment of
Many transgender men and women face hardships in routine areas of daily life. They are twice as likely as the general population to be unemployed or homeless and four times as likely to live in poverty.
Some 90 percent said in a 2011 national survey that they had encountered discrimination at work, and more than one in three attempt suicide at some point in their lives.
Such dire statistics are part of what inspired Danielle Askini, a 30-year-old transgender activist, and a group of volunteers, to organize Trans Pride in Seattle during the week set aside at the end of June each year to mark the historical launch of the nation's gay rights movement.
Executive director of a Seattle organization called the Gender Justice League, Askini said the goal is to help promote visibility of a population often in the shadows of its higher-profile gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
"For us there are some very distinct political and sociological justice struggles that the LGBT community has not always been the best in addressing," said Askini, who lives in Kirkland and is program manager for QLaw, the state's LGBT bar association.
"Some of us are calling this our coming-out party."
The Williams Institute, a national think tank that does public policy research on sexual orientation and gender identity, estimates there are 700,000 transgender people in the U.S. _ people whose birth-assigned sex does not match the gender to which they feel they belong.
Trans Pride celebrations are planned for a number of U.S. cities this year.
It's been 44 years since the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York launched the gay rights movement.
And in cities across the country, the LGBT community marks the anniversary with colorful pageantry.
In the 1990s, transgender people began participating in Seattle Pride for the first time _ one of the first cities where that occurred _ and in 1997 hosted their own Trans Pride Rally, which drew about 150 people onto Broadway on Capitol Hill.
In recent years, as the broader LGBT community has built strong alliances and gained broad acceptance, the particular needs of transgender people have been getting more attention, too.
The Social Security Administration recently announced it would no longer require proof of surgery to alter the gender ID of individuals in its records; other federal agencies also have relaxed requirements for documents such as passports and visas.
Transgender men and women also have gained protection against discrimination in areas such as housing and employment in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and more than half of all Fortune 500 companies now have nondiscrimination policies in place.
During the first August weekend each year, thousands from across the world attend the Gender Odyssey conference in Seattle, an international event focusing on the needs of transgender and gender-variant individuals.
And a growing number of employers nationwide, including Microsoft, have expanded their insurance coverage to meet the needs of transgender workers _ a major area of concern for the community.
Still, transgender people _ who can be either gay or straight _ have not gained the kind of visibility that the gay community has.
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