Gender Wealth Gaps: Women Aren’t the Only Ones Impacted
by Kaitlyn Ranze
Remember in middle school when the cool kids sat at a lunch table whispering? Or they passed notes and sent text messages that excluded you? Remember how that felt? Now add money to the equation.
For as long as banking institutions have been around, they’ve excluded people. Instead of popularity contests and social capital, however, they’re playing games with real capital. And a lot of people are paying attention to the wealth gaps it’s creating. From racial wealth gaps to women being excluded from traditional banking services, the narrative around money can still be pretty exclusive. Despite recent improvements institutionally and more finfluencers talking about it socially, it continues to be exclusive and binary.
When we discuss wealth gaps, pay gaps, and inequalities in financial services, non-binary individuals are often excluded.
What is non-binary?
Non-binary is an umbrella term used to describe people who do not identify as exclusively male or female. This can include people who identify as transgender, genderfluid, non-gendered, gender queer, or any other gender identity that does not fit into the traditional gender binary.
To be more inclusive, we can start with pronouns.
I remember the first time I saw someone be misgendered. I was 11 and a really abrasive math teacher was coming down hard on a kid who wasn’t paying attention. He stuttered, “sir” instead of “ma’am” to MRS. So-and-So. It didn’t matter the student’s intent. The teacher was offended, but she was also in a position of power and sent him to the principal’s office.
Now invert the power dynamic. Imagine being a member of a marginalized population and not being able to assert your gender identity.
By being conscientious of the pronouns we use, we can be more inclusive.
For non-binary individuals, pronouns are incredibly important. They are a way to express one’s gender identity, and using the wrong pronouns can be deeply hurtful and invalidating. Using the correct pronouns is essential for feeling seen and respected.
Using the proper pronoun
There are a few ways that you can make sure that you’re using the correct pronouns when speaking to or about non-binary people. The first is to simply ask what their pronouns are. This shows that you care about using the correct language and that you respect their identity.
Take it from me. Remember not to assume what someone identifies as. Guilty-hand-raise? Last week, I mis-gendered someone based on their name. By asking, I could’ve avoided the egg on my face (as well as the persistent guilt and shame I feel to this day).
Another way to ensure that you’re using the correct pronouns is by using gender-neutral language whenever possible. For example, instead of saying “he/she,” try “they.” This helps to avoid assumptions about someone’s gender identity and shows that you’re willing to use non-binary pronouns.
Also, use better examples. Gender normative stories (even like the one I used with the teacher and student) can perpetuate stereotypes and the exclusive narrative.
Finally, it’s important to be aware of the impact that heteronormative policies can have on non-binary individuals.
For nearly a century, the institution dedicated to providing current facts and figures about America’s people, places, and economy went door-to-door surveying the nation. The problem? The survey excluded the nearly 1.2 million adults that identify as non-binary. Finally, in 2020, the Census Bureau’s latest version of the Household Pulse Survey (HPS) asked about sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). It took nearly a century for the Census Bureau to be more inclusive.
While there’s some progress there, there’s more work to be done to increase inclusivity.
Being Non-Binary in a Binary Money Management World
Many non-binary people face discrimination while banking. This is because many banks and other institutions often operate under the assumption that everyone is heterosexual and/or gender binary.
Prudential was the first financial service to survey the LBGT Community in 2012.
“When we did an informal poll, nine out of 10 people surveyed said that they had not been approached by a financial professional that was talking to them about LGBT-specific needs,” says Josh Stoffregen-Foye, vice president of Global Communications, Workplace Business and one of the backers of the first Prudential The LGBT Financial Experience Study. “The original point of [the survey] was to start shedding a light on the community’s unique needs and then equip financial professionals to go out and talk to the community in a way that would resonate.”
Additionally, non-binary people may have difficulty accessing certain financial products and services, such as loans or mortgages, due to their gender identity. This can lead to a lower quality of life and reduced wealth generation. Members of LGBTQIA+ communities have less saved for retirement on average and carry $16,000 more in student loan debt than their cisgender/heterosexual peers.
Other reflections of the wealth gap impacting the non-hetero, corroborated by research from Prudential, MassMutual, Transamerica and SAGE: Members of the LGBT community are less likely to be working with a financial professional or advisor or to own financial products. Non-binary people may find it difficult to understand financial products and services, as these are often designed for binary people. This can lead to non-binary people making poor financial decisions, which can impact their wealth in the long run.
Facing financial insecurity
According to the Census Bureau, “The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) adult population reported living in households with higher rates of food and economic insecurity than non-LGBT Americans… Overall, about 13.1% of LGBT adults lived in a household that experienced food insecurity in the past seven days, compared to 7.2% of non-LGBT adults.“
Transgender people are nearly four times more likely to experience homelessness than the general population, and according to a 2019 report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness non-binary individuals who experience homelessness nationally were unsheltered at a much higher rate than homeless people who identify with their birth gender.
Challenges in the workplace
Unfortunately, little research has been done on how the wage gap impacts nonbinary and genderqueer people. Nonetheless, one Prudential study showed LGBTQ+ people make less money. Another study of trans people in the United States found that 90% had experienced some form of workplace discrimination. This includes being passed up for a job, not being hired at all, or being fired from a job because of their gender identity. Meanwhile, a 2008 study found that the average earnings for transgender women dropped by 32% after transitioning.
However, this does not clearly reflect the experience of non-binary people in the workplace.
In terms of the opportunity gap, however, a 2016 study found that nonbinary individuals assigned male at birth (AMAB) typically faced hiring discrimination, while those assigned female at birth (AFAB) more often experienced discriminatory treatment within their workplaces. Additionally, nonbinary people as a whole were more likely to have been denied a promotion, though they generally have fared better than transgender women.
Gender wealth gaps have a significant impact on the non-binary community.
If you’ve made it this far, know that I’ve only skimmed the surface. A lot of data just isn’t there. But that doesn’t mean these problems don’t exist. We must work to close these gaps in order to create a more equitable society for all. By being aware of these issues and using the correct pronouns, we can help to create a more inclusive world for non-binary people.