If you've ever wondered where the most trans-friendly places to live in America are, look no further—we've got answers. Or rather, Refinery29 does, thanks to its new Trans America project. Trans America, which launched today, incorporates all of Refinery29's coverage of trans issues and stories, as well as providing resources and information on what it's like to be young and transgender in America today. It's anchored by a nationwide survey and research study that tracks livability for trans people across the country — but also (and perhaps even more importantly), there are stories: Stories from trans Millennials, stories from a trans politician, and much, much more.
The Trans America map is one of the most notable features of the project, in that it tells us exactly where each state stands in the grand scheme of trans rights and acceptance. In the creation of their map, Refinery29 started by coming up with four categories: Work and School, or whether the state's laws protect both trans workers and students from discrimination; Health Care, or whether there is access to insurance that covers trans-related care, as well as whether there are hospitals that don't discriminate against trans people; Safety, or whether there are hate crime laws in place that cover gender identity; and Community, which includes everything that might make daily life easy — or not — for trans people (are there anti-discrimination laws covering restaurants and other places of leisure? Is it difficult to change the gender of official documents? Etc.). Then they gave each category a score, weighted it, and added them up to get each state's total. Here's the result:
Only five states ranked as “Very Good”; 11 ranked as “Good”; the overwhelming majority — 24 — ranked as “Poor”; two ranked as “Very Poor”; and eight ranked, horrifyingly, as “Unacceptable.” You can see the whole breakdown, including details for each state, over at Refinery29; and here are the top 10 best states in which to be a young trans person below:
California scored a magnificent 97 out of 100 possible points, thanks to its statewide non-discrimination laws, good health care, and strong communities. San Francisco and LA in particular are some of the friendliest and safest cities for gender non-conforming people in the entire U.S.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Vermont came in an incredibly close second at 96 points. The biggie here? The number of advocacy groups like, Outright Vermont, that support LGBT people. Well done, Vermont.
With 89 points, Washington took the number three slot. According to Refinery29's data, the patient bills of rights include trans people in 92 percent of the state's hospitals.
Looks like the West Coast is the place to be: Along with California and Washington, it's got one of the most supportive environments, thanks to thinks like its school regulations and anti-bullying stance. It scored 88 out of 100.
Colorado scored 86, with strong numbers in all four of Refinery29's categories. Bravo!
Illinois scored the best of the Midwestern states with 79 points; it has excellent healthcare access for trans people. All private insurance carriers are required to comply with the non-discrimination policies written in the Affordable Care Act.
Like Illinois, Maine scored 79 our of 100 points. It has strong gender identity legislation; Refinery29 cites the 2014 Supreme Judicial Court ruling that made it illegal to force trans students to use bathrooms that don't comply with the gender with which they identify — the first in the nation to do so. Now there's an example we should all be following.
8. Rhode Island
Some states require people seeking birth certificate changes to have gender reassignment surgery first. Not so Rhode Island, which changed its rules in 2014 — and given the sheer number of ways through which people can transition, that is a very, very good thing indeed. It score 76 out of 100.
Delaware's laws generally do a good job protecting trans people, although as Refinery29 notes, it — like many states — don't have laws in place that protect incarcerated trans people. Still, though, 75 out of 100 isn't bad.
10. New Jersey
Not going to lie: This one surprised me. I live in New Jersey, and by my experience, it's not always… shall we say, the most tolerant of places. Its healthcare access could use a little work, but apparently our anti-discrimination and hate crime laws are pretty good. 73 out of 100 does the trick.
See more over at Refinery29 — and don't forget to check out the rest of the Trans America project while you're at it. The Trans FAQ is a good place to start, but there's loads to explore and to learn. Fight the good fight, right?