Employers in Sweden are more likely to reject job applications from transgender job-seekers, especially in male-dominated fields, even though gender identity and gender discrimination are prohibited by law under Swedish legislation, according to a new study from Linköping University that was recently published in the journal Labour Economics.

“From an economic point of view, it’s interesting to ask why employers don’t make use of these people’s skills. We wanted to find out on which grounds employers discriminate against transgender people because in this case there are two legislative grounds for discrimination that could apply: firstly, sex, and secondly, gender identity and gender expression,” Mark Granberg, a doctoral student in economics at Linköping University said in a statement.


Granberg’s team submitted 2,224 fictitious applications for low-skilled jobs listed on the Swedish Public Employment Service’s job database and stated the applicant had undergone a name change.

In some cases, the name changed from male to female or vice versa. In other cases, the names changed from one male name to another male name.

“The results show that it was 18 per cent more likely that a cis person – a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth – got a positive response from the employer, compared to a transgender person,” reads a statement by the study authors.

“The results also reveal differences between female and male-dominated occupations. With regard to positive replies to applications, the researchers found that the greatest differences between cis and transgender people were in male-dominated occupations. Here, cis men received a positive reply from the employer in 44 per cent of the cases, compared to 24 per cent for the transgender women – i.e. the cis men received nearly twice as many positive replies.”

Researchers saw no statistically significant difference between applicants in fields where men and women are fairly equally represented.

“The study shows that the legislation is not sufficient to protect this group on the labour market,” Granberg says.

“It also suggests that employers discriminate based on several grounds. For instance, it is likely that a transgender man is discriminated against for being transgender in male-dominated occupations, while in female-dominated occupations, the same person would probably face discrimination for being male.”

Read the full paper here.