27 posts categorized "Transgender"

June 14, 2016

Building Intergenerational LGBTQ AAPI Communities

This post originally appeared on the Diverse Elders Coalition blog on May 25, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Vega Subramaniam

I find myself attending LGBTQ Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) events with less and less frequency over time. At one point, queer AAPI community events made up most of my calendar; now, hardly at all. Part of it is that other activities and responsibilities occupy my time, including family responsibilities. Part of it is that my tastes have changed – I am now much happier spending an evening with a few friends at home rather than going out. And speaking of going out: part of it is my lifestyle has changed. I was recently invited to an event that started at 10:00 p.m.! I mean, who does that?! Oh, right, I did, once upon a time.

And to be frank, part of it is that being the oldest person in the room over and over again takes a toll. I recently went on a search for my AAPI lesbian/bi/trans elders, and I (re)discovered how few of us there are, who are out and over 50. And over 60? Forget it. Like, count-on-two-hands few. Hardly what you could call critical mass.

At the same time, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people who are young, queer, and AAPI yearn for a connection to their elders and their histories, to know that others came before them and they’re not alone, and to learn from our experiences. Current leaders of LGBTQ AAPI groups are reassured to learn that the challenges and schisms they face now are the same ones we faced years and decades ago. OK, maybe reassured and also supremely frustrated.

So then I wonder where my compadres are. Well, they’re probably spending a quiet evening at home, or taking care of household and family responsibilities. Maybe sleeping. And circling back to those challenges and schisms I mentioned, probably as weary of the scene as I get sometimes.

There are inevitable constraints on what kinds of spaces naturally lend themselves to multigenerational participation (event start times, for example!). Our respective interests, frustrations, preoccupations are quite different from each other’s. Our cultural cues sometimes feel worlds apart.

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And as with any intergenerational space, opportunities to misunderstand and be misunderstood abound. We each feel that we know better, that we’re right, that the other should listen and learn from us. We each feel the pain and invisibility of ageism.

That said, it’s pretty clear that there’s a desire, on all sides, to have multigenerational spaces. We all light up when we spend quality time with people of different generations. There’s no question that multigenerational spaces support all of us – I’d even go so far as to say we need them for our survival as an LGBTQ AAPI community.

The International Longevity Centre-UK’s “Intergenerational Projects for the LGBT Community” toolkit outlines the many benefits of such spaces:

  • Provide a space where young people can talk to older people about common experiences (such as coming out).
  • Provide role models for younger LGBT people by meeting older people who are comfortable and confident in their identity and who are simultaneously successful in their working lives and personal relationships.
  • Provide a space where any negative generational perceptions can be challenged. Some younger participants in the projects reported that they held negative views of older LGBT people before the projects began. From the perspective of older LGBT people, the projects allow older LGBT people to learn about the diversity of sexual and gender identities that exist among younger LGBT people.
  • Help prevent and overcome a relatively high degree of loneliness and social isolation among older and younger LGBT people, by bringing them together.
  • Provide an alternative forum for debate and support for younger and older LGBT people to discuss their common needs as service users and the discrimination or barriers they may face in accessing services.
  • Provide a space where older people can interact socially with younger people and improve the confidence of older people in communicating with younger people, which may be of particular value given that service providers are likely to be of a younger generation.
  • Provide a useful way of bringing different identities across the LGBT spectrum together, where historically projects may have worked with one group in isolation.
  • Allow younger LGBT people to learn about LGBT history directly from older people, which can lead to a greater appreciation of the liberties currently often taken for granted, and also highlight the challenges that remain.
  • Provide a method for strengthening the visibility of the LGBT community in wider societal terms. Bringing older and younger people together to work on a community project can highlight the diversity, but also the cohesiveness of the LGBT community, to the wider community.
  • Help participants understand, construct, and share their experiences of identifying as LGBT.

We’re seeing more intentional work to create intergenerational spaces, in projects ranging from LGBTQ Allyship’s Conversations Across Generationsto UC San Diego’s Intergenerational Dialogue.

While it’s heartening to see more groups and communities working to build those spaces (and even a toolkit specifically for this!), few are geared toward the AAPI community. The API Equality-Northern California’s Dragon Fruit Project, an intergenerational oral history project, offers a wonderful place to share our stories, house our legacies, and learn from one another. We’ve also seen other efforts at local levels to offer multigenerational gatherings and learning opportunities.

 

I’d also promote intergenerational co-mentorship programs, ones that foster what Suzanne Pharr calls “the fundamental belief that we are all people of worth. Its methods are asking questions and listening intently and respectfully for the answers. Where it leads us is toward the sometimes illusive dream of equality and justice – which can contain all our best ideas without requiring an age i.d.” We all can use some retooling of our toolkits, like learning to ask questions and listen intently about how concepts of race and gender have changed over the years and how those changes affect our experiences as people who are L, G, B, T, and /or Q.

Ultimately, my hope is that as we do approach a critical mass of out LGBTQ AAPI seniors, we increasingly build intentional intergenerational spaces, until they’re so organically embedded that we no longer have to work at it or even think about it.

Watch and share the recent video of SAGE’s Transgenerational Theater Project, where trans people of all ages come together and create.

May 31, 2016

Connecting Across Generations

By Timothy Wroten

Jay Kallio gained nationwide visibility in 2012 when he shared his story about navigating the healthcare system as a transgender man living with breast cancer. Now in the midst of a new battle, Jay talks about how a younger community of activists has connected him to newfound strength and courage.

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Photo Credit: Rosa Goldensohn/DNAinfo.com

Timothy Wroten: Earlier this year, you were diagnosed with a new condition: terminal lung cancer. Many of us would have given up. Where were you at this point?

Jay Kallio: Most terminal cancer patients go through a process called “purging” where they start giving away their possessions. I found myself doing the same thing through the “Queer Exchange” Facebook group. When folks came to pick up my castaways, I brought them downstairs because I was ashamed of my apartment’s terrible condition. I live in pub•lic housing, which entails a lot of delayed re•pairs and maintenance. I didn’t have money to do repairs myself like I used to. One of the people, Ella Grasch, was concerned and questioned me in detail about the apartment. I described how the bathroom ceiling was going to fall, that lights were out, fixtures had short-circuited, and that the plumbing was backed up—numerous problems.

TW: How did Ella and other young activists you met through Queer Exchange help you get what you needed?

JK: Despite being trained in activism, I was too sick to advocate for my own needs. They got to work and generated networks, resources, and money. Ella knew a wonderful woman named Brianne Huntsman who set up a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe. She works in social media marketing, so she had the skills to do it right. They raised money to repair my apartment and also to pay for some healthcare costs not covered by Medicare. People started to send in money, $10, $50, $100, $500…it was an enormous help. I couldn’t manage navigating the bureaucracy of my housing authority, either. I was overwhelmed by the bare minimum I needed to do to survive. Several young people be•came involved: social workers, someone who works in the mayor’s office, and others. They started making phone calls for me, knowing whom to call and how to get things done. My plumbing problems were soon taken care of. Slowly, many things improved.

TW: You said that meeting younger activists from around the country through Queer Exchange and GoFundMe fueled you to generate yet another bout of activist energy. Tell us about the campaign they helped you fight against your insurance company.

JK: My insurance company refused to cover an experimental cancer treatment—immunotherapy—because it cost too much. It was my only hope for remission. A number of younger activists got involved with my own organizing efforts. First, they joined me at this summer’s Pride March. It was amazing to see the older gener•ation of “ACT-UPers” pushing me in a wheelchair, alongside younger LGBT and health care advocates. Taking the money raised, we planned a rally in front of the insurance company. We videotaped it so we could do an online campaign. We used so many different campaign tactics including street theater, online petitions, and a Twitter war against the insurance HMO. We contacted politicians’ offices, which also added pressure. As we started the rally, one of the executives of the insurance company came to us and said, “Have you talked to your doctor yet this morning?” My doctor had already been e-mailed with an approval for my immunotherapy treatment. They had done a 180 on a life-saving treatment that had previously been denied. It’s because younger activists got involved and gave me a big shot in the arm that I can fight for myself again.

TW: In spite of this battle and other health concerns, your rebel heart still beats strong. How have you helped SAGE and other communities fight for better care and equity?

JK: I have worked with SAGE a lot on LGBT cultural competency and healthcare. I am writing chapters for a guidebook to help healthcare professionals better understand the needs of LGBT cancer patients. I have also presented at a few conferences to advance palliative care funding. I’m getting an awful lot done that will not only help LGBT cancer patients, but also Medicaid recipients and cancer patients across the board.

TW: How can young people join in this fight?

JK: After meeting so many young LGBT activists this year, I’ve said, “If you liked doing this with me, why don’t you consider volunteering with SAGE? We need your help. Beyond pushing us in the wheelchair at the next march, we need you to work with us on advocacy!” The fight goes beyond about being gay. It’s about supporting anyone who may be gay and vulnerable, which includes those who are also young, old, of color, or poor. We need cross-generational community and support for years to come. With our mutual vulnerability, we also share strengths to remedy that vulnerability. Activism works. Get involved.

Read about Jay Kallio and other LGBT trailblazers in the Fall 2015 issue of SAGEMatters. May is Older Americans Month. Connect on social media with #OAM16.

March 25, 2016

Kim Watson: A Fearless Advocate for the Trans Community

By Vera Lukacs

Award-winning trans advocate Kim Watson’s inspirational work paves way for the LGBTQ community.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, SAGE would like to bring attention to a particularly inspiring woman. Kim Watson is the co-founder of Community Kinship Life (CKLife), an organization that provides services, resources and support to transgender people. Kim is a mentor and mother figure to young trans people, bringing  them together to live and learn in a safe and stimulating space. Kim also works with Black Transmen Inc., and is currently writing Healing Our Women for POC Trans Women.

Kim watsonKim, herself a woman of transgender experience, advocates for many other transgender people. When asked about the importance of allies in the transgender community, she says, “Allies are folks who are committed to support their SOFFA (significant other family friends and allies) without any deception. The LGBTQ community still has hiccups while trying to support the trans* community, but with dedication they will get better, I believe, in time.”

In a recent GLAAD blog post for #LGBTQFamilies Day, Kim Watson shares on being a mother, wife and mentor of trans experience: “I am also the mother figure/mentor of chosen kids. I have nine boys and one girl who are my chosen children. Now, being a mother figure to these kids has stabilized my patience, my commitment, my passion and energy to keep loving all of them unconditionally. I cannot always see them, but every day I speak to most of them, or they text me.”

Kim is the recipient of many awards, including the Christine Jorgenson Award, the Black Trans Ally Award, and the Certificate of Merit from Senator Jose Serrano (NY).

Kim says, as an aging advocate, it’s important to “stay stress free and practice self care”. Kim, we thank you for your hard work and advocacy for the trans community!

March 17, 2016

Faith, Hope and Justice: A Conversation With Bishop Tonyia Rawls

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post blog on March 16, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Susan Herr

Held in partnership with the Freedom Center for Social Justice, a day-long SAGE storytelling training in North Carolina recently convened LGBTQ activists, aging service providers, movement builders and faith leaders. SAGE’s Susan Herr sat down with Bishop Tonyia Rawls to talk about the social justice mission of the Freedom Center, founding a church, and becoming an elder in a community of faith.

2016-03-15-1458082691-5718444-TanyiaRawlsSH: The Freedom Center has partnered with SAGE for three years as part of the SAGE Story project. Let’s start by talking about the work of the Freedom Center.

BR: The Freedom Center for Social Justice works at the intersection of race, faith, gender identity/expression and social justice. We are committed to the growth, safety and empowerment of the LGBTQ community. Our mission is accomplished through education, programs, partnerships and advocacy. We have three major programs.

The first is the Do No Harm campaign which asks clergy, public officials and small business owners to sign the Do No Harm Pledge promising that they won’t use religion or religious text to create un- safe spaces or violate the law.

Second is the Transgender Faith and Action Network, which is a social network for trans people of faith and allies. It is currently in the testing stage and will have its national launch in spring 2016. The network will provide resources, research, opportunities for connection and tools to build stronger trans-affirming spaces on the ground. We also host an annual transgender retreat that offers an opportunity for refreshing, learning and strategizing.

Finally, we work with key partners like SAGE, NAACP, Southerners on New Ground, Campus Pride and others who share our vision of a world where equal protections and opportunities exist for all.

SH: I was lucky enough to meet you and to learn more about the Freedom Center at this year’s Storytelling Summit in Charlotte. Tell me about the SAGEStory partnership between Freedom Center and SAGE.

BR: We have captured the stories of more than 30 LGBTQ seniors through these summits, many of which we included in a mini documentary produced by the Freedom Center organizer AJ Williams called “Quiet As It’s Kept.” The majority of participants are people of color. However, the group is diverse. The 2014 and 2015 cohorts went through a 6-week training period and learned the skills needed to not just tell their stories, but to turn those stories into positive change and power.

SH: The keynote speaker for this year’s event was the Reverend Nelson Johnson, Pastor of the Faith Community Church. He described his decades-long journey from homophobia to the leadership role he now uses to counter oppression of LGBT people in some Christian denominations. As a recovering fundamentalist myself, I was moved to tears by his story. Why did you invite him to be the keynote speaker?

BR: One of the things we are committed to is not working in silos. While we are unapologetic about our work with and for LGBTQ people, our general concerns are bigger than that. He may be a Black preacher who once held fundamentalist anti-gay views, but he is also an elder who lives in the South. We have far more in common than not. The only way we can cross those bridges to one another is to be willing to let ours down. Reverend Johnson is committed to justice, period. He is a long-time civil rights activist and has been willing to do the often hard work of self-reflection. I honor that part of him, which is why we invited him to share his journey.

SH: You and your wife Gwen moved to Charlotte from D.C. in 2014 to establish Unity Fellowship Church Movement’s first flock there. The denomination, founded in 1982, was born from a need to minister primarily to LGBT Black people during the height of the AIDS crisis. How is the genesis of Unity Fellowship alive in your church today?

BR: Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte was the first church in the denomination to be established in the Bible Belt. The Founder, Archbishop Carl Bean, established a phrase that “God is Love and Love is For Everyone.” In 2014, I founded Sacred Souls Community Church, which is now entering the United Church of Christ. We have been able to expand our reach to all of the members of our community in a way that looks beyond race, class, land of native birth and any other measure that keeps people marginalized and oppressed.

SH: Do elders play as powerful a role in your church as they do in other faith communities?

BR: Elders are those 45 and older who play a vital role in every aspect of our ministry. In addition to their experience and spiritual depth, they have skills that can come only with time. I have grown to depend on them as a pastor and they are some of our strongest advocates for spiritual and social justice for all.

SH: Do you consider yourself an elder?

BR: My mom died at 58 years old and my grandmother at 56. They were both amazing women who impacted not only my life but the life of so many others who looked to them for wisdom, guidance and support. At 57, I find myself functioning in a similar role. I celebrate my life and appreciate the opportunity I have been given to share my experiences, resources and support to those coming along. I view this role as an elder as one of the highest honors one can hold. I believe the world needs us.

SH: SAGE works to ensure that LGBT older people are represented in a wide array of anti-discrimination efforts across the country. North Carolina, where SAGE has two affiliates in addition to our partnership with the Freedom Center, is one of the states where we have focused our efforts. Do you feel hopeful about North Carolina’s ability to advance policies that protect LGBT people of all ages?

BR: North Carolina is going to surprise many people because we have been working together across lines of difference to stand strong against those forces that seek to distract citizens from the real issues that harm them. We also are holding together to reject the notion that the differences between us far outweigh the needs we have as a state. The Freedom Center is working together with groups as diverse as the Latin American Coalition, Time Out Youth, historically Black colleges and other “unusual suspects” to look at politics, justice, faith and hope through a lens of new possibility. LGBTQ issues are being taken out of the box and now applied to life in general.

Follow Susan Herr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/herrview. Follow #SAGEStoryLGBT on Instagram.

March 7, 2016

SAGE Story: Diversifying Public Narratives on Aging

12841378_10154197993090353_2398435676462151264_oThis week, thanks to the generous support of the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, SAGE Story continues to bring storytelling to LGBT older people around the country to address discrimination and reshape the narrative on aging in America.

Piloted in New York City and expanded to multiple sites in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other states, SAGE Story draws on the unique life experiences of LGBT elders to diversify the public narratives on aging and LGBT rights. Stories this week include Gwendolyn in North Carolina, who discusses faith and how her relationship with God connects to members of the LGBT community. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, Shelby shares her struggle with discrimination during her gender transition.

Follow #SAGEStory on social for more stories. To learn more about these and other stories, or to share your story, visit sageusa.org/sagestory.

February 29, 2016

The History & Future of the Black Trans Rights Movement

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Martin and Vazquez with SAGE event attendees

In honor of Black History Month, SAGE will be sharing a series of posts from partners and constituents sharing their stories. SAGE's Digital Media Assistant, Vera Lukacs, shares her experience from attending an event at the SAGE Center Midtown.

On February 23rd, 2016, Jevon Martin and Mya Vazquez hosted a talk on the History and Future of the Black Trans Rights Movement at SAGE Center Midtown. The speakers discussed the past, present and future of the black trans rights movement throughout history, while facilitating an ongoing discussion with those who attended. 

In recent years, the transgender rights movement has become more visible in the media and our everyday lives. However, trans people, and especially trans people of color, are being killed and discriminated at an alarming rate. According to the NCAVP’s Anti LGBTQ & HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2014, 80% of homicide victims in 2014 were people of color. Furthermore, 55% of homicide victims were transgender women. “The transgender rights movement is something that feels new to a lot people, and to other people, it doesn’t feel that new. But we don’t tend to recognize just how far back it goes and how intertwined it is with the history of the entire LGBT movement.” said Pony Knowles, the program coordinator for the event. 

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Sylvia and Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson (far left)

Jevon Martin, the NYS Chapter president of Black Transmen Inc., spoke about his own transgender heroes from the past, present, and his vision for the future. Martin began by showcasing transgender individuals such as Tracey Africa, a transgender African-American woman from New Jersey. She modeled all over the world from Milan and Paris, and eventually was the face of the Clairol Born Beautiful hair color boxes. Next on the list was Willmer “Little Ax” Broadnax, a famous musician born in Mississippi. It wasn’t until Willmer died that people found out he was assigned female at birth. Martin went on to talk about a few notable individuals, such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two of the most visible pioneers in the transgender rights movement and Stonewall riots. 

Some of Martin's and Vazquez’s current heroes are Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and Kim Watson (who was scheduled to be a speaker at this event, but was injured and unable to attend). Both Watson and Miss Major are influential leaders in the black transgender rights movement.  

Kim Watson is the Co-Founder of Community Kinship Life, an organization that is dedicated to “provide the trans community with the tools needed to achieve their personal goals while having a sense of community and kinship.” Griffin-Gracy is the Executive Director at Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project, an organization that serves trans people who are currently incarcerated or are former inmates.  
 
As the event drew to a close, it was clear the audience was left with an appreciation of a community they were not deeply familiar with prior to the meeting. This event, sponsored by SAGE, is part of a larger effort by the organization to bring visibility to the transgender community and create solidarity within the larger LGBT movement.  

November 20, 2015

TDOR: Honoring in Different Ways

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Today is international Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a time when people all over the world unite in support of our transgender community and honor the memory of those murdered because of anti-transgender prejudice. If you're in NYC and wish to join SAGE, our SAGE Center Midtown will be hosting a vigil starting at 6:45 PM this evening. We are located at 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY (between 27 and 28th Streets). That said, the following serves a reminder that not everyone may want to take part in TDOR events. Originally featured on FORGE's website as part of their #30DaysofAction, you can read the original here.

This weekend many communities will be holding TDOR and/or Trans March of Resilience events. TDOR is hard for many people. While some are comforted and feel supported by gathering together to mourn those who had their lives taken by anti-transgender violence, others feel more painful emotions.  For many, being reminded of this severity of violence can stimulate intense fear and sometimes a sense of hopelessness.  Many avoid attending TDOR events altogether.

There is NOTHING wrong with you or others if you cannot or do not want to attend TDOR events (or read or hear about them, either).

Think about the trans people you know: are any not planning on attending a TDOR? Does anyone express distress or avoid discussing TDORs altogether? If so, consider creating an alternative.

  • Create a distraction: organize an outing to an upbeat movie, host a card party, or take a friend shopping (don’t forget secondhand stores if money is limited!). You don’t lose your “trans card” for taking care of yourself and/or your friends.
  • Offer a listening ear. Sometimes what feels most healing is getting long-buried feelings out in the open. This can happen anywhere, at any time, but you can also offer it to the community: put on social media that you will be at X coffeehouse at X time if anyone wants to drop by and talk or just sit together.
  • Encourage people to engage in self-care. This year, in particular, the trans community has been in almost constant mourning for our dead. Sometimes the way we can best honor our dead is by valuing our own lives, which includes self-care when we need it.

 

November 19, 2015

Issues of Aging in the M2F Trans Community

In recognition of Transgender Awareness Week, SAGE and the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging will be highlighting one resource a day until Friday, November 20th which is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). Today's resource is actually a first-person account from Cici Kyttten, on what it's like to age as a male to female trans person.

CiciAs a maturing M2F trans person who is maturing much too rapidly for my own taste, I find myself facing a whole new set of personal issues that I hadn’t considered before. Superficial issues like physical appearance and body image come immediately to mind. These are the same kinds of issues that aging women have faced for generations.

 And those issues are important. Most of us take great pride in our appearance. After all, we’ve spent a lifetime obsessing over it. At first hiding our femme sides, then cultivating them, and then finetuning them as we progressed. So when we see the fruits of all that effort slipping away, it hurts. 

The whole aging process can be especially discouraging to those who came into this world later in life.  We missed all the young years. The fun years. The skinny years!  Consequently, many of us have been fighting the impacts of aging since we started dressing.

But sagging bodies and laugh lines may be the least of our problems.There are a whole host of other issues -- including health concerns, health care, retirement, personal finances, and living accommodations -- that all aging individuals face but become more complicated because we are trans.  

I recently had a rather frank conversation with my doctor about the negative impact that wearing high heels might have on my arthritic knees. Obviously, this is not a conversation my doctor would normally expect to have with a 50-something American male. But, for me, it was instructive. It was a conversation that needed to happen. Unfortunately, at this point in our society, most trans people aren’t comfortable admitting their trans nature to their doctor or other health professionals. And that lack of communication can hinder proper health care -- particularly in matters much more critical than arthritis.

Unemployment and underemployment are rampant in the trans community. This can have a devastating impact on our ability to plan for the future and save for retirement. Even those who have planned appropriately may find themselves changing career paths as they transition or become more out about their trans nature. Changing careers -- and quite often reducing one’s income in the process -- can have a detrimental effect on benefits and investment strategies. 

Aging can be even more complex for those who have transitioned to living full time.  One must be mindful of -- and prepared to face -- challenges related to identity issues, particularly with regard to end-of-life documents, Medicare, access to health care, monitoring of medications associated with transition, and fair housing practices.

But probably the most daunting aspect of aging for most trans people is the prospect of growing old alone. Perhaps we’ve alienated or been ostracized by loved ones by coming out.  Perhaps we’ve lost touch with loved ones due to feelings of shame or embarrassment.  Or maybe we’ve simply chosen to live single and free of family responsibilities -- and therefore now find ourselves aging with no blood relatives in our lives.

Regardless of the reason, many of us are growing old alone.  A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of SAGE, indicates that LGBT individuals are more likely than their non-LGBT counterparts to live alone and experience diminishing support networks. One in three LGBT elders is concerned about “being lonely and growing old alone.”

And I’m one of them. 

I have a great network of friends. Over the years they’ve provided me with the support and confidence I’ve needed to lead a fairly open, productive and fulfilling trans life. But friends are not traditionally the people we turn to take care of us as we age. Blood connections and marital bonds take precedence. Sometimes for legal reasons. Sometimes for personal reasons.  

Fortunately, there is cause for hope. Just as LGBT support services increased around the country as the LGBT communities emerged from their respective closets, services for LGBT elders are now increasing as those communities mature.  

The Los Angeles Times recently reported on the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s first “Senior Prom” - for LGBT couples over 50 years of age. And Stonewall Gardens opened an assisted-living property offering resort-style accommodations, a full-time licensed nurse, and a 24-hour professional care staff -- the first complex of its kind in the Palm Springs, CA area. Hopefully, trans-specific programs, events, and institutions will follow these LGBT models.

My research for this article turned up a fairly extensive amount of resources devoted to LGBT elder issues. One great place to start is your local LGBT Center. SAGE’s Natinoal Resource Center on LGBT Aging also has an excellent list of online resources related to aging. Of particular interest is their publication, Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults: Recommendations for Policy and Practice -- published in conjunction with the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Growing old is something we all must face.  And the trans population faces very real and distinct challenges. But as more of us come out and advocate for equal services, we now have a better chance to grow old gracefully -- with better access to housing, health care, and emotional support.


Cici Kyttten is one of the most prolific writers today in relation to transgender (M2F) lifestyle topics. She lives on the West Coast (USA), and spends her time between LA and Las Vegas. She has a dedicated following of avid fans on her Blog . Cici’s Articles are meant to inspire and inform those who are new to the community as well create provocative dialogue with seasoned Trans Girls. Cici wrote this article on behalf of Suddenly Fem, an exclusive fashion line designing career-wear to club wear for the transgender M2F and crossdressing community. They have been innovating fashions and accessories for over 20 years and in 2013, created a community outreach program in which they help to serve the trans community with information, donations and financial support.

November 18, 2015

Transgender Aging: What's Different?

In recognition of Transgender Awareness Week, SAGE and the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging will be highlighting one resource a day until Friday, November 20th which is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).
 
Despite Caitlyn Jenner (66) coming forward this year with a gorgeous Vanity Fair cover and the Amazon Prime show Transparent receiving numerous accolades, including an Emmy for its cisgender lead Jeffrey Tambor, aging poses unique challenges for transgender older adults. They came of age during decades when transgender people were heavily stigmatized and pathologized. Some came out and made gender transitions during these years, while many others kept their identities hidden for decades and are now coming out and transitioning later in life. Many challenges facing transgender elders are common to the broader older lesbian, gay and bisexual population, but some are different. With a growing older transgender population, there is an urgent need to understand the challenges that can threaten financial security, health and overall well-being. 
 
CaptureTransgender older adults face barriers in areas such as violence, employment and housing discrimination, privacy and documentation issues, a limited knowledge base, community support and engagement, and more. To learn more about these topics, check out our highlighted resource for the day: Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults, authored by SAGE and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
 
For a quick rundown of the report, SAGE and NCTE discovered that a lack of cultural and clinical competence regarding transgender people and their health needs, as well as bias and outright discrimination by providers, created serious barriers to quality care for transgender older adults. These barriers, together with financial barriers, mean that many transgender older adults often avoid or delay seeking care. In addition, medically necessary care related to gender transition is often arbitrarily excluded from public and private insurance, despite the Affordable Care Act (ACA) suggesting otherwise. Inability to access this care can contribute to declining health, and these exclusions are often also used to deny coverage for preventive and other medical care transgender older adults need.

The confluence of widespread discrimination across the lifespan, weaker support networks, and barriers to quality care contribute to poor health outcomes for many transgender older people. Transgender people report higher rates of disability, general poor health, depression, anxiety, loneliness and suicidal ideation. Thus, many transgender elders enter their later years with severe health concerns yet without the social and community supports necessary to address them.

In addition, even though today's aging services network provides a wide range of critical services for older adults, this network is currently ill-equipped to provide competent and nondiscriminatory services to transgender older adults, or to address their unique needs. Few aging providers offer cultural competence training or outreach specific to transgender communities. Many transgender older adults are not getting the support they need, and many are reluctant to seek services at all.

SAGE and other organizations are working on creating policies as well as some key solutions for addressing these barriers. To help inform and create this advocacy roadmap, SAGE brought together a diverse committee of leading experts from around the country, which identified several immediate policy and practice priorities to improve the lives of transgender older adults. In the meantime, you can learn more about transgender aging and supports via the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

 

November 17, 2015

Transgender Awareness Week: Looking at Sexual Violence in the Community

ForgeIn recognition of Transgender Awareness Week, SAGE and the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging will be highlighting one resource a day until Friday, November 20th which is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). TDOR honors the memory of those murdered because of anti-transgender prejudice and is observed in late November in recognition of the 1998 murder of Rita Hester. Rita was a highly visible member of the transgender community in Boston, where she worked locally on education around transgender issues. On Saturday, Nov 28, Rita was murdered in her apartment. TDOR was started as a vigil in her honor and has since become an international event for communities to come together and remember those who have been murdered because of hate.

Did you know that fifty percent (50%) or more of all transgender and gender non-conforming people have experienced some form of sexual abuse, sometimes from many different people over many years? In order to help heal and educate, FORGE recently came out with Transgender Sexual Violence Survivors: A Self-Help Guide to Healing and Understanding.  This substantial document includes information about the prevalence of sexual violence against transgender/gender non-conforming individuals, lists common long- and short-term responses to trauma and offers practical advice and resources for survivors and those helping them. Please click here to access the resource. FORGE's mission is to support, educate and advocate for the rights and lives of transgender individuals and SOFFAs (Significant Others, Friends, Family, and Allies) and they provide valuable training services as well as information on their site. Find them on Facebook and Twitter!