Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Obama Administration and LGBT Elder Issues

Most civil rights movements take place over many decades, meaning that the early activists often don’t live long enough to reap the fruits of their labors: U.S. voting rights for women were called for in 1848, at the Seneca Falls Convention, for example, but the 19th Amendment didn’t pass until 1920.

I therefore feel especially privileged to have lived long enough to see the massive changes the Obama Administration has wrought in the federal government’s treatment of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.  Unfortunately, most of these changes have been “under the radar” and haven’t addressed the major legislation many LGBT activists are most concerned about – the formal repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, and passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act – so the Administration hasn’t gotten the credit it deserves.  But for those of us who have been working for these changes for decades, the new policies and practices are nothing short of miraculous.  In this article, we’ll discuss what’s happened and the probable ramifications these changes will have for those who work with abused and at-risk elders and disabled adults.

First, let’s time travel back to 1996.  Continue reading


  One of the coolest aspects to getting older is being able to actually experience how life changes, how history is built.  If you’d like a chance to measure your memory against “the history books,” you can now do so online, at

 Originally funded by the Arcus Foundation and now supported by individual contributors, the website includes many articles, photographs, and primary documents about queer history over the centuries.  Be sure to check out the exhibit put together by SAGE participants at

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved One(s)

Can you correctly answer all seven of the following True or False questions?

  1. You have to own property to have an “estate” and need a will.
  2. Medicare covers nursing home care.
  3. If you or your partner receives government benefits, it might not be in your interest to get married or enter into a civil union.
  4. When a person inherits his or her same-sex partner’s 401(k) or 403(b) retirement account, she or he always has to pay taxes on the amount.
  5. Legally-married transgender people don’t need the protection of a personal relationship agreement or Memorandum of Understanding.
  6. If you have a durable power of attorney, you do not need a hospital visitation authorization.
  7. No laws prohibit a retirement home from discriminating against a same-sex couple or a transgender person.

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Gerontological Social Work Addresses Transgender Aging

Diane Persson, long-time member of the Transgender Aging Network and colleague of Houston’s late transgender/HIV activist Brenda Thomas, was pleased to send me a copy of her new article, “Unique Challenges of Transgender Aging: Implications From the Literature,” which has just been published in the Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 2009 (Vol. 52, pp. 633-646).  ( )

As the title implies, there’s no new data in this article, which is instead focused on using existing documents to build a transgender 101 for social workers new to transgender aging issues.  The first section gives definitions; models the dimensions of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation; and looks at prevalence estimates.  This section does (very briefly) mention autogynephilia (a highly controversial and contested theory that calls male-to-female (MTF) transsexual women sexually attracted to men “homosexual” and says other MTFs are motivated by an “erotic desire to become women”) without noting the controversy around it.

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