Monthly Archives: March 2011

New Health and Caregiving Resources

Whew!  Lots of new documents and resources out this past week!  We’ll review some of the key findings of them over the following days, but for those who can’t wait, here are the links:

The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding — groundbreaking report by the Institute of Medicine.  Available here:

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has a new web-based collection of caregiving resources at

Changing the Game: What Health Care Reform Means for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans

The Health of Aging Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Adults in California

Taking It on the Chin: New Fast Facts about Violence Against Transgender People

In February 2011, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) released the largest-ever survey of transgender and gender non-conforming people, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (available at  Nearly 6,500 responded to this wide-ranging questionnaire.  Here are some highlights relating to the violence faced by transgender and gender non-conforming people.

Abuse at home and at school

  • 19%  have experienced domestic violence at the hands of a family member because of their transgender identity or gender non-conformity
    • MTFs are more likely to experience family violence than FTMs (22% to 15%)
  • Of those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12…
    • 78%  experienced harassment 
      • 31% experienced harassment from teachers or staff
  • 35%  experienced physical assault 
    • 5% were physically assaulted by teachers or staff
  • 12%  experienced sexual violence 
    • 3% were sexually assaulted by teachers or staff
    • MTFs were more often sexually assaulted (15%), compared to FTMs (10%)
  • 6%  were expelled for their gender identity/expression
  • 50%  have experienced harassment by someone at work
  • 7%  have been physically assaulted on the job
  • 6%  have been sexually assaulted at work

Research on Transgender Brains

I don’t usually spend much time on “why” people are transgender (or heterosexual, or whatever), believing that the goal is to give all people rights and respect, “even if” they *choose* to be different.  (In other words, I don’t believe in saying people ought to have equal rights only if they agree that given their druthers, they’d be just like everyone else.)  Politics aside, however, there are many people interested in the biological bases of differences, so I wanted to pass along a resource that addresses transgender biological and brain differences.  Be forewarned that nearly all of these look highly academic (i.e., difficult for the average reader to understand).  The compilation is by Zoe Brain, a self-described “Rocket Scientist” from Australia.

Dept. of Justice Takes New, Stronger Stance Against Anti-LGBT Bias

The evidence came in what may be a mostly-overlooked study of the New Orleans Police Department, but the shift in how the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is now thinking about anti-LGBT bias represents a profound and very important shift, particularly for transgender people.

The 150+-page “Investigation of the New Orleans Police Department” covers anti-LGBT police bias only briefly, and doesn’t say much that the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs and our own people have been saying for years: there’s a lot of police bias against LGBT people, particularly when we’re African-American and/or transgender.  What’s different is that DOJ is now viewing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as needing the same level of justification as that based on race and sex.  Continue reading

Obama Administration Spearheads International LGBT Rights

The U.S. State Department co-chaired an effort that resulted in 85 countries issuing a Joint U.N. Statement entitled, “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” on March 22, 2011. Continue reading

Lawsuits Filed to Change Birth Certificate Rules

Most LGBT older adults probably don’t think about their birth certificates much, but they are critical documents to transgender people who are no longer living as the sex they were assigned at birth.

Like most other identification documents, birth certificates – needed for such things as obtaining a passport – have the potential to “out” a transgender person when the recipient realizes the name and/or sex on the document doesn’t match the application or intake form.  To remain safe from discrimination and/or to keep their personal medical history private, many transgender people try to change these documents so everything aligns. Continue reading

Speaking to Include: Transgender Elders

In 2007, FORGE’s Transgender Aging Network (TAN) asked 100 transgender and SOFFA (Significant Others, Friends, Family, and Allies) individuals age 50 and older what gender identity term they used, and gave them a write-in space. 

 We received 51 different answers. Continue reading

Institute of Medicine Makes Recommendations About LGBT Health Disparities

A study panel convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an “an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public,” has added its voice to the growing chorus of leaders publicly calling for more attention to LGBT health disparities.

Asked to identify key health targets for the nation in the next decade, the panel noted that it was “disappointed” that it could not select any objectives in the areas of social determinants of health, health-related quality of life and well being, and LGBT health “because no objectives had been listed [in these areas] by Healthy People 2020.”  The panel listed some LGBT health disparities and then went on to say and recommend the following: Continue reading

Improving Older Adults’ Health Prevention Efforts

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Administration on Aging (AOA), and other partners have just released a new report that may help LGBT older adults’ programs target their health promotion efforts.

“Enhancing Use of Clinical Preventive Services Among Older Adults – Closing the Gap” looks at 15 key preventive and screening procedures that are recommended for older adults.  For eight procedures, state or national data is presented on how many older adults do and don’t receive the procedure, sometimes including state-by-state analyses and/or data on certain subpopulations.   (While the report mentions there are health disparities by demographic groups, including “sexual orientation,” it does not report on any of the studies that have looked specifically at LGBT older adults and their access to health care.)   The eight featured preventive services are: vaccinations that protect against influenza and pneumococcal disease; five screenings for early detection of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, lipid disorders, and osteoporosis; and one counseling service for smoking cessation.  Data wasn’t available to provide similar analyses of the remaining 7 recommended procedures: alcohol misuse screening and counseling, aspirin use, blood pressure screening, cervical cancer screening, depression screening, obesity screening and counseling, and zoster vaccination.

The report also includes some brief profiles of programs that have successfully increased older adults’ use of these key preventive and screening procedures; these may provide ideas to LGBT older adult programs that would like to undertake more health promotion activities.

You can download the whole 40-page report at

“Judgments that Silence, Stereotypes that Shame, and Assumptions that Erase”

In 1979 at San Francisco State University, I taught a student-initiated course in Bisexuality, perhaps the first in the nation.

Thirty-two years later, bisexuals remain nearly as invisible as we were then.  For instance, did you know that multiple surveys have found that bisexuals make up the largest group under the LGBT umbrella?  A 2010 nationally representative probability sample (the most reliable type of study for this kind of data) found that 3.1% identified as bisexual, compared to 2.5% who identified as lesbian or gay.  Women are more likely to identify as bisexual than men are, and younger people are far more likely to claim a bisexual (or “fluid” or “non-monosexual”) identity.  That same study found that 4.9% of “adolescents” identified as bisexual, compared to 1% who identified as lesbian or gay.  Looking at attractions rather than sexual orientation identities, another national study found that about 13% of women and 6% of men reported attractions to both women and men. Continue reading