Monthly Archives: April 2011

Department of Labor Protects Transgender Employees

Its employees represent only a small proportion of the U.S. labor force, but when it comes to symbolism, probably no agency can set a better non-discrimination standard than the U.S. Department of Labor.

And that’s what DOL Secretary Hilda Solis did this month when she announced that, as part of her commitment to have a “model workplace, free from unlawful discrimination and harassment, which fosters a work environment that fully utilizes the capabilities of every employee,” DOL was adding gender identity (and pregnancy) to its list of protected classes.

Employment discrimination is very much related to aging issues, as retirement income is almost solely based on how much earned income people are able to command during their working lives.  If young and middle-aged transgender adults are discriminated against in the workplace and hence command lower salaries than they otherwise would, this discrimination will follow them the rest of their lives, resulting in lower pensions and Social Security benefits.  And as the recent national Transgender Discrimination Study ( documents, employment discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming workers is rampant.

This action is but one more in a long series of ground-breaking steps the Obama Administration has taken to advance LGBT rights wherever that can be done without Congressional approval.  You can read Secretary Solis’s statement at

The High Price of Being a Gay Couple

Exactly how much would a Lesbian or Gay couple lose over their lifetimes, given current discriminatory laws and benefits? 

The New York Times found out the answer isn’t simple.  They created scenarios in which Lesbian couples and Gay male couples had two children (with one partner staying home to care for the children for five years), made $140,000 a year, lived in New York, California, or Florida, were together for 46 years, and in which the first partner died at age 81.  They further looked at income variables through two scenarios: in one, both made the same amount; in the other couple, one person made $110,000 and the other, $30,000. Continue reading

Stonewall Uprising Online

Part of being “culturally competent” when it comes to LGBT elders is understanding what we’ve lived through, and how it’s shaped us.  PBS has put its 1-1/2 hour “American Experience: Stonewall Uprising” online, where you can watch it for free.

New Article Addresses LGBT Older Adults’ Mental Health

A reporter from the Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalist has just published an article on older LGBTs and mental health.

The report focuses on Chicago and highlights the Center on Halsted’s SAGE program, the Valeo unit for LGBT patients at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital (a psychiatric facility), and Chicago Prime Timers.  It’s available at

Making the Older Americans Act Work for Us

It’s not as well-known as Medicare and Social Security, but the Older Americans Act (OAA) is nearly as important to older adults in the U.S.

The OAA – which will be reauthorized by Congress this year, which means now is the time that changes and improvements can be made – organizes and funds many of the public programs that support older adults.  Meals programs, senior centers, long-term care ombudsmen, caregiver support, employment programs, health promotion programs, in-home care, and much, much more come under the OAA umbrella.  Structurally, the OAA funds the U.S. Administration on Aging, which funds the State Units on Aging, which fund the local Area Agencies on Aging, which provide or contract for the wide array of community-based services older adults use. Continue reading

Counting Us In: The Williams Institute

This week the Williams Institute – an LGBT think tank located at UCLA’s law school — celebrated its 10th anniversary and released a brilliant public relations piece subtitled, “We thought we’d celebrate by sharing 10 things that over a decade of our research has shown about LGBT people and issues.”

Not all of the data they cite is particularly helpful or noncontroversial – the statement that the rate of hate crimes against LGBT people is no higher than that against other protected minorities stuck out for me in part because a Southern Poverty Law Center analysis said the opposite (that given the proportion of the population we make up, we’re actually the most likely group to suffer hate crimes) – but some definitely is.  It’s the Williams Institute that gave us such data as 1 in 4 LGBT people are people of color, and same-sex couples were identified in 99% of U.S. counties during the 2000 Census.  It’s also the Williams Institute that calculated Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell cost taxpayers $500 million, and that found that counter to stereotypes, LGBT people are not more affluent than our non-LGBT counterparts.

Lately the Williams Institute has issued a series of state-specific analyses, so if you need data on LGBT people for your public education efforts or funding proposals, make sure you check them out at

(Full disclosure:  my organization FORGE recently partnered with Williams Institute in a research proposal to the National Institute of Justice.)

LGBT Older Adults in Long-Term Care Facilities

What are LGBT older adults experiencing in long-term (LTC) care facilities?  That was the question asked by a coalition of LGBT and/or aging organizations in a national survey answered by 769 people, 284 of them LGBT older adults. Continue reading

How Many of Us Are There? New Jersey, Florida, and Texas

People always want data, especially from those who write funding proposals or suggest new programs.  When it comes to the LGBT population, those numbers have been difficult to discern.  A new Williams Institute brief provide a new look at this lingering question.

According to this new analysis, which averages the results of 5 U.S. studies, New Jersey is about the size of U.S. residents who claim the labels of LGB or T: about 9 million, or 3.5% for LGB and .3% (about 700,000) for T.  Continue reading

HHS Announces LGBT Agenda

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week responded to a mandate by President Obama to “explore additional steps HHS could take to improve the lives of LGBT people.”  The mandate had been part of President Obama’s Presidential Memorandum on Hospital Visitation, which he issued last April.

“For too long, LGBT people have been denied the compassionate services they deserve,” the statement begins.  “That is now changing.  HHS continues to make significant progress toward protecting the rights of every American to access quality care, recognizing that diverse populations have distinctive needs.  Safeguarding the health and well-being of all Americans requires a commitment to treating all people with respect while being sensitive to their differences.”  Continue reading