Monthly Archives: May 2012

Western Massachusetts LGBT People Wanted

The Sexual Minority Archives, “a national collection of LGBT literature, history, and art,” has announced two new oral history projects aimed at LGBT individuals who live in Western Massachusetts.

The year-long projects focus on transgender people of any age for Trans Stories: Breaking the Silence and LGBT people age 55+ for LGBT Elders Speak Out.   “The lives of our LGBT people, our relationships and families, and our work with groups and organizations often go undocumented and unstudied,” said Bet Power, Executive Director of the Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation, Inc. and Director/Curator of the Sexual Minorities Archives (SMA).  “Whether an LGBT person has been part of a major event or community organization or has stories to tell about everyday life, the mission of the SMA is to record, preserve, and make accessible the historical narratives of our lives.  We can help shape a queer people’s history of information that is too often omitted from mainstream libraries and academic archives.”

Oral history interviews will be conducted at the Sexual Minorities Archives in Northampton or in participants’ homes.  Participants may specify the level of privacy or accessibility they wish for their interview as it is added to the media collection at the SMA, and participants will receive both a videotape and transcript of their interview.

For more information, email Brittni Hayes regarding Trans Stories: Breaking the Silence or Samuel Belmonte regarding LGBT Elders Speak Out at sexualminorities [dot] archives [at] yahoo [dot] com, or call Bet Power at 413-584-7616.

Health Disparities Multiplied

Do you know what a health disparity is?  How about health equity? 

Simply put, a health disparity is the poorer health one group has compared to another.  LGBT people have more depression and anxiety than non-LGBT people, when you compare the groups’ averages.  African-Americans and Latin@s are far more likely than white people to contract HIV/AIDS.  An important aspect of health disparities is that “[f]or people who belong to mulitple communities that experience health disparities, these disparities do not simply add up: They multiply.”  Thus, African-American LGBT people, on average, have poorer health than either white LGBT people or African-Americans who aren’t LGBT. 

Health equity is the opposite concept: rather than focusing on the differences, health equity focuses on where we want to be: attaining the highest level of health for all people.  A good short article on these concepts, with multiple links, is available at

A Story of Transgender Medical Care

What happens when you’re transgender and living in the middle of rural America and need specialized medical care?

The patient at the center of this story is only 20 years old, but his story, written up in The Daily Iowan on April 4, 2012, is instructive.  Like many transgender people — one study says the figure is 50% — he had to educate his health care providers about transgender health care.  Luckily, it worked.  Not only did he eventually get the health care he needed, but activism by him and his colleagues is beginning to change the climate in Iowa City.  For a more recent story that indicates there are still problems — but also that even more efforts are underway to correct them — see the Iowa City Patch article here.

Philadelphia LGBT Elder Housing Moves Forward

The White House itself rang congratulatory bells last month when the Philadelphia Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) committed to helping fund a new public-private housing initiative in Philadelphia targeted to LGBT elders.

The project, which is to be built on Philadelphia’s 13th Street, between Locust and Spruce, is expected to have 6 stories and 56 bedrooms.  It will be available to those who are aged 62 and older who earn less than 60% of the Philadelphia median income.  $11 million of the necessary $19 million price tag has now been secured.

The White House memo on the financing, available at, notes that “Under this Administration, [the Housing and Urban Development Department] has been a leader in advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, and has treated the fight for equality not as an issue, but as a priority.”  The memo ends with this memorable line: “And HUD will continute to take an active role in ensuring that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community not only has a seat at the table — but also a place to call home.”

Stand With Alice

Looking for a quick video that makes the case for Social Security survivor benefits for same-sex couples?  Alice might be who you’re looking for.

Alice Herman, age 76, was interviewed by ABC News on the day President Obama announced his support of same-sex marriage.  In the video, which includes many pictures of her 45 years with her late spouse, she talks about the pain of being denied Social Secuirty death benefits for her.  The video is available at

Data on Black Gay and Transgender Americans

They forgot to mention that Black Gay and Transgender Americans grow old, but otherwise the new Center for American Progress report, “Jumping Beyond the Broom: Why Black Gay and Transgender Americans Need More Than Marriage Equality” is a must-have for those who want a more complete picture of our LGBT community.

 Beyond the Broom “aim(s) to establish a common understanding and knowledge bank of the data and policy research on black gay and transgender people since no consolidated inventory of literature or data on the population’s issues currently exists.”  Relying primarily on four large studies – each annotated at length – the report notes that “much of the academic research and data gathered on black gay and transgender populations is framed in disparities, victimization, and hardship.”  There are lengthy passages on what’s happening to Black gay and transgender youth, and some data on health disparities and family structures. 

The 48-page report is available for download at no cost at

Profile of Colorado Elders

In one of the most interesting such human-interest stories I’ve seen, OutFront Colorado this month published a front-cover article profiling four Colorado elders: Pat Barrington, 77; Dennis Dougherty, 69; Bobby Gates, 71; and Corky Blankenship, 67. Continue reading

Obstetricians-Gynecologists Address Transgender Care, Aging

Unless you are very well-connected to the transgender community, you may not be aware that we’re in the midst of a tsunami of policy and practice changes designed to stop new discriminatory treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming people and to begin to address the health disparities caused by past anti-trans discrimination and violence. Continue reading

Argentina Leads the Continent

Argentina isn’t usually thought of as the continent’s most progressive country, but it took a huge step forward in transgender rights this month when it mandated public and private health care plans to provide, at no additional cost, hormones and surgery to transgender people upon demand.

The new law, which was approved by the Senate by a vote of 55-0 (with 11 abstentions or “absences”), also allows adults to officially change their gender on various documents without first obtaining medical treatment or “permission,” a vast improvement over U.S. policies.  Even children are allowed to change their genders without parental approval.  The Washington Post pointed out that the new rules means that “these changes can be more benign and even reversible, if some day the person’s self-image changes.”

Argentina was also the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage two years ago.

680 Pages of Documented Discrimination

Need data to back up your advocacy for employment non-discrimination legislation for LGBT workers?  Six hundred and eighty pages of it has been compiled into a new docuemnt available at

The compilation, put together by the Williams Institute, the Human Rights Campaign, and Center for American Progress, groups the documents into six categories:  employment discrimination and the LGBT workforce; the business case for LGBT workplace protections; public opinion and political support for equal opportunity; impact and legal issues regarding an LGBT nondiscrimination executive order; and miscellaneous.  The first category contains only one document, a policy memo (inexplicably still labeled “Confidential — not for circulation”) making the case for why President Obama should issue an Executive Order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.

Although none of the documents’ titles indicate they cover how employment discrimination leads to income dispararities and physical, social, and emotional problems in old age, there is obviously a clear link that can (and should) be made.  Please let us at GrayPrideParade know if you know of documents that discuss the linkages.