Monthly Archives: July 2013

An Ally’s Guide to LGBT Issues

Ally's GuideTomorrow the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is scheduled to take up — and expected to send on to the full Senate — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a long-pending bill that would outlaw employment discrimination against LGBT people.

In honor of this new ENDA push, we dusted off our copy of “An Ally’s Guide to Issues Facing LGBT Americans,” a guide that was collaboratively produced by a number of LGBT organizations.  It addresses what some would call “The Gay Agenda,” giving data and background on the following LGBT wish list: Continue reading

Eight LG Couples Together 30-42 Years

Yohei Yamamoto and Bill HansonWhat was it like to live as a committed gay or lesbian couple in the 80s and beyond, before all the recent LGBT advances?

That’s the premise behind a new LGBT Weekly article, “LGBT Seniors: Looking Back at the ‘Good Old Days’.”  Eight same-sex couples together between 30 and 42 years were interviewed.  The article, which also includes pictures of five of the couples, can be found at

Bathroom Politics

public-restroomsEveryone needs them, which may be why they have been the site of so many pitched political battles:  bathrooms.

Interestingly, the battles usually revolve around “safety.”  When some people wanted human races kept separate, they argued that blacks and whites had different germs and/or hygiene practices, and that having them use the same facilities would lead to the spread of disease.  Now the argument for segregation seems to revolve around women’s “safety,” which apparently is assured by never, ever allowing an adult male to use the same facilities.

Any segregation, of course, involves formal and/or informal policing, and the forced assignment of people into distinctly separate categories.  That’s why the simple right of transgender people to pee in facilities built specifically for that purpose has so often been challenged or denied: if men have to be kept out of women’s bathrooms, then we have to determine who a man is.  Apparently, that cannot be decided by the person him- or herself; instead, something else — a body part, a government identity document, manner of dress or appearance — is the determinant.  Or so the lawsuits, arrests, and civilian bathroom-rules-enforcers insist.

As society battles out these issues over who is safe and who isn’t and who is allowed to “go” where, though, real casualties mount.  Actual people get hurt.  A new study recently released by The Williams Institute begins to quantify the damage: it reports that in a survey of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Washington, D.C., 70% reported having been denied access, verbally harassed, or physically assaulted in public restrooms.  The damage didn’t stop there: many of these victims reported negative ramifications of bathroom denial or abuse on their education, their employment, their health, and their participation in public life.  You can read more about it at


LGBT Cancer Survivors

rainbow ribbon“Cancer doesn’t discriminate, but the healthcare system often does….”

So starts the conclusion of a new report, “LGBT Patient-Centered Outcomes:
Cancer Survivors Teach Us How to Improve Care for All,” issued by the National LGBT Cancer Network and the Network for LGBT Health Equity. Continue reading

NIH Seeks Input on LGBTI Health

LGBT-Health-Awareness-WeekS1H3_week_1911Leading LGBTI health researcher Dr. Scout this week publicized a meeting and ground-breaking opportunity related to the health of US-based LGBTI people.

In his Huffington Post article, Scout noted that at a recent meeting of activists with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIH announced three pieces of good news:  1)  They have added gender identity to their nondiscrimination protections, 2) They now have a staffer whose job is to recruit more LGBTI staff to work at NIH, and 3) They have issued a formal Request for Information.

It’s that Request for Information that is particularly important, as it represents our chance to give input to the federal government about our health.  Scout says, “Simply put, this is the health version of the Supreme Court saying, ‘So what do you think we should do about gay marriage?'”  He urges people to use the online form at

He recommends skipping the first (methodological) question and using the other comments fields “to speak up about poor treatment you’ve had by providers and suggest research into interventions that can change that too-common phenomenon.  Or maybe you want information on our cancer disparities, what (if any) risks there are with long-term hormone use, interventions that can help stop youth suicide, why bisexual people report higher health disparities…. Or maybe you want to tender a few pointed ideas on training providers or supporting new researchers, or how NIH can get practical health information out to us….”

The Huffington Post article is available at

The formal NIH description of the project is at

Australia Gets Transgender Aged Care Specialist

LGBT-flag-map-of-AustraliaAs part of the Australian government’s effort to ensure its Living Longer Living Better aged care reform plan reaches everyone, funding has been provided to the Gender Centre Incorporated to hire a Transgender Aged Care Specialist Support Officer.

The new position will focus on “front line crisis management, psycho-social and community support,” training, and providing referrals.  It is part of the government’s National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy.  You can read more at

ElderTG Members in Long Feature Article

Robyn and Emery1As you may or may not know, is sponsored by FORGE, which also sponsors the Transgender Aging Network and our now 15-year-old peer support listserve for trans people age 50+, ElderTG.

Two of our most illustrious ElderTG members, Robyn and Emery Walters, are the stars of a long feature article in the most recent edition of The Gay & Lesbian Review.  Check out their pre- and post-transition pictures and life stories in, “Portrait of a Transgender Marriage,” at

If you are interested in subscribing to ElderTG or to our sister listserve for professionals and others who are interested in transgender aging issues, email LoreeCD [at] aol [dot] com

Married LGBT Federal Retirees Need to Act

federal-retirementDominoes continue to fall as a result of last week’s Supreme Court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, with one of the latest being a memo from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that has great relevance to federal retirees who have a legal marriage.

The 6/28/2013 memo, available at, is entitled, “Guidance on the Extension of Benefits to Married Gay and Lesbian Federal Employees, Annuitants, and Their Families.”

Of critical importance are the following two deadlines.

Annuitants (and employees) have only until August 26, 2013, to add their spouses to their health insurance under the FEHB program.  (Other additions can be made during annual Open Seasons.)

Annuitants have until June 26, 2015 to inform the Office of Personnel Management “that they have a legal marriage that now qualifies for recognition and elect any changes to their retirement benefits based on their recognized marital status.”  OPM will be issuing further guidance to help retirees figure out if this change makes financial sense for their situation, since providing benefits to a surviving spouse “will likely result in a deduction to the monthly annuity that the retiree currently receives.”