Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Getting Old While Trans

Let’s face it we all are getting old, it is something we dread but it is sure better than the alterative, however if you are trans it faces a whole new set of challenges.
Fighting loneliness, finding companionship for California’s elderly
Lake County Record Bee
By Sammy Caiola
May 15, 2019

“You ain’t lived till you been caught up by the police for being a queer.”

Red Jordan Arobateau leans back from the lunch table and props his cane against it. The 75-year-old is dining with a crew of transgender seniors that get together once a month. Today they’re trading war stories.

Rafi Simanton says he was arrested three times as a political activist in the ’90s.

For Felicia Elizondo, that’s small potatoes. She’s been fighting alongside other trans women since the Compton’s Cafeteria riot in San Francisco in 1966, three years before the better known police brawl at the Stonewall Inn, a club catering to the LGBT community in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

Andrea Horne, another diner, weighs in from the far end of the table, “It was trans women of color that started the whole (expletive),” she says. “There would be no LGBT without us.”

They’re at Openhouse, a subsidized apartment building in the historically queer Haight district. It’s one of California’s few rental options explicitly for older LGBT adults.
Senior living is something that most of us will need in the future but as a member of a marginalized community we wonder how we will be treated by the staff and other residents.
National LGBT Housing Initiative

We’re making sure there’s a place for you
One of the most important decisions we make as older adults is where we’re going to live during our senior years. For all older adults, affordability is often a challenge. For LGBT older adults, so is finding a place that’s welcoming—where we can feel free to be ourselves and be treated respectfully and compassionately.

With our National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative, we’re addressing these challenges on several fronts by:
  • Building LGBT-friendly housing in New York City
  • Advocating nationally against housing discrimination
  • Training eldercare providers to be LGBT culturally competent
  • Educating you about your housing rights
Helping builders across the U.S. replicate LGBT-friendly housing
Okay that is all well and good but trans people make up an estimated 0.5 percent of the population and gays and lesbians make up around 5 percent and another important demographic is that 71% of the LGBT population do not have children.

According to the Williams Institute about 4 percent of the people in Connecticut are LGBT and Connecticut population is around 3.5 million people which means there are about 140,000 LGBT people in Connecticut and which means 17,000 trans people spread out over the state. However if you just look at the estimated number of trans people over 65 it turns out that there might be only 85 of us and that is the kicker so there will be probably on about a dozen trans people living in senior living centers.

Compare Connecticut with New York City with a population of 8.6 million and you can see that a trans senior living center here in Connecticut is not feasible.

So what does that mean for us senior trans people here in Connecticut?

Well it means if you have to live in a senior living center you might be the only trans person in the facility.

So what does that mean for trans people like me? What protections will be offered us? 

If you navigate through the state website you will eventually end up on the Long-Term Care  Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) and half way down the page you will find a link to Residents’ Rights and the LGBT Community, following that link to Residents’ Rights and the LGBT Community: Know YOUR Rights as a Nursing Home Resident.

The LTCOP has a “Inclusive Community Workgroup” working to make sure that we have a safe and comprehensive policy in place for us and the greater LGBTQ+ population. I sit on the committee and one of my goals  is to make sure we are not left out of any policies or training that comes out of the committee, and by trans I mean the umbrella definition not just for those who have transitioned but also genderqueer, non-binary, crossdressers, and drag queens and kings.

I also want to make sure that when we invite care givers into our homes that we feel safe. There is an initiative by Connecticut Community Care called Getting it Right: Creating an LGBT Inclusive Organization* which is training its staff; “The program works with aging service providers such as home care and facility-based providers to create welcoming and intentionally inclusive services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) clients and families.” In addition SAGE offers training.

So hopefully by the time you retire and need senior living there will be safeguards in place for us and the greater LGBT population. However, I do not expect a dedicated LGBT living center here in the state.

*I am on a committee that help organized the GIR program.

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