A new guide has been released that gives California’s LGBT elders a comprehensive overview of their rights and the services available to them.
The guide, called “Navigating the System: A Know-Your-Rights Guide for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders in California,” was authored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lavender Seniors of the East Bay, Transgender Law Center, Openhouse, and Planning for Elders in the Central City. It is a reaction to a number of surveys suggesting that LGBT elders, when compared to their heterosexual counterparts, are more likely to face discrimination, be low-income and live in poverty.
The 61-page guide offers a wide range of resources that will enable the state’s LGBT elders to:
- Know California’s anti-discrimination laws
- Find LGBT-friendly housing and service providers
- Effectively address discrimination or mistreatment
- Understand how relationship recognition laws affect benefits
- Navigate the unique challenges that confront transgender elders
- Understand how to protect their families and choices with life-planning documents
- Identify available benefits, particularly for people with disabilities
NCLR Elder Law Fellow Daniel Redman stresses in a press release about the publication that the guide, put together with the help of the LGBT elder community, is about empowering the elder community to know and understand the legal landscape of the state:
“The result is a publication that all LGBT elders–including those who are among the most marginalized in our aging community–can use to better understand their rights, to assert those rights in a variety of elder care contexts, and to more easily navigate the complex systems that they face everyday … We have a responsibility to care for aging members of our community, ensuring that they have access to resources and services that will allow them to live with dignity and respect, completely free of discrimination and mistreatment.”
LGBT people–and elders in particular–are also more likely to struggle financially than their straight peers, with same-sex elder male couples more likely to live in poverty, and same-sex elder female couples twice as likely. In fact, a San Francisco study found that almost 62 percent of gay men and lesbians aged 60 and older earned less than $39,000, including over 42 percent who earned less than $26,000. Transgender elders, in particular–because of ongoing and systemic discrimination–experience poverty at extraordinary rates.
“Many seniors and their families are in great need of assistance with navigating the difficult and confusing system of government social services especially during this time of so many budget cuts. Lavender Seniors is pleased that NCLR is addressing this issue with ‘Navigating the System,’ ” said Lavender Seniors of the East Bay Director Dan Ashbrook.
To find out more about the guide or to read it in full, please click here.