New Legal Guide For California’s LGBT Elders


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.”

Surveys suggest that a majority of LGBT elders fear facing discrimination in long-term care facilities. More from the press release:

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.


Related Reading:

LGBT Elders Fear Abuse in Long-Term Care Facilities Says New Report

HHS: DOMA Not an Excuse for Denial of Equality in LGBT Elder Medicaid Care

HHS Plans to Collect LGBT Health Data

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Borya.


Winn Adams
Winn Adams6 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Jane H.
Jane H6 years ago

In my town, Elder Agencies are learning form the gay community how to be sensitive to this population. And @ Past Member---I do not think gay elderly people are more sexually active than straight elderly people.

jayasri amma
jayasri amma6 years ago

good idea

Nina Anghel
Nina Anghel6 years ago

good idea

Marianne C.
Marianne C6 years ago

I think it's a good idea for all seniors to know what services are available to them, especially those that allow them to continue to live independently. Many seniors don't have children or grandchildren living close enough to look out for them.

Cathryn C.
Cathryn C6 years ago

It is wonderful that this is being doen in california, but it is something that needs to be done across the Nation and NOT just for the LGBT communities. The majority of those who are recieving social security who did not earn over 45K a year and had their pensions siphoned off by Greedy Corporations are living on 12K a year. They do not know what services or help is available and Gods forbid they end up in a nursing home, they will have nothing left no matter what they scrimped, saved and worked for in their lives. No this is needed...for all of us.

Allan Yorkowitz
.6 years ago

Sadly, although I never considered this, It does need to be done.

Valarie Snell
Valarie Snell6 years ago

good idea

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago


Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

good grief, all these 'top' moments, give me a break. elderly gays, don't want that image in my head, old men buggering each other up their incontient, saggy poop chutes, and old grannies going at it with smelly old vag's. pass me a bucket, quick....too late!!!1