Alexis Martinez (left) worried that coming out to daughter Lesley as transgender would mean giving up any relationship with her grandchildren. But she needn’t have worried.
Alexis Martinez grew up in a rough neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side in the early 1960s. She knew she was transgender from an early age.Alexis (whose birth name is Arthur) struggled with her identity, as did her family. At 13, she came out as transgender to her mother. Alexis’ mother called the police, who laughed and told her, “You’ve got a fag for a son, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
As a result, Alexis joined a gang and “went as macho as [she] could be, to mask what [she] really was underneath.”
Alexis has a daughter, who accepts her for who she is. Says her daughter Lesley: “You don’t have to apologize. You don’t have to tiptoe. We’re not going to cut you off. And that is something that I’ve always wanted you to, you know, just know—that you’re loved.” Read More
Over the past several months, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) has conducted focus groups to learn about what Hispanic older adults and caregivers know about Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We found that people have a wide variety of beliefs about what causes the condition and how to prevent it. We also heard the insights of caregivers for people with AD. While there is no known cure or prevention measure for AD, caregivers can pass on advice and teach other caregivers how to cope with the stress of providing care.
”I would have her tested to be able to help her better, and have a better life for me and all of those who live at home.”
“The doctor told me that she didn’t have Alzheimer’s-she said, who was I to tell her that? After examining her, the doctor admitted that she had early signs of Alzheimer’s.”
“For those of us who love our family members, I believe we have to give them a hand, take them to a doctor, have tests done-because in its early stages, maybe life is better for those who take care of them.” Read More
The elder population is growing exponentially, and becoming increasingly diverse. Today, one in five older adults is Latino or non-White, and there are at least 1.75 million lesbian, gay, and bisexual people 65 and older.By 2030, the number of adults of color is projected to be almost one in three, and the population of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals is expected to double. Older immigrants and diverse elders are more vulnerable, isolated and face greater barriers to accessing services than the general older adult population. As such, immigration reform presents a key opportunity to strengthen our programs and policies to better support older immigrants.
The DEC stands in support of the following principles, in support of inclusive immigration reform: Read More
April is National Minority Health Month and today’s post brings attention to the health disparities faced by LGBT older adults of color. The Diverse Elders Coalition’s member organization SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) today released a new policy report ”Health Equity and LGBT Elders of Color.” The report can be downloaded here.
Read my recent editorial in The Huffington Post about health equity for LGBT elders of color. You can also read it on the SAGE Blog.
Screenshot of SAGE’s new policy report
The Latino community is united in wanting to fix our nation’s broken immigration policies. Without a doubt, immigration is a galvanizing issue for the nation’s Hispanics, 75% of whom are United States citizens. The toxic rhetoric on immigration has affected us deeply, and that is why Latino voters last November generated a game-changing moment for this debate, giving us an opportunity to arrive at a solution. Our community is engaged and watching this debate closely. It matters not only to voters today, but it stands to shape the views of the nearly 900,000 Latino citizens who will turn 18 each year between now and 2028. This is an issue that impacts us, our families and our neighbors. Our immigration, asylum and naturalization laws must respect the dignity of the individual, reflect our nation’s commitment to human and civil rights and deny state and local encroachment into this federal arena.
Older adult at NHCOA’s National Annual Conference
During the past decade, there have been several attempts to tackle comprehensive immigration reform. While legislation is set to emerge in the next couple of months, we at NHCOA urge our leaders to be a beacon of hope for fair immigration reform, for our older adults expect nothing less. Indeed, immigration reform is one of the top three concerns for Hispanic older adults today. We stand at the cusp of a unique opportunity to uphold a key American value – ensuring opportunity for all to reach the American dream. Read More
How my dad supported his gay son
There was a time in my life, around 11 years old, when I often skipped school because I was being bullied and harassed. It was obvious to my classmates that I was “different” and they targeted me because of it. At lunch, there was a boys table and a girls table, but I was relegated to the “other” table.
I hated waking up for school. Sometimes I would put my head over the toaster to create a “fever” and ask my mother if I could stay home. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Those days that it didn’t, I would put on my uniform, grab my lunch and deliberately slam the front door to our apartment. The loud noise signified to my parents that I was on my way to school.
What I really did was tip toe back to my bedroom and hide in the closet. Inside, I would carefully listen for my family to leave for the day. Once they were gone, I would breathe a huge sigh of relief as it meant I could turn on the TV and relax—I was free from my bullies!
One Monday, the school administration called my mother to inquire why I hadn’t been attending. It just so happened my father was home that day and my mother demanded that he check to see if I was there. As he called my name, my heart was pounding and I put my hand over my mouth to hide my breath as I hid in the closet. Read More
The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) is an advocacy and education coalition made up of five national organizations representing millions of elders of color and LGBT elders around the country. The DEC focuses on strengthening policies and programs to enhance the health and well-being of diverse elders, educating and connecting our older people and their loved ones to key policy debates on aging, and increasing public support for issues that affect our communities. The coalition includes: the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, the National Hispanic Council on Aging, the National Indian Council on Aging, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. Read More
Effective outreach begins with a plan and developing a plan requires research. Yet, anyone trying to develop an outreach plan for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Latinos can quickly feel as if he or she is hitting one brick wall after another—there is simply a lack of resources dedicated to this community. Sure, you may be able to find strategies on how-to engage seniors, LGBT youth or the Latino population at large, but these strategies do not speak to the unique experiences and challenges faced by older LGBT Latinos.
For those of you whose organizations are trying to better engage this community, you may simply need a place to start. You may wonder, “What are the most effective outreach techniques to reach Older LGBT Latinos?” As the former Outreach Coordinator for SAGE Harlem (a program for LGBT older adults serving a significant Latino population), I have asked myself the same question. Through trial and error, I have been able to identify the top ten considerations for working with the diversity of older LGBT Latinos.
SEARAC provides technical assistance to a number of Burmese and Bhutanese community organizations in the US to build strong, local ethnic community-based organizations and faith-based organizations. For this blog post, we interviewed Chum Awi, a key leader and elder in the Chin community, an ethnic minority from Burma. Chum is based out of Lewisville, Texas and works with the Chin Community of Lewisville. Read More
Last week, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO ) introduced a bill that could improve supports for millions of LGBT elders through the Older Americans Act. SAGE has been working on this issue for almost three years — from raising awareness and producing policy reports, to hosting Congressional briefings and securing support from the influential Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, to working closely with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and various aging groups in DC.
Read my recent editorial in The Huffington Post about this bill’s importance to LGBT elders. Read More
There are many services and supports for older adults available at no cost. Things like home delivered meals, transportation services, and benefits counseling all help older adults live in their own homes and communities and age in dignity. The Older Americans Act (OAA) is the law that provides these services and supports and creates the nation’s infrastructure for aging. It is an invaluable law that helps millions of people each year. Despite the law’s successes and importance, it faces deep budget cuts and is becoming outdated. Read More
In anticipation of Grandparents Day, which is September 9, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center is celebrating elders through our “Grandparent Wisdom Project.” In recognition of the wonderful contribution of grandparents—and all elders—to our families and communities, we are asking individuals to submit photos of important elders in their lives and share with us what their elders have taught them.
BY SCOTT PECK, DIRECTOR OF POLICY, NATIONAL ASIAN PACIFIC CENTER ON AGING
One of the most difficult challenges of low-income AAPI elders is the ability to access programs and services designed for their specific needs. Critical is the ability to access in-language assistance to elders who are limited-English-proficient (LEP). Limited English proficiency has profound effects on AAPI elders to access essential services and understand their rights and obligations.
A 2007 study conducted by the National Senior Citizens Law Center found that foreign language translators that assist with health plan inquiries, as required of health plan sponsors by law, were only able to serve limited English proficient AAPI beneficiaries in their primary language 37% of the time
Harlem is undoubtedly one of the most well-known African-American neighborhoods in NYC and the nation. Part of its rich history includes the Harlem Renaissance, a literary movement celebrating black cultural identity in the 1920s and 30’s. It is also home to the Apollo Theatre, a cultural landmark that has hosted influential black icons and leaders such as President Barack Obama, Chaka Khan and Michael Jackson. What might not be as well-known, however, is that there are a number of local black and gay-owned businesses in the community such as Harlem Flo and Billie’s Black, showcasing that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people exist in Harlem.
There is also a significant aging community. One in three Harlem residents are age 50 and older, according to 2006 estimates from The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. And as an outreach coordinator for SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), I also know well that a significant number of these older adults are LGBT.
BY FAY GORDON, NATIONAL SENIOR CITIZENS LAW CENTER
On June 28, I joined 1.7 million anxious SCOTUSblog followers, and held my breath until 10:09 a.m. when the words “the individual mandate survives as a tax” appeared on the screen. Cue the applause in the office — health care reform survived!
While we celebrated, I thought of the seniors benefitting from health care reform. Unlike the lawyers and wonks, they were not rushing to print copies of the opinion, or feverishly e-mailing colleagues. They likely carried on with their Thursday morning-working and taking care of families and grandchildren. In a flashback to the 2010 health care debate, the law’s tremendous improvements for seniors was largely ignored amid the squawking about Obamacare, penalties and taxes. Once again, seniors run the risk of misinformation and myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is an ideal time to reflect on the ACA’s positive changes: