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Daylight News The Issues

Everything to Know About LGBTQ Domestic Violence

Along with being Halloween month, October recognizes something much more important. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). 

DVAM came to be in October 1987. Since then, it’s become an important annual reminder of just how pervasive intimate partner violence is — including in the LGBTQ community. It’s also an important time to bring awareness to the many resources available to survivors. 

Domestic violence in the queer community

Abusive partners, no matter what orientation, use common tactics to gain control over their partners. Even LGBTQ partners take advantage of societal barriers to gain control in abusive relationships.

Homophobia, transphobia and bi-phobia — external and internalized — add barriers for victims and survivors of domestic violence to seek help.

Nearly 85% of victim advocates surveyed by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reported having worked with an LGBTQ survivor who was denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Abusers may use the threat of outing their partner, their HIV status and public scrutiny to manipulate them.

One in 10 LGBTQ folks are survivors of intimate partner violence, many of whom have experienced sexual assault. HRC also reports that around 50% of bisexual people and transgender people have been sexually abused at one point in their lives.

The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that LGBTQ people are more at risk of violence, specifically intimate partner abuse and sexual violence, than non-LGBTQ people.

The numbers are disturbing:

  • Almost 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. 
  • 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. 

But domestic violence involves more than these physical actions we often think of. 

What is financial abuse?

Intimate partner violence, as defined by the CDC, is any “abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship.” This abuse can be sexual, physical, emotional and even financial; or any or all of these at once.

Many people don’t realize the dangers financial can pose. A study conducted by DomesticShelters.org discovered finances were the second most common barrier survivors faced when trying to leave an abusive situation. (The first was having nowhere to go.)

Financial abuse could look like:

  • Sabotaging employment opportunities.
  • Forbidding a partner from working.
  • Denying a partner direct access to bank accounts.
  • Setting an “allowance.”
  • Forcing a partner to write bad checks.
  • Running up large debts on joint accounts.
  • Withholding money for basic necessities.
  • Not letting you treat yourself, but they can.
  • Forcing a partner to work while they control the money.
  • Forcing a partner to turn over paychecks.
  • Forcing a partner to work in the family business without payment.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The reality can be wildly complex, and you might not even recognize abusive behavior as out of the norm.

Lesbian women and transgender people experience the highest levels of financial abuse, according to a report by Interventions Alliance.

Preparing to leave an abusive relationship

DomesticShelters.org recommends these steps to leave an abusive relationship safely and set yourself up for success once you leave:

  1. Gather documents to ensure access to everything you need, such as:
    • PIN codes
    • Passwords
    • Copies of credit reports.
    • Printouts of any financial records or bank accounts.
    • Birth certificates for yourself and your children.
    • Your driver’s license.
    • Your Social Security number
    • Tax records.
    • Passports
  1. Set up your own accounts on the down-low, and have information sent to a trusted friend or loved one.
  2. Stash away some cash soon and as secret as you can.
  3. Change beneficiaries as soon as possible to a trusted friend or loved on for your individual health insurance plan, life insurance, 401(k) or other retirement accounts.
  4. Make a budget that includes savings in your new account, so when you’re ready to leave, you have money to your name to cover living expenses.

Report domestic violence in the queer community

Despite the high numbers, we know the LGBTQ community is still underrepresented by domestic violence data — which means we’re underserved by domestic violence services.

The Interventions Alliance report suggests rates of under-reporting within the LGBTQ community are between 60% and 80%. That doesn’t mean it’s not happening. 

If you or a loved one is in peril or in need of help, here are some resources:

  • The Anti-Violence Project: AVP operates a free bilingual (English/Spanish), 24-hour, 365-day-a-year crisis intervention hotline. It’s staffed by trained volunteers, professional counselors and advocates to offer support to LGBTQ and HIV-affected victims and survivors of any type of violence. Call anytime: (212) 714-1141.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: Their 24-hour hotline number is (800) 799-7233.
  • Compensation Compass: As a survivor of domestic violence, you could be due compensation. This form from FreeFrom, an advocate against financial abuse for queer, trans, im/migrant and BIPOC survivors, helps you understand your options.
  • The Hotline offers multiple options to receive help, including its hotline at (800) 799-7233, live chat and text support by texting “START” to 88788.
  • Love is Respect offers a hotline at (866) 331-9474, live chat and text support by texting “LOVEIS” to 22522.
  • The LGBT National Help Center offers a plethora of options, including multiple hotlines, peer support and safe chatrooms.
  • The Network/La Red offers support through their toll-free hotline at (800) 832-1901.
  • The NW Network offers free and confidential support for “bi, trans, lesbian and gay survivors of abuse.”

No one deserves to experience abuse. We all deserve to be in a safe, happy and loving relationship. And remember that you deserve freedom, including financial freedom.

These are your rights, no matter your orientation or identity.

Delilah Gray is a freelance writer and business owner based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She’s been featured in Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Insider and POPSUGAR, to name a few.

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The Issues

Finding Euphoria through Social Transitions

Transitioning is the process of changing characteristics to align with gender identity, and it’s a highly personal and varied process. Transitioning can be social, medical or legal, or any or all three. 

Social transitioning is a process of changing your gender expression to better match your gender identity.

Transitioning socially can be such a euphoric process! It can include coming out as trans; using a new name and/or pronouns; exploring and playing with gender expression like clothing, hairstyles and mannerisms; and using gender-affirming shapewear like binders.

It’s OK to feel scared or not know what you want yet. Transitioning is a big life change and any feelings around it are valid. You don’t have to stick to a timeline, and there’s no right or wrong way to transition. 

This guide will share a few tips for transitioning socially, including some ways to save on gender-affirming clothing and shapewear.

Gender-affirming fashion

Fashion is a powerful form of self-expression. It can make you feel confident, comfortable and attractive.

Choosing clothing that feels best

While you figure out what feels best, think less about gendered articles of clothing and more about style. Take note of clothing on TV or in your day-to-day that attracts you, watch fashion-haul videos from creators whose styles you like and create Pinterest mood boards to help you think about how you want your wardrobe to look.

Both “men’s” and “women’s” sections in stores may have clothing that presents as  feminine and masculine, so if you’re comfortable, look through both to see what catches your eye.

Notice which parts of your body bring you euphoria or dysphoria to choose clothing that makes you feel best. For example, if you experience hip dysphoria, look for straight shorts that don’t curve around the hips. Or, if your legs are a great source of euphoria, find articles of clothing that highlight your legs.

Try on clothes and ask yourself how it feels to wear them. Does your outfit spark joy? Do you like how it fits on your body? Is it comfortable? Do you feel good wearing it?

If you feel nervous leaving the house wearing what you want, you can always start small. Wear an outfit at home to see how it feels, and slowly work up to the outside world. 

Save money on a new wardrobe

Getting a new wardrobe can be very expensive, but there are some simple ways to save.

A clothing exchange is a great way to get new looks and build community. Check your local LGBTQ center to see if it offers a community closet for the gender expansive community.

You can also organize an exchange with friends. That lets everyone get rid of clothing they no longer wear while getting new clothes.

Thrifting is another inexpensive way to explore a variety of styles. It is one of the most eco-friendly shopping method — and you can make fun of old styles of clothing while you shop! Some of the most unique finds come from thrifting.

What is shapewear?

Shapewear is a category of undergarments that helps change the appearance of your body shape. To relieve dysphoria, people looking to feminize their expression can use shaping camisoles and gaffs, and people looking to masculinize their expression can use things like binders, binding tape, and packers.

Shapewear is lifesaving. Trans and non-binary people ages 13 to 24 who have access to gender-affirming shapewear and binders attempt suicide at lower rates than those without access (14% and 26% respectively), according to the Trevor Project.

Safe binding practices

Please be mindful of your body if you use shapewear. Binding helps many people relieve dysphoria, but it can lead to permanent rib, back, muscle and lung damage when done unsafely. 

  • Don’t bind for longer than eight hours at a time. If you’re out all day, take binding breaks when possible.
  • If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort and can’t go without binding, wear an older or looser binder.
  • Never use ace bandages to bind. 
  • Use recommended oil-based solutions to remove KT tape to avoid skin irritation or blistering.
  • Never sleep with your binder on.
  • If possible, use two sports bras instead of a binder.
  • NEVER double bind, even if your binders are loose.
  • In hot weather, wear a half tank instead of the full. 

Save money with binder and shapewear giveaways

Some LGBTQ centers also take binder donations from people who no longer use them and run giveaways. Look into these organizations if you can’t afford binders or other gender-affirming shapewear.

  • Point of Pride offers both binders and tucking gaffs giveaways. 
  • Binder Drive provides binders to Black trans and gender non-conforming folks in the United States.
  • FtM Essentials provides binders for folks 24 and younger who can’t buy binders due to financial burdens.
  • The Binder Project gives away three binders at the beginning of each month.
  • Trans* Lounge has a binder exchange program for its members. Membership is free!

Choosing name(s) and pronoun(s)

If you’re struggling with choosing a new name, you’re not alone.

Choosing a new name can feel like such a permanent task — but you don’t have to use thee name you choose forever. Plenty of people go through multiple name changes.

For me, “Emme” is part of my journey, but not my final destination. Even though I don’t feel fully connected to it, it feels much better than my deadname, and it gives me more time to find a name that clicks. 

Free places to search for names

Some people find names by looking through baby name websites, searching for names based on meanings, and asking friends and family for their input. Others will take their given name and pull pieces from it. Some will even adopt the name of someone they admire. 

While you explore what feels best, you’re allowed to use different names and pronouns with different people. Is there someone you can test out a new name with?

Trans support groups are also a perfect space to try new names and pronouns. Check your local LGBTQ center to see if they have a group, or get plugged into a virtual space.

You’re in the driver’s seat of your life

There is no roadmap to transitioning, because everyone’s relationship with gender is different. Those who respect you will continue through this process with you.

For some gender-expansive people, passing — being assumed to be cisgender — is the goal. For others, it’s not. You have the autonomy to do what you want with your body and decide what being trans means for you.

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Daylight News The Issues

Homeownership, White Supremacy and the LGBTQ Community

One of the most common ways to build wealth in the United States is through homeownership. 

Unfortunately, communities of color, and Black families in particular, have been systemically prevented from buying homes in cities around the country. For decades, practices like redlining, racial steering, and racially restrictive covenants gave institutions and social networks the legal basis to discriminate against groups of potential homebuyers.

HOLC and Redlining

In response to the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the New Deal. 

Through this package of legislation, the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) was launched to help homeowners who’d defaulted on their mortgages. This is the era that brought the 30-year mortgage and low fixed interest rates that are still common today. 

In its first two years, borrowers received more than $3 billion in loans from HOLC. By 1937, HOLC owned more than 200,000 homes.

While these policies helped many Americans keep their homes, embedded racism has had lasting effects on BIPOC communities. 

Because borrowers were people who’d already defaulted on loans once, HOLC needed a way to ensure their reliability. In 1935, it launched the “City Survey Program.”. 

In collaboration with the federal government, lenders and real estate agents evaluated neighborhoods and documented their findings into color-coded maps based on perceived creditworthiness. In a dissertation, historian Andrew R. Highsmith explains:

  • Green neighborhoods were the best and mostly housed business people.
  • Blue neighborhoods were seen as good and primarily housed white-collar workers.
  • Yellow neighborhoods were seen as declining, usually due to a shifting of the makeup of the population.
  • Red neighborhoods had what the program called “detrimental influences.” This referred to housing conditions, proximity to environmental hazards and “infiltrations of lower grade population or different racial groups.” This is what we refer to as “redlining” today.

Each neighborhood got an area description that included common professions, conditions of the neighborhood, racial and ethnic makeup, and trends of “infiltration” or ways the area was “shifting” in terms of population makeup. 

Phrases like “racial hazards” and “subversive racial and social elements” were often used to describe communities of color. Even though redlining started in the 1930s, its effects are still pervasive today. The gap between white and Black homeownership is bigger now than it was when race-based discrimination against homebuyers was legal, according to the Urban Institute.

Federal Housing Administration

One year after HOLC launched, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created. 

Through private lenders, the FHA helped make affordable, long-term mortgage loans available for home construction and sale. If a borrower defaulted on their loan, the FHA would pay the bank, relieving the lender of any loan risks. Between 1934 and 1962, the  FHA and the later-formed Veterans Administration backed more than $120 billion worth of loans.

This was a great way for people to get into homes — but it didn’t work for everyone. 

The FHA included “racial provisions” in its underwriting manual to “protect” neighborhoods from the “infiltration” of business and industrial uses, lower-class occupancy and “inharmonious racial groups.”For almost 30 years, 98% of FHA loans were handed to white borrowers. 

Blockbusting and white flight

Alongside the lack of access to home loans through the government, BIPOC homebuyers were discriminated against in the private sector.

In a practice called blockbusting, real estate agents convinced white homeowners to sell their homes for well below their value, warning that Black families were moving into the neighborhood. They’d turn around and sell those properties to Black families for a higher price.

Often all an agent or property developer needed to do to instill fear in white homeowners was hire a Black woman to push a stroller around the neighborhood — the mere idea that Black families were living in the neighborhood pushed white homeowners to sell at decreased property values.

The practice, along with laws and Supreme Court rulings that outlawed racial segregation in housing, provoked an era of “white flight” in the mid-20th century. White families moved in droves from the cities into almost all white suburbs, creating the de facto segregation we still experience today. 

Racial steering and racially restrictive covenants

Another tactic that furthered this divide was racial steering. Real estate agents guided prospective homebuyers toward or away from neighborhoods based on their race. 

This kept neighborhoods — and accompanying resources — segregated. 

Before legal segregation practices were dismantled, many homes in white neighborhoods  included racially restrictive covenants in their deeds. These clauses prevented homeowners from selling homes to Black buyers.

After the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Congress passed the FAIR Housing Act of 1968 and outlawed racial discrimination in housing. But studies show steering still happens today, based on ostensibly legally protected classes of people, including race, skin color, gender and disability.

A 2017 study by the Urban Institute found that agents showed fewer available rental units to trans people and men in same-sex relationships than to straight men and cis people. (Women in same-sex relationships were treated the same as straight women.

Impact on the LGBTQ community

To this day, only 22 states and Washington, D.C., explicitly prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, 21 states and D.C. prohibit discrimination in public accommodations, and 15 states protect against credit discrimination. 

While those who fight for LGBTQ rights are hopeful that the Supreme Court’s June 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County sets the precedent to ban legal discrimination in housing as it did in employment, we can see from history that simply making discrimination illegal isn’t enough to stop it entirely — or turn around its detrimental economic effects.

As Audre Lorde once said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” It’s important that we all understand the systems that affect the queer/trans BIPOC community and how these systems impact the ability to build wealth over generations.

We must work together to ensure our collective freedom, which starts with understanding how we got to the place we’re in now.

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Daylight News The Issues

How to Choose the Best Transgender Health Insurance

Health insurance can be difficult to navigate for anyone. For trans folks, there are a few extra things to look for when selecting a plan.

What are your transition goals?

Before getting started, map out any medical transition plan you have. What does gender-affirming care look like for you? Hormone therapy? Electrolysis? Gender affirmation surgeries? 

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health  defines gender-affirming care as medically necessary, but transition coverage in the United States still varies among insurance companies and from state to state. As of July 2021, only 24 states and Washington, D.C. explicitly prohibit trans exclusions in health insurance coverage. 

If your state doesn’t prohibit trans exclusions, you may have to do extra research to find a plan that covers the types of health care that will bee part of your medical transition journey.  

Even in states with broader trans protections, be aware of significant policy differences among facilities. 

Some medical facilities let you start hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with informed consent. Others require a letter from a therapist. Some require HRT before gender affirmation surgery, while others let you choose which types of  medical transition make the most sense for you. 

Knowing what you want for yourself is the most important step to ensuring you’ll find the coverage and care you need.  

How to choose a health insurance policy

In most states, you can only update your insurance policy or move to a new provider during an open enrollment period or within 60 days of a qualifying life event, like leaving a job, moving or a change in your family that affects your coverage.

For most states, open enrollment is from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. During this time you can make any changes to your existing health insurance policy. This is a great time to see which policies cover the gender-affirming care you’re looking for.

A summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) is a snapshot of costs and benefits for a health insurance plan. Most insurers make these available online, and you can compare plans side by side through the government’s health insurance marketplace at Healthcare.gov

When choosing a plan, use the SBC to compare deductibles, out-of-pocket limits, behavioral health coverage and drug coverage. 

Here are the key points about each policy you’ll need to know:

  • A premium is the amount you pay, usually monthly, for your health insurance plan. Premium cost information will be provided separately from the SBC. If you’re on an employer-sponsored plan, your employer might pay for some or all of your premiums. If you’re eligible for tax credits through the Affordable Care Act, you’ll get a break on the cost of your premiums.
  • A deductible is the amount you pay for care each year before your insurance provider covers medical costs. Primary care and preventative services usually don’t count toward your deductible, so those would be covered regardless of how much you spend on medical care in a year. The deductible amount has a huge impact on the cost of your premium — the higher the deductible, the lower your premium. If you expect to have high medical costs in a given year, look for a low-deductible plan. If you expect to need only preventative or low-cost care, a high-deductible plan is usually fine.
  • The out-of-pocket maximum/limit is the most you will pay for health care in a year. If you expect high medical costs in a given year, look for a low out-of-pocket maximum. Adjusting the out-of-pocket could also help you land on a premium that fits your budget. 
  • A copay is a flat fee you pay when you receive care. These usually apply to routine care, but some plans use copays for more complicated care, as well.. A copay lets you get routine care at a low cost, even if you haven’t met your deductible for the year yet. If you expect to only need routine care, a high-deductible plan with affordable copays could be the most cost-effective for you. If you expect to need more complex care in a given year, check how copays effect the cost of the services you’re looking for.
  • Coinsurance is a shared cost between you and your insurance provider for health care. This is shown as a percentage you pay. Plans usually include some services that aren’t covered 100%, so you’ll see the percentage of cost you’ll be responsible for. Coinsurance usually applies before and after you’ve met your deductible.

Check out Healthcare.gov’s glossary for other health insurance terms and definitions.

Choosing a plan

Most insurance plans will have either a high deductible and low premium, or, a high premium and low deductible. Deductibles reset every year, with most plans resetting on Jan. 1. If possible, schedule high-cost services, like gender-affirmation surgeries, with your deductible timeline in mind.

As you go through an SBC, look for out-patient surgery costs, behavioral health costs (such as therapy), and medication costs. There is no “right” or “wrong” plan, just plans that may better suit your needs.

Health insurance coverage examples

Health insurance terms can be confusing, so here are three examples of how they work together:

Eliot has recently had a medical emergency that cost a total of $10,500

Their insurance plan has a $200 premium, a $500 deductible, 30% coinsurance and a $2,500 out-of-pocket maximum.

Every month, Eliot pays $200 for their health plan. 

For this medical emergency, Eliot will have to pay a $500 deductible before their insurance will cover any costs. The remaining $10,000 gets divided by the coinsurance, with Eliot being responsible for 30% of the cost, $3,000, and their insurance covering 70%,$7,000. 

BUT, because Eliot’s out-of-pocket maximum is $2,500 and they’ve already paid the $500 deductible, they only need to pay $2,000 of their portion of coinsurance. Of the total $10,500 bill, Eliot will pay $2,500 and their insurance will cover $8,000.

Rose has also had a medical emergency that cost a total of $10,500

Her insurance plan has a $120 premium, a $2,000 deductible, 20% coinsurance and a $5,000 out-of-pocket maximum.

Rose pays $120 monthly for her health insurance. 

For this bill, Rose will have to pay a $2,000 deductible before her insurance will cover any costs. The remaining $8,500 gets divided by the coinsurance, with Rose being responsible for 20% of the cost, $1,700, and her insurance covering 80%, $6,800. 

Because Rose’s out-of-pocket maximum is $5,000 and she hasn’t reached that, Rose must pay the full coinsurance cost. Of the total $10,500 bill, Rose will pay $3,700, and their insurance will cover $6,800.

Casper has a $10,500 medical emergency after $2,500 in other medical costs

His insurance plan has a $100 premium, a $3,000 deductible, 40% coinsurance, and a $5,000 out-of-pocket maximum.

Casper pays $100 monthly for his health insurance. 

Prior to this emergency, Casper had already spent $2,500 on other medical costs this year. For this bill, Casper will pay $500 to reach his deductible for the year. The remaining $10,000 gets divided by the coinsurance, with Casper responsible for 40%, $4,000, and his insurance covering 60%, $6,000. 

BUT, because Casper’s out-of-pocket maximum is $5,000 and he’s already spent $3,000, he is only responsible for $2,000 of his portion of the coinsurance. For this bill, Casper will pay $2,500, and his insurance will cover $8,000.

Reaching out for support

You’re not alone in this process. Because of the pandemic, many transgender support groups have shifted to virtual settings. Lean on our community for support — we’re pretty cool people who have been where you are.

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Daylight News The Issues

Money & the Queer Community: LGBTQ Financial Statistics

Life costs more when you’re queer. 

Discrimination and stigma affects us in all areas of life and makes it harder for us to participate in the wealth-building activities many others take for granted.

Exclusion from Legal Protections

Only 22 states and Washington, D.C. explicitly prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

21 states and D.C. prohibit LGBTQ discrimination in public accommodations.

15 states protect against credit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

LGBTQ Discrimination in Education

LGBTQ students who experience discrimination and victimization in school are three times more likely than other students to miss school, twice as likely to be disciplined at school and twice as likely to forgo post-secondary education.

17% of trans people (22% of trans women and 15% of trans men and nonbinary people) drop out of school because of mistreatment. 

45% of LGBTQ students say they avoid bathrooms at school because they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. 44% report the same for locker rooms, 40% for gym class, 26% for the cafeteria, and 25% for athletic fields and facilities. 11% of LGBTQ students say they avoid school grounds altogether.

Student Loans for Queer Borrowers

40% of LGBTQ borrowers reported being denied financial assistance for college due to their sexual orientation. 

LGBTQ students take on an average $16,000 more in student loan debt than cishet peers.

LGBTQ college graduates are more likely than cishet peers to make less than $50,000 a year. 

27% of LGBTQ borrowers have been prevented from buying a home because of student loan debt 41% delayed moving out, 23% were prevented from buying their first car, 19% from starting a family and 18% from getting married.

Employment Barriers for the LGBTQ Community

Nearly 10% of LGBTQ people have left jobs due to unwelcoming environments, and more than 50% of us say discrimination negatively affects our work environments. 

Trans unemployment rates are three times that of the general population. Many trans folks have to hide or delay transitioning to avoid being mistreated at work. 

People exhibiting high levels of gender nonconformity are more likely to be fired, not hired or denied a promotion due to gender identity. 

Lack of Family Financial Support

53% of millennials overall rely on financial help from their parents — a lifeline many LGBTQ millennials don’t have access to. 

This often forces LGBTQ workers to take lower-paying jobs to secure stability faster.

LGBTQ children are more likely to be left out of wills and miss out on inheriting familial wealth. 

Lack of family support puts LGBTQ folks at higher risk of mental and physical health problems, substance use disorders, STIs, physical and sexual violence, intimate partner violence and housing insecurity.

An internalized survival mindset bred by lack of a financial safety net can cause low self-worth and prevent us from accessing wealth.

Queer Health Care Costs

22 states have passed anti-trans health care legislation. 

56% of LGBT adults (70% of trans and gender-nonconforming individuals) experience discrimination from health care professionals. To receive adequate treatment, many of us have to educate our providers. Fear of discrimination deters many of us from accessing preventative care, which puts us at higher risk for detrimental health issues.

Things like medical transitions, an increased risk for physical health conditions (like cancer and cardiovascular disease), HIV prevention and treatment, mental health treatment, and family planning make health care costs higher for us than for cishet people.

Intersectional Oppression

People who live at the intersections of multiple systems of oppression — like sexism, homophobia, racism or ableism — experience compounded mistreatment and economic violence. 

Compared to white peers, LGBTQ BIPOC are more likely to experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination when applying for jobs (32% versus 13%).

LGBTQ BIPOC are more likely than white peers to experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination from police (24% versus 11%). 

LGBTQ BIPOC experience higher rates of psychological distress and suicidal ideation than their white peers. 

Enter Daylight

We are the first generation of LGBTQ+ people who can live openly. We are everywhere the light shines, and it’s time for us to take the next steps in equality for our community, focusing on the wealth gap between us and the wider world. We’ve created Daylight for this purpose.

It’s our job to shine a light on LGBTQ+ money matters – starting with educating our community on all of the ways that the system is stacked against us and laying the foundations for great financial habits, making it easier for us to access fair financial products and working together to build the futures we deserve.

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The Issues

Does Ethical Investing Really Exist?

Money has power. It has the power to change your personal circumstances, to unleash both your potential and other’s, and to drive real change in the world. What we do with our money matters; boycotting businesses as a way of driving social change has long been a tactic of discriminated-against groups. 

Recently, the inverse of this strategy has become more popular; supporting businesses and organizations that are run by or work for the communities you belong to is a great way to keep those businesses thriving, which has the roundabout effect of encouraging other members of that community to start their own businesses and thrive. 

Divesting vs Investing

These tactics also exist in investing. Divesting caused Peabody, the world’s biggest coal company, to go bankrupt in 2016. On the other side, there’s ethical investing (or social impact investing, ESG investing, whatever you want to call it). 

But how do you decide if a company is worth divesting or investing in? Well, there are a lot of approaches.

The easiest is to invest in existing ethical funds. ‘ESG’ funds like the Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund which “track a benchmark of large- and mid-capitalization stocks that have been screened for certain social, human rights, and environmental criteria” allows you to easily manage your money in a way that outsources the work of assessing companies. 

Assessing a Company

But what if that isn’t enough for you? Well, then it’s time to start doing some research! Make a list of the things that matter to you when supporting a company or business. Examples might include:

  • Business goals/outcomes – is the company trying to do something good in the world?
  • Inclusive practices – does the company have internal and external policies around inclusivity? Is the entire C-suite straight white men? 
  • Partnerships – What other companies do they partner with and what are their ethics like? Would those companies also pass this assessment? (Might also be a good way to find other companies that you can invest in too!)
  • Social good – do they do anything to support causes that matter to you? Do they just change their logo to a rainbow during pride month, or do they actually support causes with time, money, support year-round?

Beyond Stocks

Beyond the stock market, there are also ways to get a return on investment in more innovative ways. Organizations like The Zebra Collective and other collective venture capital or angel groups like Gaingels offer ways to be more specific with your investments, and to invest in founders and ideas that excite you. 

Ultimately, it’s about what matters to you and where you want to put your money. Everyone has different principles around what is important to support, and as long as you feel you’re doing good in the world with your money, that’s all that matters!

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The Issues

The Hidden Costs of Transitioning

I’m finding this blog post really hard to start. There’s so much to say on this topic and it’s such a complex and personal issue that I’m almost at a loss for words. Transitioning is different for everyone. For some, it means hormones, name changes and surgeries. For others, it’s some of none of those things. It’s personal, it’s difficult, and often it’s really really expensive!

I’ve spoken briefly about how I got myself into debt transitioning: I was working a job that paid barely the living wage for NYC and despite freelancing on the side, I was not managing my money properly. I then got myself further into debt in order to retrain as a software engineer, one of the few career paths I could see that would allow me to work remotely (something I felt I needed for my mental health) while also giving me access to the kinds of salary levels that could actually enable me to access the surgeries I felt I needed to self actualize. 

My friend (who is also a trans woman) and I often joke about how every trans woman we know is a software engineer, but this took a more serious tone when, for some Daylight research, I was looking at your average monthly expenses if you’re a trans woman vs if you’re cis. She’s a senior software engineer, and has been on 6 figures since before she transitioned, so money has never been a barrier to any of her transition steps. When we looked at the spreadsheet, she texted “how can anyone who’s not on six figures afford all this”. Quite! 

A transgender woman in a hospital gown speaking to her doctor, a transgender man, in an exam room.
Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection.

The process of transitioning will vary from person to person according to their desired procedures and surgeries. Many will have different support networks and employment situations that could either help facilitate or act as a roadblock to transition. A lot of younger and less financially independent trans people, for example, who rely more heavily on monetary support from their parents, may experience a major financial setback, simply in failing to gain acceptance from their family.  

I think it’s also important to acknowledge here that some trans people choose not to take any medical steps, additionally non-binary people and people of other genders might also choose to medically transition. Everyone’s journey is different and valid, and today I just want to talk about those that do choose to take these steps, and the costs involved.

So, what are the costs?

Starting off with some of the costs of socially transitioning, getting a name change in the United States will cost in the range of $150 to $436, depending on which state or county you reside. Fees relating to the documentation of your name change, like the birth certificate and a certified copy, are included in that price range. A change of name on your driving license will typically cost around $20.  

There may be small costs relating to the purchasing of physical items that can enhance the gender experience of an individual. Products like chest binders cost around $30 while packers can be in the range of $10 to $20. 

Regarding the road to medically transitioning, hormone replacement therapy is one procedure that some wishing to transition see as a crucial step in their gender affirmation. The prescriptions and regular check-ups involved can cost around $1,500 a year. For transgender men’s hormone therapies, testosterone injections typically cost around $80 monthly, with testosterone patches costing more than $300 monthly. 

Sexual reassignment surgery (SRS, or GRS for ‘gender’) for trans women and trans femme people costs upwards of around $30,000, which many will find a daunting check to write, but the benefits will completely outweigh the costs. Other surgeries such as top surgery will cost between $9000 to $10,000.  

Many of the costs for surgery-related changes will vary depending on the complexity of the procedure, which comes down to the choice of that individual. For example, a metoidioplasty can range from anywhere between $50,000 to $60,000 whilst facial feminization surgeries (FFS) can be as expensive as $40,000 or as little as $3000, depending on which collection of surgeries you choose to have. 

Physical health considerations relating to transitioning must also be considered alongside psychological care, as trans people are more likely to be affected by anxiety and depression. It seems that from a bird’s-eye view, the bills really do begin to pile up.

How to fund a transition

The cost of gender affirming medical treatments can amount to more than $100,000 and a lot of these treatments are not covered by health insurance, based on short sighted ‘medically necessary’ clauses. 

The hidden costs to self-actualize, for a community already in an up-hill struggle legally and socially, are then doubled by a more complicated process for raising such money for these costs. For example, public funding platforms like GoFundMe require an individual to share their personal struggle to people which many individuals wishing to transition won’t be comfortable doing. There’s also evidence that being white, binary-presenting and a man makes it easier to crowdfund for surgeries.

Other methods of a medical loan or simply ‘saving up’ are more difficult for a group who are disproportionately of low income, and experience high levels of employment discrimination.

We’ll cover health insurance more deeply and broadly in a later blog post, but around 18% of trans people remain uninsured even though insurance companies have made sizeable strides in the past decade to provide coverage for transgender care. About 83% of insurance companies offer healthcare benefits that cover transgender care.

However, whilst this is now the case, some surgeries that are deemed ‘cosmetic’ by health insurance companies are less likely to be covered by their insurance policies. Procedures such as hair-removal, non-breast implants such as hip/face, or FFS are controversially labelled as not medically necessary for trans patients, when they are necessary for safety reasons. These treatments are medically necessary because they make it more likely that that person will move through society without being subject to bullying or harassment.

There has been some good progress in that regard, but the struggle carries on. Regarding the idea of ‘completing’ a transition: it must be held that no individual should feel pressured into undergoing multiple surgeries in order to validate their gender, and that transitioning doesn’t have a start, or an end. However, while surgery isn’t everyone’s goal, anyone wishing to embark on it should be supported. Ultimately, it’s about being comfortable in your skin and feeling safe and affirmed in your gender.

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The Issues

LGBT+ Retirement: What You Need to Know

Did you know that half of all LGBT+ people believe they will have to work well beyond retirement age?

Retirement can be a scary prospect if you aren’t prepared. For a lot of people, the thought of things like 401ks, retirement homes and relying on familial support can send anyone into panic, but for LGBT+ people, it’s often even scarier.

Two older gay men embrace

Finding Support

40% of LGBT+ older people have said that their networks have become smaller over time, as compared to 27% of non-LGBT+ people. They are also more likely to live alone and less likely to have children or family that they can rely on to advocate on their behalf.

I do wonder if this will change over time; in our previous article about Queer Families we found that 63% of LGBT+ millennials are considering expanding their families either by becoming parents for the first time or by having more children. But for our current cohort of LGBT+ seniors the numbers are not quite this high, largely because it’s only recently become socially acceptable and legal for LGBT+ couples to raise families and adopt in the USA.

Roth IRA who?

The general consensus goes like this: if you want to be prepared for retirement, you need to start young. But being able to afford to put a hundred dollars a month or more in an account you won’t be able to touch for 40+ years is a hard concept to swallow if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or…yknow…during a global pandemic.

Additionally, 25% of LGBTQ Millennials rate their investing knowledge/financial acumen as very knowledgeable, compared to a third (33%) of Non-LGBT Millennials who rate themselves as very knowledgeable. I think a lot of people don’t even know where to start when it comes to retirement! There are all these confusing terms like ‘Roth IRA’ and ‘401k’ that you hear a lot, but no one ever seems to be able to explain what they actually mean.

The cost of being queer

All of our research ultimately points to the fact that being LGBT+ just costs more than being non-LGBT+. We’re more likely to have more student debt, family planning costs more, trans people face astronomical costs to self-actualize and even LGBT+ retirement homes cost more! They’re more likely to be in a city with a higher cost of living, and there are fewer of them (maybe as few as 22!).

But why does being in an LGBT+ specific retirement home matter? Well, for one thing, a lot of LGBT+ seniors fear being discriminated against, or just simply misunderstood. I highly recommend this podcast episode by Nancy on queer retirement. Hearing the conflict in the voices of gay seniors as they discuss the awkwardness of their straight friends at retirement homes presuming that they’re also straight really drives home how important it is that you’re able to grow old in a space that understands you and doesn’t try and erase your identity.

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The Issues

Queer Families: Adoption and Fertility

Last week we talked about queer families, mostly from a philosophical and personal level. This week, I thought I’d expand more deeply into the practicalities of starting or expanding a family when ‘traditional’ conception methods aren’t available to you.

Adoption

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimated in a report that 114,000 same-sex couples in 2016 were raising children in the United States. Same-sex couples with children were far more likely than different-sex couples with children to have an adopted child, 21.4 percent versus 3 percent, the report found.

Despite this, adoption discrimination is still a thing in the US, where it is legal to refuse to place a child with a couple on ‘religious grounds’. Beyond this, it’s an expensive and time-consuming process and those of us with more of a ‘non-traditional’ lifestyle can be subject to scrutiny.

The average cost of adoption, according to a report from Adoptive Families Magazine, is $43,000. And that’s just the start: let’s not forget all the expenses in raising a child itself!

I’m not going to go too into funding options for all of these methods, as they’re largely the same as laid out in our surrogacy article. But, there’s a great episode from the Debt Free Guys podcast with Help Us Adopt, who are providing grants to couples who want to adopt.

Fertility for Transgender and Non-Binary People

Something that I think doesn’t get discussed a lot is fertility for trans and non-binary people. For those of us that decide to medically transition, taking hormones can have an effect on our fertility down the line. It’s very rare to find insurance plans that cover things like freezing sperm or eggs and it’s very costly out of pocket and usually requires a yearly fee.

This is part of a wider issue around trans health and insurance companies just not cutting it! More to come on that soon.

In Vitro

If you’ve chosen to use the aforementioned fertility freezing methods, or if you’re planning to use a sperm donor, you’ll likely be looking at in vitro fertilization. This is the process of taking mature eggs from ovaries, fertilizing them with sperm in a lab, and transferring the embryo into the uterus.

This is actually the cheapest of the methods, coming in at around $20k for a one ‘cycle’. But this does not include the cost of medications, and you might not be successful the first time, meaning you’ll need to shell out another $20k for an additional cycle.

Insurance does often cover a certain number of cycles, but I’ve heard from some couples that they’ve been required to have heteronormative ‘trying to conceive’ periods that they have to somehow prove that they’ve been doing for 6 months. How do you even begin to explain the mechanics of lesbian sex to an insurance rep over the phone?

Families look different for everyone

Not to repeat myself too much from last week, but I want to reiterate that everyone’s journeys are different. Some people don’t want kids, some trans people are able to conceive in the ‘traditional’ way because going on hormones isn’t part of their transition. Ultimately, it’s about what makes you feel fulfilled, and like you’ve made the best use of your time on this earth.

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The Issues

Queer Families: the Joys, the Difficulties, the Alternatives

Families are a complicated issue for LGBT+ people. Only in the last decade or so has it even become something possible for us, although in some parts of the world (and even the US, as I’ll get into later) it’s still not possible. But with increasing social acceptance and legislative changes it’s something more and more LGBT+ people are deciding to explore.

63% of LGBT+ millennials are considering expanding their families either by becoming parents for the first time or by having more children and the gap between LGBT+ people and non-LGBT+ people is narrower then ever before: 48% of LGBT+ millennials are actively planning to grow their families, compared to 55% of non-LGBT+ millennials.

Looking forwards, a quite-staggering 33% of Gen Z identify as LGBT+. There are about to be a whole lot more queer parents.

So it’s clear that this is something on a lot of people’s minds, but there are a lot of challenges still to go. For one thing it’s often not as simple as it is for non-LGBT+ people to start a family. Common routes used by LGBT+ people include adoption, surrogacy, and IVF but these are all expensive, time consuming and emotionally draining activities that not everyone has the strength and resources to go through.

Building a family

We’ve talked previously about surrogacy and the different ways to fund it, and we’re going to explore the practicalities of the other methods of building a family in the second part of this article series.

Something that’s always worth highlighting is that there are a tonne of benefits to having LGBT+ parents. Researchers found that children raised by same-sex couples had higher test scores in elementary and secondary school and were about 7 percent more likely to graduate from high school than children raised by different-sex couples. Now, take this with a grain of salt; “Same-sex couples often have to use expensive fertility treatments to have a child, meaning they are very motivated to become parents and tend to have a high level of wealth. This is likely to be a key reason their children perform well in school, the economists found.”

But even beyond this, it would probably be fair to say that having parents that have jumped through multiple hoops to have a child is going to appreciate and love that child a lot. Even being a victim of discrimination and misunderstanding by the world at large can arm you with the tools to teach others love and acceptance.

Beyond tradition

When I look to my own future, I don’t know what I see. I’m lucky to have my parents and family still very much in my life, and a wonderful chosen family as an extension of that, but I’ve never been sure about children. It’s so hard to imagine raising a child in a world that seems to get harder and harder to thrive in each day. As a trans woman who didn’t have access to fertility treatments, I’m pretty much left with the option to adopt, which is fine by me and probably what I’d do anyway. Maybe one day I’ll adopt an LGBT+ teenager in need of some love and support.

Traditional families and children are not something that everyone wants, or should feel pressured to have. The idea of the chosen family is a beautiful concept that has existed in LGBT+ culture for decades and still very much exists to this day. Ultimately, we all deserve to feel loved and cared for and chosen families are just as important in building a life that is rewarding.