Approximately 14 percent of the 1.5 million Americans who are transgender are adults over age 65. Initiatives and programs that are meant to address the disparities and challenges seniors face are often forgotten and underfunded.
Specifically, employment and housing discrimination take a significant toll on LGBTQ+ seniors. 70 percent of transgender adults who are over 65 have reported that their gender transition was delayed to avoid discrimination in the workplace and other employment settings. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (2011), 90 percent of those responding to the survey has experienced discrimination at work and 24 percent had even lost their jobs because their employer was not comfortable with their gender identity. Housing discrimination is also an issue. The same survey found that 19 percent of those responding to the survey had been denied a home/apartment because they were transgender and 11 percent had been evicted. Health and aging disparities experienced by transgender seniors are brought about through layers of discrimination, including through employment and housing. Employment and housing are just two examples affecting transgender seniors, but working to fix this obstacle is a step by step process.
West Virginia is one of the 29 states that does not have a statute to ban LGBTQ+ discrimination in employment settings. However, last year a WV transgender man won a case through our Human Rights Commission, Livingood v. Public Defender Corp., that sets precedent for protection of LGBTQ+ individuals against discrimination in the state of WV. Although this is a big step for transgender rights in WV, there is still a lot to be done.
West Virginia Senior Legal Aid is here to provide legal assistance to ALL West Virginia seniors. We want to make sure LGBTQ+ senior West Virginians know and can exercise their legal rights. Any senior West Virginian age 60 or over can call us at 1-800-229-5068 to speak to a lawyer for free and to be treated with respect by all our staff.
contributed by Katie McCausley, Public Interest Law Fellow at WVSLA