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Aging as LGBT: Two Stories

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Published on May 24, 2017

America’s population is aging: by 2050, the number of people over the age of 65 will double to 83.7 million (from 43.1 million in 2012). While the public perception of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is largely one of a young, affluent community, there are more than 2.7 million LGBT adults ages 50 or older living in communities across the country.

This video follows the Tina and Jackie, born in the same town in 1947. Despite their similar beginnings, the women’s lives take very different turns and a lifetime of discrimination, lost wages, lack of family recognition, and more add up to create substantial difficulties for Jackie.

Along with the video, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and SAGE published a report detailing the many challenges facing LGBT older people like Jackie as they age. Health and wellbeing, economic security, and social connections are among the cornerstones for successful aging, yet these are areas in which many LGBT elders face substantial barriers–stemming from current discrimination as well as the accumulation of a lifetime of legal and structural discrimination, social stigma, and isolation.

Visit www.lgbtmap.org/olderadults for more information about the disparities facing LGBT older adults.

Transcript: As the American public ages, so do lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

LGBT older adults face the same challenges as other older adults, including financial worries and health concerns. But LGBT older adults face additional challenges.

Let's compare two women: Tina and Jackie, who were both born in 1947

In 1967, at college, Tina meets Frank. And Jackie meets Frances.

On a date with Frances after work, Jackie is seen by a co-worker, who tells their boss. Jackie is legally fired and takes a lesser paying job at a factory.

In 1973, Tina marries Frank, but Jackie is unable to marry Frances.

In the 80s, Tina and Frank have children. But Jackie and Frances are barred from adopting.

After decades of hard work, in 2010, Frank and Frances retire. Tina takes Social Security spousal benefits. But, because the federal government didn't recognize same-sex marriages then, Jackie is denied those benefits.

In 2015, right before the freedom to marry becomes available nationwide, Frank and Frances die. Tina pays for her in-home care with her Social Security survivor benefits and funds from Frank's pension.
Jackie is denied Social Security survivor benefits and, because she was not a legal spouse, is also denied Frances' pension. Their apartment was rented in Frances' name and her state lacks nondiscrimination protections in housing, so Jackie is evicted when she tried to change the lease into her name.

Lacking an income and a place to live, Jackie moves into a nursing home and relies on Medicaid to pay for it. She fears discrimination if she shares stories about her past, so she doesn't talk her life with Frances.

Tina can afford in-home nursing care and has the support of her children.

After a lifetime of discrimination, LGBT older adults face economic insecurity, poorer health, and reduced support networks.

Find out more about the unique disparities facing LGBT older adults, and how to remedy them, as well as the strength and resilience of LGBT adults at lgbtmap.org/olderadults.

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