Originally, this blog was supposed to be an invitation. An invitation to celebrate the 3 year anniversary of The Care Plan. It still is, but as an organization that focuses on the health and aging needs of marginalized people, there are larger issues looming. Our still being here after 3 years would not have been possible without your trust. Without people like you spreading the word, seeing value in our work with individuals and families across the country, we would not be here. We are looking forward to hosting you this coming Sunday from 2pm-4pm at Soul Vegetarian 203 E. 75th St. For the first time we’ll be giving our Hearts Forward Award to a community member who has improved the lives of LGBTQ Older Adults. Join us to find out who the recipient is and be in community. Please RSVP here:
Now with that invitation out of the way, let’s talk about you. You are valuable. You are singular. You are necessary. While reflecting back on the tragic events of recent weeks, I keep returning to these cornerstones. I write to you while clinging to and reinforcing my own internal stores of hope. We are in the midst of an ever more turbulent time in our country, however I remain committed to seeing and supporting the best within us. I believe there is strength inherent in our diversity, in lived experiences that blaze new trails, in questioning assumptions and learning about each other. You are part of our community and we support you, your loved ones and affirm your humanity.
The transgender community was rocked earlier this month by the news that the current administration may define gender as sex at birth. The response was swift and overwhelming; transgender advocates spoke out against the damage a limited definition such as this would have on their lives. There are many issues to consider, but some that stand out are basic identity documents, the ability to travel, work, seek housing and healthcare. These areas are already challenging for transgender communities, which we see first hand.
We had a client last year who was in her 70’s and was a transgender woman, she had waited for 40 years to change her documentation. We assisted her with securing a birth certificate and state ID that would allow her to enter senior housing as the person she’s always been, rather than having to live a lie in her autumn years.
A policy such as this is designed to fit people into boxes, to deny the opportunity to live authentically. It ignores the nuances of human diversity as expressed by people who are born with male and female sex organs or chromosomal differences. According to the Intersex Society of North America, 1 birth in 100 already differ from the current standards for male and female. You can read more detailed information on their website:
Transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people cannot be erased. They have always existed and always will. Thankfully the human story is one of diversity, evolution and expanding possibility. Transgender communities have consistently been at the forefront of justice, and remind us to not rest, to see and protect all of us.
There are no words that feel adequate in responding to the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. There are too few actions that can be taken to address this tragedy. We wish to lift up the names of those who were lost, express our empathy for the families and communities left behind and restate our commitment to inclusion.
Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. For many of the clients we serve, the horrors of the Holocaust are ever present. Anti-semitic hate crimes skyrocketed 57% in 2017 to levels not seen in 2 decades. Identity affects health, wellness, and in our society, life expectancy. We all have a role to play in securing a world in which people can worship and exist in peace.
People Who Care
So how do we respond in the face of division and identity based attacks? When targeting and hate affects people we love, work with, our families and clients? We dig deeper, build together, and stand firm. We encourage you to join us in reaching out personally to those in your circle who may have been affected by these occurrences. Care begins with visibility, recognizing and holding the humanity of those around us. The next step is action, and there are many ways to make change in your corner of the world. Here are a few ideas:
Check in regularly with people in your life who may be grieving or scared. Fear and trauma of this kind can increase anxiety and depression. Offer support and a listening ear.
Respond strongly and immediately to bigotry and prejudice when you encounter it. Whether a co-worker, at the Thanksgiving table, or a friend, make it clear that hate is not tolerated. Have the conversation in the moment, too often silence is interpreted as agreement.
Volunteer in a way that is meaningful and increases your awareness. You can contribute and turn that frustration into productivity.
Donate to an organization serving marginalized communities and those affected by violence.
Vote for candidates that value the lives and choice of all Americans. Take your elders to vote as well and folks who may need a ride.
Thank you again for being a part of our community. Thank you for your care of each other, your dedication to seeing the best in us triumph over hate. You are valuable. You are singular. You are necessary. I am proud to be with you in the persistent struggle to achieve a more peaceful and healthy world.
New York Times Article: Transgender Could Be Defined Out Of Existence Under Trump Administration
Suicide within Transgender Communities: Suicide and Suicidal Behavior among Transgender Persons