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This Under-the-Radar Trump Administration Change Could Make Life Even Harder for Transgender Seniors

This Under-the-Radar Trump Administration Change Could Make Life Even Harder for Transgender Seniors
From TIME - July 15, 2017

David Satin was born in 1934 in St. Paul, Minneapolis. When he was five years old, he says, he had a revelation: He was a girl. It took five decades to tell anyone, but one night when Satin was 60, at a bar with his son, he revealed the secret.

Thanks, the son said. Weve been waiting for you to tell us.

Today David Satin goes by the name of Barbara Satin. And at 83, shes making the most of her final years. She works as a transgender activist, helping other people like her come out and find support.

Thats why she is up in arms over a recent change that she says will silence the older transgender community. The Trump administration has eliminated a question on gender identity from the federal governments annual National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants -- which is used to measure the needs of seniors and establish the appropriate services for them.

The biggest problem we face as older transgender people is that were so unknown, Satin says.

The questions removal has many LGBT activists worried that it will become harder for the aging Stonewall generation to access the services provided under the Older Americans Act -- things like home aides, meal-delivery and transportation services -- which advocates say transgender seniors badly need, given their unique health issues and risk for discrimination.

The questions were removed from the survey for practical reasons only, says a spokeswoman for the Administration for Community Living -- the government agency that administers the survey.

Unfortunately, because extremely few people identified themselves as LGBT, there were not enough respondents for the data to be statistically reliable or reportable, the spokeswoman wrote in an email. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, we are required to do everything we can to minimize the burden of information gathering. (There are some 220,000 transgender people over the age of 65 in the U.S. and more than 2 million lesbian, gay and bisexual seniors, various researchers have found.)

Population data can help trigger government action, activists say. When an earlier survey by the Center for Disease Control showed that LGBT people were smoking cigarettes at higher rates than other individuals, for instance, anti-tobacco campaigns targeting LGBT people took off and the CDC ran advertisements encouraging LGBT people to quit smoking. And under the Obama administration, the Justice Department used data that showed transgender students endure high levels of bullying to issue guidance to schools around the country, including tolerant bathroom policies.

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