While the decades-long fight for equal rights and marriage equality for LGBTQ+ Americans has resulted in society-shifting strides, residual forms of inequality still impact their safety, their families, and their day-to-day lives.
Discrimination in employment, housing, benefit programs, and financial earning power affect the financial well-being of LGBTQ+ couples and individuals due to the lack of basic legal protections in the majority of states across the country. The patchwork nature of current laws leaves millions of people subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination.
Our nation’s civil rights laws protect people on the basis of race, color, national origin, and in most cases, sex, disability, and religion. But federal law does not provide consistent non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The need for these protections is clear when more than half of LGBTQ+ Americans report hiding their personal lives to avoid discrimination.
In addition to the laws and policies that need to be changed, the current divisive political climate has also given rise to more expressions of intolerance and an increase in hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community—escalating the potential for unpleasant or even dangerous confrontations and concerns for individual safety.
Overlay these societal tensions on top of the perception that the financial industry is conservative, traditional, and sometimes unwelcoming towards minorities and women, and it’s not hard to see why some LGBTQ+ individuals are turned off altogether by the idea of investing or compounding the challenges to making a successful plan to ensure financial security.
Mind the Gap: LGBT Discrimination in Employment
The gender wage gap is not the only gap that exists in the labor market, correlational studies have demonstrated that there is also a sexual orientation gap.
A 2021 report on transgender adults in the U.S. showed that even with similar education levels, cis-gendered people earn 32% higher wages than transgendered people. Another study found that about 36% of LGBTQ+ individuals in the study reported employment discrimination.
A study done by Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law analyzed individuals with non-heterosexual gender identities and found that 9% of the population reported that they had lost a job or were denied a job in the past due to their gender identity. This percentage would be higher if it were not for the pandemic. These problems have a certain snowball effect on the LGBTQ+ community, as today’s burden stretches into retirement. Heteronormative job discrimination leads to a progressively worsening quality of life as LGBTQ+ individuals age and they are impacted by the lack of wealth accumulation due to employability issues.
Even when LGBTQ+ individuals do not experience the outright loss of a job, benefits associated with employment can sometimes be affected. Although marriage equality is now the norm nationwide, issues related to single vs. join pension payouts, Social Security divorce and/or survivor benefits, estate planning, and insurance policies sometimes don’t work in favor of LGBTQ+ couples and require advocacy and planning to ensure both members in a marriage receive the benefits they are legally entitled to.
Financial Status Affects Health Outcomes
This institutional discrimination has a ripple effect with wider consequences relating to physical, emotional, and mental health—especially for LGBTQ+ seniors who are aging alone. LGBTQ+ older adults are less likely than their heterosexual peers to reach out to providers, senior centers, meal programs, and other entitlement programs because they fear sexual orientation- or gender-based discrimination and harassment.
The same study done by Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law found that 25% of Americans are in the LGBTQ+ community, aged 65+ and are in poverty. Of this group, over half of them were in fair to poor health. This means 82.3 million Americans are older LGBTQ+ in poverty and need assistance with their health.
In addition to more prevalent economic inequality, LGBTQ+ Americans have increased rates of anxiety and depression which compound difficulties in receiving appropriate healthcare. It's been reported that LGBTQ+ older adults have received inferior, neglectful healthcare, or have been denied healthcare altogether.
All-important attention to wellness and self-care is frequently more difficult for LGBTQ+ elders because they are much more likely to live on their own, have fewer financial resources, and don’t necessarily trust their health care providers to treat them from a place of cultural competency.
LGBT Advocacy & Action: A Patriotic Duty
From the macro perspective, it’s imperative for the LGBTQ+ community to continue its’ sustained advocacy and support of passing The Equality Act that would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. By speaking up and being visible to state and federal representatives, LGBTQ+ advocates are giving voice to others in the community who may not have the ability to speak up due to fear of discrimination or harassment.
From a personal perspective, advocating for yourself (or finding a proven advocate to fight on your behalf) and developing a plan to protect your assets, ensure you can access every benefit you are entitled to and have the financial reserves to handle life’s unexpected twists are vital to your peace of mind and well-being.
Some financial advisors find the challenges facing LGBTQ+ individuals and couples unfamiliar and rather difficult to understand as they may not have had clients who’ve experienced them or haven’t personally experienced them.
Financial Advisor David Treece and his staff are strong advocates for the LGBTQ+ community who share your values and have the experience and expertise to address the concerns of LGBTQ+ individuals, couples, and families when it comes to financial planning.
We are tireless advocates for our clients and have helped many clients fight fraud, win insurance claims, and protect assets. It is the work we do every day that makes a big difference in empowering LGBTQ+ individuals to strengthen their voice about their financial future and express their wishes about being treated with dignity and respect.
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Learn more about how Treece Financial serves the financial planning needs of LGBTQ+ individuals. We are here and ready to help you invest with pride to live out loud and in control.
The views and opinions are those of David Treece and should not be construed as investment advice. The views and opinions are not necessarily those of Cetera Advisors LLC.
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Interested in participating in important academic research focused on increasing the understanding of aging in the LGBTQ+ community?
SAGE and the National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging provide community members interested in research participation with a list of academic research opportunities that have been reviewed and approved for listing by SAGE staff. Learn more
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