the things we’ve learned about making an LGBTQ family – Lesbian.com

the things we’ve learned about making an LGBTQ family –

Special to Lesbian.com

If these ovaries could talk“There is no simple way for LGBTQ folks to have babies. There are so many decisions that we have to make because we have too much of one thing and not enough of the other. Two women have two uterus (or is it uteruses? uteri?), but they don’t have sperm. Two men have all the sperm in the world, but come up short in the eggs and hopper department. And with trans fertility, the questions are more specific to each individual or couple, but that doesn’t mean there are fewer questions to be answered.

In terms of paths, you can embark on the scientific route, but you’ll need to figure out who will carry the baby, whose egg will be used, who will donate the sperm, who will go first. Perhaps you’ll consider using a surrogate, IVF, IUI, or even trying at home with what we like to call the “turkey baster method”. You may think about adopting. If you do, you’ll need to figure out if you want to adopt internationally or domestically or if you want to use an adoption lawyer or private agency. And don’t forget there’s always the option of being foster parents.

Wherever you fall on the LGBTQ spectrum, if you want to have a kid, you’ll have to figure out how to make that baby. And no matter which path you choose, it will cost ya…a lot.

Now, you’d think there would be a lot of grumbling from LGBTQ folks about how hard it is to make families. Well, we’re here to tell you that hasn’t been our experience. The folks we’ve talked to have made thoughtful decisions and were deliberate and intentional at every turn. Instead of the process feeling like a cross to bear, every choice they made defined and illuminated their families in love. And that’s beautiful.”

Robin and Jaimie share about their stories too like that time Jaimie assumed she’d be the one to carry their babies.

“I have always wanted to birth a child. Being gay never once deterred me. It just solidified the fact that I had to partner with a woman who wanted to be a mother and felt no need to carry. Luckily, Anne fit those criteria.

So, imagine my shock when Anne said to me, in a bar, a month after our wedding, ‘Ya know, I think I wanna have a baby.’

‘I’m sorry, what?’ I asked calmly while trying not to choke on the beer I was having trouble forcing down my throat.

My anxiety kicked in. I made Anne promise that if we do this ‘you have a baby’ thing, I still get to have mine. She assured me that she wouldn’t back out of our agreement, we would have two children, no matter what. I forced her to pinky swear her loyalty to the plan religiously throughout the next five years it took to get that second baby in our arms.”

And Robin’s path to parenting had some twists and turns too.

From the moment my wife and I learned about reciprocal IVF (using my eggs but Mary would carry) we were all about it. The idea that we could make a baby who would have my genetics, but literally be made from Mary’s bones, seemed like the coolest science experiment ever invented.

We knew that was how we would create our family.

The downside? It would cost around $26,0000, and we only had enough money to try once. That meant no more IVFs and no more savings account. But we were blinded by the idea that the baby would be made of the two of us, so we forged ahead. It wasn’t until we were handed ten different prescription forms that we began to question our plan. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that the odds of us having a successful pregnancy in one round of IVF were not on our side. Not to mention what we would be putting ourselves through physically.

That’s when my wife said, “Are we going about this the hardest possible way?”

The answer was, “Yes.” We loved the idea of the baby coming from both of us, but we needed to prioritize being parents and being fiscally responsible over needing our baby to be from both of us. These are the decisions us L, G, B, T & Q’s have to make.

If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We’ve Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family includes stories from actor and comedian, Judy Gold, State Senator, Zach Wahls, poet, activist, and author, Staceyann Chin, America’s Got Talent alum, Julia Scotti, and The Abbys from Bravo TV.

This book is an informative, in-depth journey that is equal parts funny, serious, happy, sad, celebratory, cautionary, and powerful. Robin and Jaime compare the journey to parenthood for LGBTQ folks to a roller coaster ride. “At first, you’re really excited. The car chugs up the hill, clink-by-clink, and suddenly you’re wondering when was the last time they tightened the bolts on the tracks? That’s how it is when you’re spending a lot of money trying to have kids in a world that’s not set up for families like yours. You just have to hold on and try to enjoy the ride.”

Excerpt(s) from If These Ovaries Could Talk: The Things We’ve Learned About Making an LGBTQ Family. Copyright © 2020 Jaimie Kelton and Robin Hopkins. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Lit Riot Press.


The Consequences of the 2020 Election for LGBTQ Parents and Our Children

The Consequences of the 2020 Election for LGBTQ Parents and

This November’s presidential election may carry with it the biggest consequences any U.S. election has ever had for LGBTQ parents and our children. That’s why we need to make our voting plans now.

U.S. Flag in Cloudy Sky

As writer, professor, and transgender parent Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote today in her New York Times piece, “What’s at Stake for L.G.B.T.Q. Families in This Election,” President Trump’s record on LGBTQ equality is atrocious. The Republican party’s 2020 platform—identical to its 2016 platform—condemns marriage equality. (I’ll note that it refers to marriage as “one man and one woman” a total of five times.) The president’s recent shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees for his second term includes many anti-LGBTQ individuals.

That’s troubling for many reasons, as Boylan says (and her full piece, as always, is worth a read). I’ll add another: several important cases related to LGBTQ parental rights are still making their way through the federal courts. They will decide whether children born outside of the U.S. to parents in same-sex relationships, at least one of whom is a U.S. citizen, should have U.S. citizenship. While the families have had some wins, the U.S. State Department continues to appeal them.

Another case, on whether taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others by citing religious beliefs, will be heard by the Supreme Court on November 4, the day after the election—too early for any of the new nominees, but still a case to watch in a majority conservative court.

On the state level, there is still much progress to be made in terms of simple, cheap, and solid legal protections for both parents in same-sex couples. (Herewith your regular reminder that marriage alone isn’t enough.) That has less to do with who sits in the Oval Office and more with state legislatures and governors’ offices, but is yet another reason to vote this fall.

As Boylan notes, however, citing data from the Williams Institute at UCLA, an estimated one-fifth of queer adults are not registered to vote. That’s rather appalling. That same Williams study also found that “LGBT voters were significantly more likely than non-LGBT voters to say they would support candidates who are black, Latino/a, or LGBT themselves.” If you want our elected officials to be as diverse as America really is:

  • Register to vote if you’re not already.
  • Check here if you’re not sure.
  • Get an absentee ballot if you’d rather vote by mail (and do this well in advance in case of mail delays).
  • Find your polling place if you plan to go in person. Make plans for a long wait in line, if necessary (bring a book or a deck of cards; try this book if you want to show young kids why you’re there)—and coordinate rides with friends and neighbors.
  • Help out with nonpartisan voter outreach campaigns like Reclaim Our Vote to help ensure every American can exercise this fundamental right, or stay involved with LGBTQ and other social justice organizations. If you have college-age kids, you may wish to suggest they help with Every Vote Counts, a student-led, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing voter turnout and expanding voter access nationwide.
  • If you want to help turn out Democrats in battleground states (even if you don’t live there), check out this page from Vote Save America.

We can make a difference. These next seven weeks are critical,  however. Let’s do this.

We said yes! Now what? LGBTQ+ engagement advice

We said yes! Now what? LGBTQ+ engagement advice

We said yes! Now what? LGBTQ+ engagement advice

LGBTQ Parenting Roundup – Mombian

LGBTQ Parenting Roundup: Entertainment Edition

As summer winds down this Labor Day, let’s take a look at some of the stories of LGBTQ parents and our children that have been making headlines lately.

LGBTQ Parenting Roundup

Family Stories

  • Jenni and Sarah Barrett married and had two kids before Sarah, assigned male at birth, realized she was a woman, and before Jenni realized she was gay. They came out to each other on the same night. Four years later, and they’ve stuck together; their sons support them (one is gay himself); and they’re sharing their story as inspiration to other families experiencing major changes. Some of the media coverage has been a bit sensationalized; LGBTQ Nation’s take is more temperate.
  • Pandemic parenting in a two-mom family means twice the maternal guilt,” writes Sarah Liss in Xtra. “My queer family might have allowed me to avoid an unequal, gendered distribution of labour within our home, but queerness offers no protection against living in a culture that refuses to take care of its youngest, oldest and most vulnerable members.”
  • Wei Wei, a professor of sociology at East China Normal University, writes at Sixth Tone about “How Grandkids Are Changing China’s LGBT Family Dynamics.” He says, “For same-sex couples … the new focus on grandkids can create unexpected room for negotiation with their parents, while providing opportunities for new kinds of family relationships.”
  • In the Guardian, writer Ben Fergusson talks about adopting a child with his husband and the differences he’s noticed in how society treats mothers and fathers. “Mothers can do everything right, but be told they are doing everything wrong, whereas we are congratulated for doing the bare minimum,” he observes.
  • Javier and Amon Seabaugh share with the Dallas Voice their story of becoming parents through adoption.

Politics and Law

  • Maricopa County, Arizona, is reversing a policy that was spawned by homophobia. The county provides free legal services to parents doing uncontested adoptions. After marriage equality became law in 2015, however, then-County Attorney Bill Montgomery said same-sex parents weren’t eligible for the free services. Rather than face legal challenges, he moved legal work for any uncontested adoption to outside firms. Current County Attorney Allister Adel is now bringing that work back to her office, saving the county $750,000 a year.
  • Canada’s Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has said the government will now allow nonbiological Canadian parents who are their child’s legal parents at birth to pass down Canadian citizenship to their children born abroad, reports the CBC. (Compare how the U.S. State Department is opposing similar recognition for U.S. parents.)
  • A proposed German law would recognize nonbiological mothers in partnerships with the biological mother, without the nonbiological mother having to adopt. Nonbiological fathers in two-dad couples would still have to adopt, however.
  • The Washington Blade profiled lesbian mom “power couple” Claire Lucas and Judy Dlugacz, who are working to help elect Joe Biden. Lucas is a senior Democratic National Committee member; Dlugacz is the founder and president of Olivia Travel and co-founder of the groundbreaking Olivia Records, both for queer women.
  • Forty-seven percent of employers still require demonstration of infertility among same-sex couples before providing fertility benefits; 45 percent require it among single parents by choice and 55 percent for different-sex couples, reports consulting firm Willis Towers Watson from their “2020 Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey.” Requiring it for same-sex and single parents, who may be medically fertile but still need to use assisted reproduction, is ridiculous. This may slowly be changing, however, as some companies are eliminating the requirement for everyone. (See also my pieces on MassMutual and J.P. Morgan, which have both done so.)

Schools and Education

  • As so many of our children head back to school with at least some virtual component, Ty Marshall’s piece at Rethinking Schools on “How Google Classroom Erases Trans Students” is required reading. (Among other things, it should make us realize that improving a school’s LGBTQ friendliness isn’t just a matter of adding LGBTQ-inclusive books to the English and history curricula; there’s a technological component, too.)
  • Fan Yiying at Sixth Tone looks at challenges and solutions for same-sex parents and their children heading back to school in China.

Entertainment and Media

Research Request

  • Cate Desjardins, a Ph.D candidate at the Institute for Clinical Social Work, is seeking participants for their research on “how trans* gestational parents make meaning of gendered experiences during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

Celebrity LGBTQ+ wedding alert! Niecy Nash marries Jessica Betts

Celebrity LGBTQ+ wedding alert! Niecy Nash marries Jessica Betts

Celebrity LGBTQ+ wedding alert! Niecy Nash marries Jessica Betts – Equally Wed, modern LGBTQ+ weddings + LGBTQ-inclusive wedding pros

LGBTQ Back-to-School Resources: 2020 Edition

LGBTQ Back-to-School Resources: 2020 Edition

It’s a school year like no other, so here’s my updated annual collection of back-to-school resources for LGBTQ parents, parents of LGBTQ children, and educators! I hope it remains useful, regardless of the age of your children and whether they are learning in-person, virtually, or both.

LGBTQ Back-to-School Resources 2020

For All Ages—General

  • GLSEN prides itself on “Championing LGBTQ issues in K-12 education since 1990.” They offer a wealth of resources, some of which are further detailed in the sections to follow.
  • Our Family Coalition, the organization for LGBTQ families in California, offers a number of school-related resources, including training and professional development for families, teachers, administrators, and child-serving professionals; a list of schools that have had such trainings; and an annual LGBTQ-Inclusive Preschool Fair for parents looking for a school for their children. They also manage Teaching LGBTQ History, which provides lesson plans and other resources to fulfill the curricular requirements of the FAIR Education Act.
  • Family Equality has several handbooks and factsheets that offer many specific suggestions for communicating with your children’s school(s).
  • Teaching Tolerance’s guide, “Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students,” is a useful compact reference for classrooms of all ages. They also provide a number of other resources on gender and sexual identity as well as great materials for inclusion and support across many other aspects of identity.
  • The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth, offers a Model School District Policy for Suicide Prevention.

For Young Children

For Older Children

Many resources aimed at older students focus on LGBTQ youth, but most also have applicability to children of LGBTQ parents, whatever the children’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • GLSEN again is a good resource here, with materials on creating an inclusive curriculumGender and Sexuality Alliance tools, and research about the impact of homophobia and transphobia. Of particular note is Unheard Voices, an oral history and curriculum project done in partnership with in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and StoryCorps, to help educators integrate LGBTQ history, people, and issues into instructional programs for grades 6-12.
  • GLSEN also manages a number of programs/events to engage school communities of all grades throughout the academic year, including Ally Week, ThinkB4YouSpeak, the Day of Silence, No Name-Calling Week, and the Safe Space Kit.
  • PFLAG’s Safe Schools for All: Cultivating Respect program has similar materials (in English and Spanish) for making schools safer, reducing bullying, and providing comprehensive health education. They also offer a certification program for PFLAG members who want to assist with staff training and policy creation in local schools.
  • The Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network (formerly the Gay-Straight Alliance Network) has great materials for starting or sustaining a GSA.
  • The 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report from the HRC Foundation and the University of Connecticut is a survey of more than 12,000 LGBTQ teenagers across the nation about their daily lives at home, at school, and in their communities.

For All Ages—Specific to Transgender and Nonbinary Students

For All Ages—Mostly for Educators

  • History Unerased offers resources and training for K-12 teachers on LGBTQ-inclusive academic content.
  • Teaching Tolerance has LGBTQ-related lesson plans, student texts, and many more resources.
  • Queer Kid Stuff has lesson plans (including a Remote Learning Social Justice course), posters, worksheets, songs, and other resources for educators.
  • The American Association of School Librarians has published “Defending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School Libraries,” a resource guide (with a cool infographic) that “uses the AASL Standards framework as scaffolding to help users explore LGBTQ+ materials and needs in their own communities.”
  • The Queering Education Research Institute (QuERI) is an independent think-tank, qualitative research, policy, and training center dedicated to bridging the gap between research and practice in the teaching of LGBTQ students and the creation of LGBTQ youth affirming school environments. They offer professional development courses and more.
  • The Stonewall National Education Project, part of the Stonewall National Museum and Archives, advocates for “the safety, inclusion, and value of LGBTQ students.” They host an annual symposium for more than 150 school district leaders, federal and state agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and university offices.

Children’s/Middle Grade/YA Book Recommendations

  • My own recommendations in various categories of age and topic.
  • The American Library Association’s Rainbow List offers LGBTQ-inclusive children’s and young adult books chosen by a committee of librarians for quality as well as content. See also the lists from Family Equality and Welcoming Schools.
  • You may also want to encourage your school library to purchase Jaime Campbell Naidoo’s Rainbow Family Collections, an annotated guide to nearly 250 LGBTQ-inclusive books and media for children through grade five. It’s a few years old at this point (2012), though still invaluable.
  • Queer Books for Teens, compiled by a team of librarians and other book experts, is “a comprehensive list of all LGBTQIAP+ YA titles published between 2000 and 2017. It includes all major and indie U.S. presses and selective self-published material.” The creators note, however, that in such a comprehensive list, many of these books are “problematic in someway,” so they also offer several “Best of Lists” on various sub-topics.
  • YA Pride also covers numerous LGBTQ-inclusive young adult titles.
  • LGBTQAI+Books for Children and Teens, by Christina Dorr and Liz Deskins (American Library Association, 2018), is a compact guide with suggested books for young, middle grade, and teen readers, along with descriptive blurbs and discussion questions. This book is likely to be in a lot of school libraries, given its publisher, and its heart is in the right place—but there are a number of errors in it (notably one where they misgender a transgender girl character), so readers should exercise caution—I’ve detailed the errors here.

Books for Grown-Ups on LGBTQ Inclusion and Schools

  • Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom (Teachers College Press and GLSEN, 2018) by Caitlin L. Ryan and Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth, is aimed at helping elementary school English language arts (ELA) teachers introduce or deepen classroom discussions around LGBTQ identity and gender. It’s full of practical tips and ideas backed by curricular standards and classroom experience—but even if you’re not a teacher (or teach another subject), it may provide much food for thought. Importantly, it offers tools for teachers who may have varying degrees of experience or comfort in addressing LGBTQ topics, and also shows how classrooms could become more inclusive even in schools resistant to such topics.
  • Queer Adolescent Literature as a Complement to the English Language Arts Curriculum (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), edited by by Paula Greathouse, Brooke Eisenbach, and Joan F. Kaywell, offers 6th to 12th grade ELA educators guided instructional approaches for including queer-themed young adult literature to their classroom. Each chapter, by a different leading researcher or theorist, focuses on one queer-themed YA novel and includes activities to guide students.
  • Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality (2016), Rethinking Schools’ volume of essays from a wide range of teachers and educators, covers LGBTQ topics as well as ones related to gender and sexism in general.
  • Safe Is Not Enough: Better Schools for LGBTQ Students (Harvard Education Press, 2016), by Michael Sadowski, looks at how educators across the U.S. are creating LGBTQ-inclusive curricula and school climates, providing adults mentors and role models, and building family and community outreach programs. It’s a useful volume of ideas and solutions beyond just anti-bullying policies.
  • Celebrating Difference: A whole-school approach to LGBT+ inclusion, by Shaun Dellenty (Bloomsbury, 2019), has a U.K. focus but still offers plenty of strategies and tips for educators anywhere.
  • From the Dress-Up Corner to the Senior Prom: Navigating Gender and Sexuality Diversity in PreK-12 Schools(Rowman & Littlefield, 2012)by Jennifer Bryan, while a few years older, is also excellent.

Educational Films and Videos

Sports-Related Resources

GLSEN’s 2017 National School Climate Survey found that more than 40 percent of LGBTQ students said they avoided locker rooms, nearly the same amount avoided physical education or gym classes, and about one quarter avoided school athletic fields or facilities because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable. An older (2008) GLSEN study found that some students were told they should not do sports, or had their athletic abilities questioned, because they had LGBT parents.

  • GLSEN’s Changing the Game project is backed by a coalition of athletes, journalists, and sports figures. It features resources for athletes, athletic administrators, coaches, and parents, inspirational videos about people making a difference, and the Team Respect Challenge pledge.
  • Athlete Ally, founded by straight college wrestling coach Hudson Taylor (a former three-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler), runs public awareness campaigns and educational programs, and mobilizes ally Ambassadors in collegiate, professional and Olympic sports.
  • The National Center for Lesbian Rights has long been a powerhouse of advocacy and education on sports and more, and offers legal assistance to LGBTQ athletes and coaches.

Anti-bullying (LGBTQ-specific and not)

  • The Matthew Shepard Foundation has a number of resources for educators and others specific to anti-LGBT bullying.
  • Not in Our Town offers training, films, lesson plans, resources, and more (including some materials in Spanish) to help students and teachers create “safe, accepting and inclusive school communities.” It’s not exclusive to anti-LGBTQ bullying, but they have LGBTQ-inclusive materials, including “Our Family: A Film About Family Diversity,” a free YouTube video made in partnership with Our Family Coalition.
  • Stopbullying.gov has many good general resources about bullying and cyberbullying. It seems to still have Obama-era content on LGBT youth,  however, so use with care, especially on legal matters, as things may have changed. (See below for some legal resources.)
  • GLAAD organizes the annual Spirit Day each fall as a sign of support for bullied LGBTQ youth.
  • The It Gets Better project continues to spread messages and videos of hope to bullied LGBTQ youth.
  • Beyond Differences is a student-led organization that works to “inspire students at all middle schools nationwide to end social isolation and create a culture of belonging for everyone.” They organize several national days of awareness and action throughout the year.
  • The Movement Advancement Project maintains a map showing which states have LGBTQ-inclusive safe-schools laws.
  • Many state LGBTQ organizations’ websites also have information on state-specific anti-bullying laws.


Legal Resources

When all else fails, several organizations offer legal assistance to LGBTQ youth and others, often in school settings. Links are to their youth-specific pages, when available.

Personally, I try to approach the new school year in a spirit of opportunity, not trepidation. Our common goal as parents, teachers, and school administrators is to educate all children in a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment. That gives us reason to unite across our differences.

(I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

This trans tech leader founded a company to help seniors manage their medical costs / LGBTQ Nation

One medical myth facing Americans is that by the age of 65, when most of us are eligible, Medicare will relieve the cost pressure of their health insurance plans.

In fact, premium costs, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses are just as much a problem for Medicare recipients as they are for the general population. For LGBTQ elders, who often face greater health care and financial issues. choosing the wrong Medicare plan can be a disaster.

Related: Here are critical resources to help transgender seniors face the challenges of growing older

That’s where Trusty.Care comes in. Founded two years ago by Joseph Schneier, a trans man married to a trans woman, the digital health company provides health insurance brokers with the platform to help consumers pick the plan that minimizes out-of-pocket costs.

“Most of us approach retirement thinking Medicare will cover us and it will be okay, but it’s a major risk area,” says Schneier. “We decided to build a platform used by insurance brokers and others to assess the risk to older adults of incurring out of pocket costs and match them up with the right product for the most coverage at the least risk based on the individual’s preference.”

That simple idea turned to be a winner–literally.

Last month, AARP Innovation Labs and End Well Foundation selected Trusty.care as the winning startup in a national competition in which startups pitched ideas to help transform the experiences of aging, illness, and caregiving in America. (You can watch Trusty.Care’s winning pitch here.)

“AARP Innovation Labs supports and sponsors pitch competitions in a continued effort to make meaningful impacts on the challenges of aging,” says said Jacqueline Baker, Director of Innovation Programming, AARP Innovation Labs. “The needs of LGBTQ older adults are too often overlooked in the marketplace, and it never surprises us when people who have overcome their own life challenges, in turn, help others to overcome challenges as well, which is what Joseph and the other finalists are doing.”

Schneier was well-positioned to tackle the Medicare out-of-pocket problem. For more than a decade, he has worked in the health care space, so he was able to identify a problem in search of a solution.

“People are surprised to see that health care costs are the second largest expense for seniors and the least able to be controlled,” says Schneier. Indeed, health care costs are a leading cause of a sharp rise in bankruptcy among American seniors. Bankruptcy is “growing fastest among older adults, and almost always because of health care costs,” notes Schneier.

Trying to match the right plan with seniors’ needs has always been a challenge. But the need for a solution has only grown since Trusty.Care launched, thanks to a change in government policy.

“Up until last summer, most people used the government Medicare.gov finder,” Schneier says. “But then Medicare.gov removed the ability to save medication information.” Because medication costs are a key driver of out-of-pocket expenses, the change made it difficult for insurance brokers to project just how much a plan would end up costing each consumer.

As a result, says Schneier, “There is a tremendous hunger for products like ours in the market.” That change also exposed that the market hadn’t kept pace with change. “It was definitely operating like it was 1995 and didn’t mind too much. The change forced their hand.”

The pandemic has also accelerated change, as more seniors follow shelter-in-place policies to protect their health.

“Since you can’t meet face to face, people are looking for digital solutions,” notes Schneier.

At present, Trusty.Care has a staff of eleven. “We have a very diverse team,” says Schneier. “People know from the get-go that this is a space the is by definition inclusive. People are attracted to us who wouldn’t necessarily have a place at the table.”

Schneier says that being trans has informed who he is as a leader.

“Being trans, and especially being trans masculine–I’ve taken that as an opportunity for me to emulate what a man can be in leadership,” he says.

Schneier also sees the inherent privileges that come from being a white male.

“There are definitely a lot of times when it’s a confusing space to be a passing trans person passing as a white male,” he says “I have a lot of layers of privilege that are not obvious to everyone. I’m married to a trans woman, and her life is significantly more complex.”

As just one example of the privilege that comes with being male, Schneier notes that raising money for his company now is a lot easier than it was as a woman.

The assumptions people make sometimes force Schneier to challenge them.

“There are definitely moments where I’m in situations where people will assume I’m a straight, white, cis man and say things that really put you in the position of needing to speak up,” he says.

In the meantime, Trusty.Care is growing by leaps and bounds.

When it launched, the platform had just 10 brokers. By the end of this year, the company expects to have 20,000 brokers using the platform. Since each broker can bring in thousands of customers, the company will be serving the needs of a significant number of seniors, a growth trajectory that many tech firms would envy.

Throughout this progress, Schneier is keeping his sights on what drove him to found Trusty.Care in the first place.

“Our mission is that no retiree should go through bankruptcy because of out-of-pocket costs,” he says. ” We can’t change everything, but we can change what we can.”

For more information on how AARP is helping LGBTQ seniors, visit AARP.org/pride or WATCH the recent AARP Pride Town Hall Below:

The Books We Need: An LGBTQ Picture Book Wish List

The Books We Need: An LGBTQ Picture Book Wish List

The number of LGBTQ-inclusive picture books has grown exponentially over the past decade, particularly in the last few years. There are some topics and types of representation that are still lacking, however, so instead of reviewing existing books in this piece, I want to discuss some of those gaps.

Picture Books

First, we need more picture books that show LGBTQ characters and their families but aren’t “about” being LGBTQ per se. There is a slowly growing number of such titles, but far from enough. Sometimes a family with LGBTQ parents just goes to visit grandma; sometimes a transgender or nonbinary child has an intergalactic space adventure that has nothing to do with their gender identity.

At the same time, such books don’t always have to completely ignore the characters’ LGBTQ identities. Kyle Lukoff’s When Aiden Became a Brother and Max on the Farm are masterful examples of how to achieve this balance, bringing up the characters’ gender identities when relevant to a specific situation, but not focusing the stories on them.

We also need far more books centering the experiences of LGBTQ people of color and their families. Most LGBTQ-inclusive picture books of the past few years do indeed show people of color, but the vast majority of them involve making one parent a person of color (usually Black) and the other one White, or showing a classroom of children with various racial identities. It’s great to see this representation of multiracial families and schools—but we also need more books where the protagonist and their entire family are people of color. (There are a few, but not many.) Also sorely lacking are picture-book biographies of famous LGBTQ people of color that show their intersectional identities.

I would also like to see more LGBTQ-inclusive picture books that reflect the characters’ ethnic and/or religious heritage. There are none, to my knowledge, that show LGBTQ people or families celebrating Hanukkah, Easter, Kwanzaa, or Diwali, for example, and very few for other holidays. Such content would help show that LGBTQ people’s lives do indeed intersect with the many communities of which we are part and that LGBTQ identities, faith, and tradition are not mutually exclusive. Creating this content in authentic ways, however, also means engaging “own voices” creators who share identities with their subjects. Smaller independent publishers such as Flamingo Rampant, Reflection Press, and My Family Products are leading the way here; larger publishers would do well to follow their examples.

There are also no picture books that show clearly bisexual parents. I think there are ways for writers to make a parent’s bisexuality visible and still avoid centering the book on it as an “issue”—a parent could mention or encounter a person they dated in the past, of a different gender than their current spouse/partner, or a single parent could convey an interest in marrying someone of any gender, for example.

We also need more picture books that feature kids with transgender or nonbinary parents, in addition to the happily growing number with trans and gender creative kids. Gayle Pitman’s recent My Maddy stars a child speaking lovingly about her nonbinary parent, but there are many more stories to be told.

Despite the need for more “non-issue” books, too, children can still benefit from thoughtfully written titles that do address some of the specific situations that kids of LGBTQ parents and LGBTQ children may encounter—and there are many such topics that have not yet been covered extensively in picture books, such as a parent’s gender transition. The upcoming She’s My Dad! by Sarah Savage will help fill the gap here, but it shows only one possible story out of many. Another topic in need of more treatment is how queer families form, especially from the perspective of a child watching their LGBTQ parents go through the process of bringing a new sibling into the home, whether by assisted reproduction, fostering/adoption, or other means. A few, mostly self-published books exist, but given the variety of queer experiences, there is room for many more.

Children could also benefit from picture books about other potentially puzzling or difficult family moments, like when parents are divorcing, dating someone new, or remarrying, told through the lenses of LGBTQ families. There are a couple of self-published works that cover these topics (and the very first LGBTQ-inclusive picture book in English, Jane Severance’s 1979 When Megan Went Away, was about parental separation), but again, there are many possible situations and stories that have not yet been covered.

It’s worth noting, too, that many LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books have been self-published because the authors felt a need, often stemming from their own families. They deserve our praise for taking the time to write themselves into these stories. Yet self-published books can be a mixed lot, quality-wise, and often don’t get the marketing required to become known to the readers seeking them.

We should therefore support independent authors, not only by purchasing their books but also by finding ways to help them polish their works (e.g., constructive but kind feedback in online reviews) and to share them widely when we enjoy them. (Highlights Foundation last year held a workshop on writing LGBTQ-inclusive picture books, with instruction from published luminaries, which was another step in the right direction.)

At the same time, we should push larger publishers to seek out diverse talent (across many dimensions), to bring out additional LGBTQ-inclusive picture books on the topics above (and more), and to reach out to LGBTQ organizations, journalists, and other writers to help spread the word. Children of LGBTQ parents and LGBTQ children will benefit—and so will their peers. Everyone enjoys an intergalactic space adventure now and then.

(Originally published as my Mombian newspaper column.)

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LGBTQ Parenting Roundup: Entertainment Edition

LGBTQ Parenting Roundup: Entertainment Edition

Even in the middle of summer, things are happening! This week’s roundup is heavily (but not exclusively) about entertainment news—lighter fare, perhaps, but also touching on the important topic of representation.

LGBTQ Parenting Roundup

Entertainment and Media

  • Netflix’s new show The Baby-Sitter’s Club includes an episode in which one of the main characters is asked to sit for a young transgender girl, played by 9-year-old transgender actress Kai Shappley. Netflix writer and trans woman Rose Dommu said the episode “made me cry happy tears.”
  • Watch Tall Tales with True Queens, a free, short film that looks at the phenomenon of Drag Queen Story Hours.
  • TLC has premiered “My Pregnant Husband,” which shares the journeys of two transgender couples on their way to parenthood.
  • IndieWire interviewed Doc McStuffins creator and lesbian mom Chris Nee about her deal with Netflix that “positions her well on her way to becoming the Shonda Rhimes or Ryan Murphy of kids TV.” Among other things, Nee related why she pushed for the inclusion of a same-sex family on Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins in 2017 (about which more here): “I said, ‘I’m constantly doing press, talking about how important it is to see yourself onscreen and what that means to kids, and yet I can’t talk about my own family. I just said ‘I’m done, we’re putting a same sex family on the air.’”
  • The Butson-Luthier family—two dads and their 9-year-old daughter—have become the first family with gay dads to appear on a reality-based Disney show, the Disney Channel’s Disney Fam Jam.
  • Has it really been 10 years since The Kids Are All Right, the movie about a two-mom family in which one of the moms has an affair with their children’s sperm donor? Variety spoke with writers Lisa Cholodenko (a Real Lesbian Mom) and Stuart Blumberg, along with the film’s stars, about their reflections on the movie. Love it or hate it, this was the first major feature film to center an LGBTQ family, and one with older kids, no less.
  • GLAAD’s 2020 Studio Responsibility Index, which looks at LGBTQ representation in films, notes that there were only two LGBTQ-inclusive animated and family films in 2019, but the inclusive moments were “incredibly minor.” They opine, “Film should look to the boom and success of queer and trans representation in all ages programming happening on TV.” (Hear, hear!)

Family Stories

Politics and Law


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