Tag Archives: LGBTQ

LGBTQ Teens Engaged in Sex Work for Survival

There’s a difference between sex work that is legal and that which is criminalized, as far as protection and health-regulation goes, but it’s all work. People are doing this work for many different reasons, very rarely because they want to. It can be incredibly dangerous.

What appears to be a study that is the first of its kind, was released by an Urban Institute report on survival sex and LGBTQ youth in NYC. The study took interviews from 300 participants between 13 and 21 years of age and was done in collaboration with the organization Streetwise and Safe. The study was conducted with participants speaking to their peers, which likely made it much more effective.

This approach seems to have been a good move, resulting in straightforward and complex responses from LGBTQ teens who have taken part in survival sex. To say they choose to do this is misleading and damaging–it’s for survival; they’ve often run out of options. The main reason LGBTQ teens turn to survival sex is homelessness. As many as 50 percent of youth who are homeless or runaway, trade sex for money to care for themselves or for shelter. Forty-eight percent of transgender people who engage in sex work report that they’re homeless.

A 2007 study of LGBTQ teens in New York showed that transgender teens were eight times more likely to have traded sex for shelter than heterosexual teens and that LGBTQ youth in general were seven times more likely. More than half of the respondents of the study said they used the money from survival sex to buy food first.

LGBTQ Teens Engaged in Sex Work for Survival

Often, LGBTQ youth are introduced to this way of survival by a friend. Meredith Dank, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute believes these are relationships and circumstances too fraught to be labeled as “good” or “bad”. These teens have little control over meeting their own needs for survival and don’t have support systems, so they turn to each other as family and protection. Dank said, “They’ll say, ‘I needed a parent and I didn’t have them.’ Peers are serving that role of support they really need.”

The community ties these teens have built make it difficult for them to leave survival sex, even when they are presented with other employment opportunities. And, almost all of the youth interviewed in the study said they wanted to be able to support themselves differently. They reported they did not want to be engaged in survival sex, not even in a year and that, “They wanted a job. This wasn’t a job to them, it was just how they were surviving.”

Dank says, “What we knew was mostly anecdotal, and now we have data to share. LGBT youth are having these experiences all over the country. Whoever is passing the laws about this, we need them to know all of this.”

The end of the report includes a list of recommendations that is intended to reach social service agencies serving LGBTQ youth beyond NYC.



LGBTQ Parenting: Recognizing Rights

The generation that followed the baby boom is reaching parenting age. Simultaneously, the sexual revolution is coming full circle. More LGBTQ people within that particular age bracket are being recognized with equal rights under state and local laws.

With the question of the equal right to marry tabled in many states, the question regarding what is, traditionally, the next step in a relationship comes into play — the question of children. Overwhelmingly, the most common question newly married heterosexual couples are asked once their honeymoon period is over tends to be about children, and when they’re going to fit them into their timeline.

In twelve states, it remains illegal for LGBTQ couples to adopt children. Equally frustrating, it remains illegal for the non-biological partner to become a legal parent by way of adoption in those states, as well as several others. While those twelve states strictly ban same-sex adoptions, the remaining states, by and large, have adoption policies for LGBTQ couples that come with caveats for petitions that straight couples do not have to process.

LGBTQ Parenting: Recognizing Rights

This bureaucratic obstacle course is flat discrimination. Heterosexual and homosexual couples share the same human qualities: love, aspirations, plans for the future, shared finances; that’s all a given in any healthy relationship.

Biologically speaking, the complex issue of children tends to be where the two respective camps split. The paths divide at this point. Heterosexual couples must make an effort, for most of the span of their relationships, to actively avoid pregnancy, while LGBTQ couples must make a concerted effort to pursue having children, by way of either IVF or adoption. IVF therapies for lesbian couples are expensive, time-consuming, and often a strain on the health of the partner who would be carrying the child. Hormone therapy is often a necessary precursor to conception.

And yet, the LGBTQ community is reproducing in greater numbers than ever before. With an atmosphere of greater social acceptance and a wider array of options, an entire generation of LGBTQ parents is on the rise, recognized or not.

Breastfeeding Coach is a Transgender Man

Breastfeeding Coach is a Transgender Man

La Leche League Canada, part of the international breast feeding organization, was approached in 2012 by a transgender man who wanted to become a coach (TheStar.com). Trevor MacDonald had learned how to breastfeed his own newborn baby, a son, and was inspired to help others. MacDonald was floored however when his local chapter denied him, saying that only women were allowed to be coaches. What they had told him was, “Since an LLLC leader is a mother who breastfed a baby, a man cannot become an LLLC leader.” MacDonald was taking hormone therapy to become a man but quit when he found out he was pregnant in 2010.

Bemoaning his rejection on his blog, breast feeding advocates along with the LGBTQ community sprang into action. Both groups argued that this was discrimination and that the idea of parenthood shouldn’t be defined by such rigid gender definitions. Over a year later from his original interview, La Leche League International agreed dropping all definitions of gender from its application process. The Canadian chapter soon followed suit.  A spokesman for LLLC International, Diana West, said in a statement, “It was thought that only women could breastfeed. Once it became clear it wasn’t as straightforward as that, the policy had to change.”

This was the first time in 58 years that the organization dealt with such a case. Said West, “We’re just trying to be on the right side of history. Yes, we took a year to do it, but we did it in a way that was fair and unequivocal.” MacDonald himself was elated saying, “It’s really great. It doesn’t only open up opportunities to who can volunteer, but it sends a really clear message that La Leche League wants to support all kinds of families, and anyone who wants to breastfeed.” It pays to mention that Canada has a national human rights act which the organization had to fall in under. Still, it didn’t take a lawsuit to make this pivot. LLLC also portrays itself as a “nondiscriminatory service organization.” LLLC is starting to accept that family has a different connotation today than it did traditionally, and that that’s okay.

Health promoter at Toronto’s LGBTQ Parenting Network, Andy Inkster, said that, “It’s not La Leche League doing it on their own. They’re recognizing a shift in the broader culture.” Though MacDonald was initially disappointed by the group’s decision he kept in close contact with them. In fact, MacDonald wrote a tip sheet for transgender parents interested in approaching LLLC. Still, there is much more work to be done. The verbiage the group uses, such as “mother-to-mother support” is still outdated. MacDonald says of this, “This one change affects a lot of language they use all over the place. I still think there are a lot of updates they can make.”