The People Have Spoken: We Refuse to Be Invisible

The rallying call for SAGE and LGBTQ+ elders – “We Refuse to Be Invisible” – certainly rang true in this year’s historic election, as we saw Americans turn out in record numbers. After our collective calls to honor democracy and ensure that every vote was counted, the United States has voted for a new President and Vice President, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Americans voted for change and a new future. But our work is far from over.

As a country, we have been battling a pandemic and an economic crisis, and many of us have been marching for justice and rejecting efforts to use our differences to divide us. And as we’ve learned time and time again from our LGBTQ+ elder pioneers, resilience breeds progress. At SAGE, it means a lot to us that Joe Biden is the oldest ever president-elect and that he repelled an onslaught of ageist attacks about his age and mental health.  It is also critical that both President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris have long histories of supporting pro-LGBTQ+ policies.  We also celebrate the historic progress of electing the first woman and person of color to the vice presidency.  With this new leadership at our federal government’s helm, we look forward to meaningful progress and growing equality and equity for LGBTQ+ people, older people, and people of color.   SAGE pledges to partner with the Biden-Harris administration to ensure that our communities are seen and heard, and to push energetically for the changes our communities need.

At the top of our agenda is working with the Biden-Harris administration to turn the historic pro-LGBTQ+ legislative mandate that we won last spring – the LGBTQ+-inclusive reauthorization of the Older Americans Act – into action that makes a real difference in the lives of our elders.

Thanks to a decade of advocacy led by SAGE, the Older Americans Act, which is the federal law on local elder services – for the first time in history – requires outreach to LGBTQ+ older people, collecting data on our elders’ needs, planning to meet those needs, and reporting back to the federal government on how LGBTQ+ elders’ needs are being met.  This is a significant legislative breakthrough, but it won’t bring change unless we make it happen.  SAGE will partner with and push the new Biden-Harris administration to robustly implement this groundbreaking law. We’ll also work with community activists across the country to push for action at the local level.

SAGE will also press the new administration to address the unique needs of transgender elders, including by ensuring that transgender and gender non-conforming and non-binary (TGNCNB) elders are included in all federal surveys.  And, we will join forces with allies like our partners in the Diverse Elders Coalition to ensure that the needs of LGBTQ+ elders of color are addressed, and that systemic racism in elder policies and services is uprooted and replaced with racial equity.

Finally, we look forward to partnering with the Biden-Harris administration to advance a transformational equity agenda for all LGBTQ+ people, bringing us ever closer to a day when federal law reflects what we already know – that all people, including LGBTQ+ older people, must be legally and effectively protected from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

In all of these efforts, our brave and resilient LGBTQ+ elders will be our inspiration and leaders.  As always, we are proud to stand with our elders – and our supporters – to achieve lasting and transformational change for all of us so that we can age with the equity, dignity, and respect that we deserve.