How People in the Queer Community Think About Personal Finance

I married my wife last October in a backyard wedding hosted by my parents and costing $5,000. Her wife’s mother gave us honeymoon funds equivalent to our flight to France, and our guests were generous and, to our surprise, gave us thousands of dollars to start a new life.

I knew, of course, that people would get paid for the wedding, but this seemed like an abstract, heterosexual concept to me. “Free money to love someone?” In my experience, nothing about being a lesbian has come without at least a metaphorical price tag.

But that’s just my experience. In his June, Pride Month, many celebrate the history, struggles and joys of LGBTQ people. It’s also a time to celebrate our differences and the way we relate to the world around us, which made me think about money.

LGBTQ people must overcome many institutional disadvantages, including: disproportionate student loan debt, Wealth and savings gapreduced access to wealth for generations of our kin, food insecurityand the immeasurable loss associated with it housing, Employment and Workplace Discrimination. Marginalized identities such as race, immigration status and disability exacerbate economic disadvantage.

The overwhelming number of financial planners older white man They may not be equipped to address the concerns of LGBTQ people. Most bank accounts require legal names, which can be difficult for LGBTQ people with different unique names.

I wanted to delve into what other LGBTQ people think about personal finance. Queer community money can be fleeting, shared, and scarce, and that can influence our financial planning decisions.

Kara Sherman and Claire Sherman live in St. Louis with their 4-year-old son Linus. Kara, 49, works in a warehouse and earns $34 an hour, while Claire, 37, makes $52,000 a year working as a nonprofit fundraiser. Both husband and wife feel they need more savings, but high inflation and monthly mortgage costs of $1,200, Linus’ Montessori program tuition of $1,400, two leased cars of $400, and groceries of $600. Because of the cost, the family manages to survive.

Kara, who already works six days a week, is considering a side job to pay off her credit card. “But the idea of ​​her working three shifts, six days a week, taking care of Linus for a good portion of the day, and then doing another job seems insane to me. It seems,” said Claire.

The family receives financial support from Claire’s parents, who helped cover living expenses when Carla took a year and a half off to care for Linus during the pandemic. They also helped Kara pay off her student loans. Carla had a different experience than her parents. They don’t give her the same level of support and she believes they are cooling her off because she is a lesbian.

“When I came out in the ’90s, things were so different that it was still considered okay to not have gay children,” Carla said, adding, “They were I didn’t even offer to do so,” he added. Please give us some money for our wedding. ”

Born in 2018, the couple estimates they spent $7,000 on six vials of sperm, hundreds of dollars on fertility tests, and $250 to $500 each (including insurance) on three attempts. They were unable to save in advance and used credit cards throughout the process.

Still, the Shermans conceived relatively cheaply through intrauterine insemination, which is usually the first and least expensive in assisted reproductive technology. With insurance, the cost of delivery was an additional $12,000 out of pocket.

While in the hospital, Claire, who was carrying a child, was asked to go through paperwork with no same-sex partner options. She crossed out her “her father” on her form and penciled in her “second mother” before she wrote down their names.

“My grandmother used to tell me that my father and I have holes in the palms of our hands,” said Yashin Adams, 36. Growing up in Egypt, he watched his father, nicknamed “the poor millionaire” by his mother, take care of his family, friends and neighbors. Mr. Adams follows in his father’s footsteps by making sure he takes care of the people in his life.

“It doesn’t matter if we are friends or foes, this is a community activity,” he said.

Adams graduated from medical school in Egypt in 2010 and moved to Ohio in 2015. After applying for political asylum in the United States as a former Muslim and gay man, he came out as transmasculine and nonbinary and began a medical career.

Adams now lives in San Diego and earns $90,000 a year as a clinical researcher for a private company. Yet he lives paycheck to paycheck.

“Because I’m on that paycheck, I feel a moral responsibility to take care of other people in my life who are basically my chosen family,” he said.

Adams said four members of his chosen family — the close ties LGBTQ people form apart from their biological relatives — now rely on him. His friends can have difficulty accepting help. They don’t want to accept handouts or feel burdened. So he encourages his friends to help with small household chores in exchange for money.

But Adams is also struggling. In addition to typical expenses such as $1,500 in rent and $500 in car loan payments, he owes tens of thousands of dollars to rehab visits for addiction issues, $5,000 in credit card debt, and medical debt. has his $4,000. Adams also said he pays $5,000 every three months for hormone care.

Josh Andreasen, director of financial planning at Edelman Financial Engines, said health care is an expensive item for everyone, but it can be particularly challenging for the LGBTQ community.

“With this patchwork of health care laws state by state, it can be very difficult to find and pay for the services you need,” Andreasen said in an email. rice field. “Transgender gender reassignment surgery is very expensive and can cost upwards of $100,000.”

“I will pay full price to be trans queer,” he said. “I have time, do you know what I mean?”

Adams feels there is a common approach to money and a responsibility to provide, which is common in queer and trans circles. This is an insider joke, a bit of a joke, but one that reflects fierce pride. Queer and trans people are giving the same few bucks back and forth over and over again to help each other. Because, as Adams said, who would fund it if not the transgender people themselves?

Bex Mui and her fiancée Chelina Guzman are a lesbian couple living in Oakland, California. Mui, 38, is a self-employed equity consultant and advocate for LGBTQ inclusion, and Guzman, 31, works in event production. video technician. Together, she earns about $155,000 a year, and she hopes to have a family, but she feels financial hurdles are high.

Mui said the couple struggled to determine a realistic timeframe for becoming parents. She is mentally and emotionally ready to have children, but “but that doesn’t mean you can bring a baby into the world,” she says.

Mui often ponders how easy it is for heterosexual couples to have children. Rather, she and Guzman see the endeavor as a never-ending commitment and strategic plan: finding a sperm donor, negotiating legal fees and custody, fertility testing, and in vitro fertilization.

Mui said it was a frustrating challenge because they believe women of color earn less. The couple are saving for their wedding, so they have no savings for family planning.

On average, intrauterine insemination can be expensive $300-$1,000 per cyclethe average cost of IVF is $12,400 per cyclewith drugs, the cost can rise to nearly $25,000. Whichever option is chosen, most people will need multiple cycles of treatment, often costing families tens of thousands of dollars.

In the worst-case scenario, Mui said these financial barriers could prevent her from having children.

Access to clinics and doctors with LGBTQ health experience also plays a part in the couple’s economic equation. “We are very lucky to live in California,” Mui said. Despite the cost of living on the West Coast, the couple paid her $2,200 for an apartment and are estimated to cost another $1,000 a month for food, gas, and other expenses, but family planning is easier in liberal states. It feels like

Mika Amani, 22, is a singer-songwriter living in Miami. His rent is only $500 a month. That’s mostly because he lives in a queer house with his four roommates. Amani said she had a full-time job as a barista, earning $13 an hour plus tips, but quit last month after constant gender misunderstandings from customers and a racist incident with a co-worker.

Black transgender people like Amani are particularly vulnerable to workplace harassment and economic from National LGBTQ Special CommitteeAccording to advocacy research, the black transgender unemployment rate is 26 percent, four times the national unemployment rate and twice the general transgender population.

Quitting her job was a relief, but Amani lost her income. He relies on help from his parents and grandparents.

Economic instability affects Amani’s access to gender-affirming care. He was due to have a crown surgery this month, but knew he couldn’t afford it before he left his job. Through crowdfunding, a strategy that many LGBTQ people use while relying on their community, he raised about $1,400, which he diverted to immediate expenses. With insurance from his previous job, the surgery would have cost him about $5,600 out of pocket.

“Being in survival mode is kind of my focus right now,” he said. “At the moment, I cannot accept the fact that I cannot have crown surgery because it is not realistic.”

“Financial planning is a key component in bridging the economic divide facing the LGBTQ+ community,” Northwestern Mutual financial adviser Noel Songkrant said in an email. But until homophobia and transphobia are systematically addressed, economic knowledge alone is unlikely to fill this gap.

Transphobia has had ripple effects for Amani. That’s why he quit his barista job, lost his health insurance, and had to give up other opportunities. Amani was offered a paid gig to play music at an elementary school, but he turned it down, citing Florida’s anti-LGBTQ laws.

Amani seeks financial advice from her mother, a midwife, and her father, a private equity consultant, but she also hopes to find a financial advisor who shares her experience. He hopes a financial advisor can help him build the life he wants, filled with music, gender euphoria, travel, and the ability to support his younger brothers.

“I want to meet transgender people, black people, and maybe people who have been in a similar position to me,” he said.

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