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LGBT women at most risk for poverty

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By Mary Kuhlman

Nearly 16 percent of Hoosiers live in poverty, and a new report finds lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) women are among those most at risk.

The findings were released by a broad coalition of organizations, including the National Women's Law Center.

Fatima Goss Graves, the center's vice president for education and employment, says the report highlights how the challenges most women face particularly undermine the economic security of LGBT women.

"Getting adequate wages, having the support necessary to both work and care for families, having access to health care," says Goss Graves. "Those are concerns LGBT women are facing, and in some cases, facing more acutely."

Goss Graves says those concerns are further magnified for LGBT women of color, immigrant women, women raising children and transgender women. According to the report, almost 30 percent of bisexual women and 23 percent of lesbian women live in poverty, compared to 20 percent of heterosexual women.

Over five million women in the U.S. identify as LGBT, and Goss Graves says discriminatory laws, along with inequitable and outdated policies compromise their economic security. She adds some LGBT women are unable to access job-protected leave to care for a sick partner, and others struggle to obtain official identity documents that match their lived gender.

"Transgender women in particular have the problem of it being difficult to access appropriate ID when ID is so crucial in our society to access jobs, to access things like healthcare," says Goss Graves.

In Indiana, proof of sex reassignment surgery is required to obtain a new birth certificate. Goss Graves says policies at the state and federal level should be improved to allow LGBT families the same protections and benefits available to others, such as health insurance, family leave, and child care assistance.

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