LGBTQ people are far more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to live in poverty.  As a result, they are more likely to lack access to health insurance and adequate healthcare. This disparity is particularly stark for communities of color, transgender and gender non-conforming communities, and aging communities.  Even those community members who are able to access care often experience significant barriers to comprehensive treatment because of harassment, legal restrictions on gender affirming care, an inability to obtain gender appropriate identity documents, and an inability to find and maintain safe and affordable housing.  These social and legal stressors contribute to the documented fact that LGBTQ communities suffer worse health outcomes overall.

To help address these issues, NYLAG’s LGBT Law Project offers free legal services to low-income people in several areas including accessing healthcare and public benefits.  Using NYLAG’s holistic service model, the LGBT Law Project seeks to address health issues in tandem with other matters, such as access to safe housing, stable employment, proper identification, and family relationship recognition all of which contribute to a person’s health and well-being.

In September, NYLAG welcomed Equal Justice Works Fellow Ashe McGovern to launch the Health & Economic Justice Initiative, which expanded the agency’s existing work in access to healthcare for low-income LGBTQ communities, particularly aging, transgender, and gender non-conforming communities””given their higher levels of poverty compared to LGBTQ communities overall.  During LGBTQ Health Month, the LGBT Law Project remains committed to helping clients assert their rights in accessing healthcare and in turn, creating a reduction in LGBTQ health disparities.  Specifically, the LGBT Law Project offers free legal advice and counsel in the following areas:

  • Accessing Medicaid, Medicare and Public Assistance: including representation at hearings when benefits have been wrongfully terminated or access has been restricted as a result of harassment due to a person’s LGBTQ identity.
  • Ensuring Safe and Affirming Access to Hospital and Medical Care: including advocacy with hospitals who fail to provide LGBTQ-competent healthcare or gender affirming treatment.
  • Creating Vital Life Planning Documents: including health care proxies, wills, power of attorney and other advanced directives.

NYLAG’s LGBT Law Project staffs legal clinics across New York City, offering free educational workshops on health related matters for the LGBTQ community, and working with community centers and groups in order to serve clients within their own neighborhoods.

If you are a low-income LGBTQ person with a health or public benefits related legal issue, please call the Project’s intake line at (212) 613-5000 ext. 5107.