The Challenges of the Pandemic for Queer Youth

The Challenges of the Pandemic for Queer Youth – Issues include limited access to community support and counseling and, in some cases, quarantining with unsupportive family members.

The pandemic has affected queer youth in many ways.  When Brittany Brockenbrough’s transgender son lost his in-school counseling and the ability to have meet-ups with other L.G.B.T.Q. youth during the pandemic, his mental health suffered.How Coronavirus Is Affecting Surrogacy

“He began to feel depressed and was withdrawn,” said Ms. Brockenbrough, a mother of two in Virginia. She was later able to get her son teletherapy and in-home support from a local mental health agency and to find ways for him to stay in touch with others in his community through such activities as weekly Zoom meetings and online game nights.

“He is doing much better now that he is back in treatment and staying connected to the community,” she said. “Social distancing and taking precautions is necessary, but for the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community, even those who have supportive parents, losing the ability to have that in-person social support with other L.G.B.T.Q.+ youth can have a significant impact.”

As young people continue to adjust to the pandemic, some are dealing with increased anxiety and stress. For those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, there may be additional challenges and risks resulting from limited access to community support, lack of in-school counseling and, in some cases, the difficult circumstances of quarantining with unsupportive family members.

“My parents do not accept that I am gay,” an 18-year-old from Yonkers, N.Y. who did not want his name published, said. “My support system was mostly at school, and now I am quarantining with family members who don’t accept who I really am.”

 

The young man, whose virtual high school graduation was last week, said his parents reacted with “anger” and “disgust” when they found out he was gay, and that being home with them during the Covid-19 shutdown has been very uncomfortable. “It is humiliating to have to rely on people who do not respect you,” he said.

L.G.B.T.Q. youth are already a vulnerable population and at higher risk for anxiety, depression, homelessness and self harm than their non-L.G.B.T.Q. peers. A 2018 study in JAMA Pediatrics by researchers at Harvard University and the Fenway Institute found that transgender youth were at a greater risk for attempted suicide, depression and anxiety, and that gender-affirming mental health services are greatly needed to address these concerns.

Sarah Gundle, a clinical psychologist in New York City, said that while online supports are available during this crisis and can provide help, for many they cannot replace in-person treatment and interaction with a community that accepts and validates your identity.

“L.G.B.T.Q.+ youth who have to be at home for extended periods of time and live with unsupportive family members — or their family environment makes it unsafe for them to be out at home — can experience a profound sense of isolation,” Dr. Gundle said. “A pandemic brings significant uncertainty — there is no definitive end — and it can feel as if there is no escape. Many L.G.B.T.Q.+ youth also have to worry about their safety and the repercussions if their family members find out.”

When college campuses closed in March because of the pandemic, having to return home to an unsupportive space was not a safe option for some students.

Danushi Fernando, the director of L.G.B.T.Q. and Gender Resources at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said that approximately 225 students — following state guidelines — remained on campus through the spring semester for various reasons, some because they did not feel safe sheltering with their families. Vassar also provided support for students through virtual gatherings, support groups and counseling.

NYTimes.com, June 29, 2020 – by Misha Valencia

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The Hidden Costs Of Starting A Family When Queer

The Hidden Costs Of Starting A Family When Queer

The Hidden Costs Of Starting A Family When Queer – Jac Ciardella sat at his kitchen table in New Jersey and inserted a syringe into a navel orange. His hand flexed as he squeezed the plunger, pushing water into the fruit’s rind. He needed the practice. He was about to inject fertility drugs into his wife, Candice Ciardella, and he wanted to get it exactly right. He knew how painful it could be. gay money
 
Just a year earlier, in February, 2017, the spouses’ positions were swapped: Candice, now 37, was administering the shot for Jac, who’s 40. Jac is a transgender man, and both he and his wife have undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to have a child.
The couple’s fertility journey started in 2015. The original plan had been to use donor sperm to impregnate Candice. But after six unsuccessful attempts at intrauterine insemination (IUI), they decided to try IVF on Jacwith the idea that Candice could carry one of his fertilized eggs. Candice began giving her husband shots of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), to make him produce extra eggs. 
 
“For years, needles were just part of the routine for us,” Candice says. “I think we had more empathy for one another because we both knew what it felt like. When it comes to the shots and the appointments, not many spouses can say: ‘I know exactly what you’re going through.’ We can.”
 
The process was emotionally taxing for both of them, but especially for Jac. “Someone’s head is between your legs, and it’s awkward for anyone — but, being transgender, it’s extra awkward,” Jac says. “Mentally, I’m feeling like I’m not supposed to be in that position. For me to feel comfortable going through IVF while still keeping my sanity and my integrity was huge.” 
 
Three cycles of IVF weren’t successful, and testing revealed no clear issues that would cause infertility. So in 2018, the Ciardellas decided to try IVF again, on Candice this time. 
 
“It was emotionally defeating. If you can survive IVF and infertility, your marriage should be able to survive just about anything else,” Jac says.  “It’s humbling and debilitating and cruel.” Adding to their stress was the financial strain. The Ciardellas were acutely aware that each failed cycle of IVF and IUI was costing them — big time. “You’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars going out the door,” he says. “It takes toughness.”
Jac and Candice’s story is unique, but the financial burden they faced is not. Most LGBTQ+ couples who want children have to confront the fact that starting a family will be expensive. Adoption, fertility treatments, and surrogates are all costly, often lengthy processes.
 
The Ciardellas say their insurance only covered their testing for issues that could cause infertility, such as blocked fallopian tubes. They had no financial help with the sperm, the IUIs, or the rounds of IVF. All told, over the course of three years, the couple would spend about $120,000 on four IVF cycles, $20,000 on fertility drugs, plus over $10,000 on IUI. “I got those numbers imprinted on my brain,” Jac says. “We always knew that to be parents, we’d need to be cutting into a good chunk of change — but we didn’t expect it to be quite that much.” 
 
Sandy Chuan, MD, a fertility specialist at San Diego Fertility Center, confirms that the costs of conceiving via fertility treatments can be shockingly high for LGBTQ+ couples. 
 
She says sperm samples can cost $600 to $900 per vial. One IUI attempt without insurance costs about $700 to $1,000, plus the donor sperm. “I usually tell my clients to ballpark around $1,500, but they might need to do three to six rounds,” Dr. Chuan explains. If IUI is unsuccessful, the next step is IVF, which Dr. Chuan says can cost as much as $15,000, plus $4,000 to $5,000 for medications to stimulate egg production. The price point for procedures can vary by state and market.
 
Refinery29.com, by Molly Longman, June 15, 2020
 
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Civil Rights Law Protects Gay and Transgender Workers, Supreme Court Rules

The court said the language of the Civil Rights Law of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for L.G.B.T. equality a stunning victory.legal surrogacy in New York

The vote was 6 to 3, with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch writing the majority opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether that last prohibition — discrimination “because of sex”— applies to many millions of gay and transgender workers.

The decision, covering two cases, was the court’s first on L.G.B.T. rights since the retirement in 2018 of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinions in all four of the court’s major gay rights decisions.

Those decisions were grounded in constitutional law. The new cases, by contrast, concerned statutory interpretation.

Lawyers for employers and the Trump administration argued that the common understanding of sex discrimination in 1964 was bias against women or men and did not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If Congress wanted to protect gay and transgender workers, they said, it could pass a new law.

Lawyers for the workers responded that discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation or transgender status must as a matter of logic take account of sex.

The court considered two sets of cases. The first concerned a pair of lawsuits from gay men who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation. The second was about a suit from a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who said her employer fired her when she announced that she would embrace her gender identity at work.

The cases concerning gay rights are Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., No. 17-1618, and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623.

The first case was filed by Gerald Bostock, a gay man who was fired from a government program that helped neglected and abused children in Clayton County, Ga., just south of Atlanta, after he joined a gay softball league.

Washington State Supreme CourtThe second was brought by a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, who also said he was fired because he was gay. His dismissal followed a complaint from a female customer who had expressed concerns about being strapped to Mr. Zarda during a tandem dive. Mr. Zarda, hoping to reassure the customer, told her that he was “100 percent gay.”

Mr. Zarda died in a 2014 skydiving accident, and his estate pursued his case.

Most federal appeals courts have interpreted Title VII to exclude sexual orientation discrimination. But two of them, in New York and Chicago, have ruled that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is a form of sex discrimination.

In 2018, a divided 13-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, allowed Mr. Zarda’s lawsuit to proceed. Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann concluded that “sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.”

In dissent, Judge Gerard E. Lynch wrote that the words of Title VII did not support the majority’s interpretation.

“Speaking solely as a citizen,” he wrote, “I would be delighted to awake one morning and learn that Congress had just passed legislation adding sexual orientation to the list of grounds of employment discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I am confident that one day — and I hope that day comes soon — I will have that pleasure.”

NYTimes.com, by Adam Liptak, June 15, 2020

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Korean Adoptee Wins Landmark Case in Search for Birth Parents

In the first verdict of its kind, a South Korean court has ruled that Kara Bos, an American who is a Korean adoptee, is a daughter of an 85-year-old man in Seoul.

A court in Seoul ruled Friday that a Korean adoptee, adopted by an American couple almost four decades ago must be recognized as a daughter of an 85-year-old South Korean man, providing hope for the thousands of Korean-born adoptees who want to know the identities of their birth parents.adopted kids, adoption new york, new york adoption, new york state adoption

On Nov. 18, exactly 36 years after she was found abandoned in a parking lot in a city in central South Korea, Kara Bos, now an American citizen, filed her paternity lawsuit, the first in South Korea by an overseas adoptee. After winning the lawsuit, Ms. Bos now hopes to confront her father to ask him who her mother was.

Ms. Bos was flown to the United States 10 months after she was found abandoned, becoming one of thousands of South Korean babies and toddlers shipped annually out of their birth country for overseas adoption in the 1970s and ’80s.

In recent years, Ms. Bos has been making trips to South Korea in search of her birth mother. She wanted to meet her biological father not only to press him on her mother’s identity, but to find out why she was abandoned. But three women she believed to be her half sisters have blocked her from meeting the elderly man, claiming that she was not family. As a last resort, she filed the paternity lawsuit.

“Because of the lawsuit, I actually now have a right to register as his daughter,” Ms. Bos told reporters outside the Seoul Family Court following its ruling on Friday. The ruling followed DNA test results that showed a 99.9981 percent probability that the man and Ms. Bos were father and daughter.

Ms. Bos flew from Amsterdam to attend the court ruling on Friday. She has lived in Amsterdam since 2009 with her Dutch husband, a son and a daughter, running a drowning-prevention program for children.

If she is included in his father’s family registry, Ms. Bos by South Korean law will become entitled to split his inheritance with her other siblings. And her half sisters cannot stop her from meeting her father.

nytimes.com, June 12, 2020 by Choe Sang-Hun

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Planned Parenthood – In a divorce, who gets custody of the embryos?

In a divorce, who gets custody of the embryos?

In a divorce, who gets the embryos? In the summer of 2014, a newly minted Phoenix lawyer named Ruby Torres had a whirlwind few weeks that would end up determining the course of her life. After being diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in the late spring, Torres, then 33, met with a fertility specialist in early July to see if she could preserve her ability to have children before chemotherapy-induced menopause. She was told she had just one chance—just one fertility cycle—to extract eggs ahead of her urgently needed treatment.divorce embryos

At the time, egg freezing was an iffy science; even after the advent of a flash-freezing process called vitrification, many unfertilized frozen eggs never survived the thawing process. Torres was advised to freeze embryos instead. Which meant she needed to find sperm. Immediately.

She had been dating a man named John Terrell for several years. They had a “good relationship”—at least in her eyes. Terrell initially declined to be Torres’ sperm donor (jacking off into a cup at a doctor’s office didn’t appeal to him, she recalled), but he eventually agreed after he learned that Torres’ ex-boyfriend had volunteered first. On a Friday in July, they signed a contract at a fertility clinic, which said that neither of them could use the embryos without the other’s consent. At lunch a few days later, they made the “rash decision” to get married. At the Bloom Reproductive Institute in Scottsdale soon after, Torres’ eggs were extracted and they made seven embryos together.

“I was happy that he had changed his mind,” Torres told me on the phone in February. “He was the man I was in love with. He was the one I wanted to be with and wanted to be the father of my children.”

In a divorce, who gets the embryos? Fast-forward two years later: The couple’s relationship had collapsed. The split was not amicable. According to Torres, the tail end was marred by infidelity and domestic violence (a charge that Terrell denies). Even though she remembers Terrell verbally giving her the embryos, the fate of their genetic material became the center of their divorce trial in family court. The judge eventually ruled against Torres, deciding that they must be donated to a third party. When Torres appealed, the court came down in her favor, ruling that her right to procreate outweighed her ex-husband’s desire not to. Then Terrell appealed the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court, which reversed the appeals court decision in late January: Torres cannot use the embryos without the consent of her ex-husband, and must donate them instead. Her hopes of having a biological child were permanently crushed.

Torres sees this as a simple issue, the right to have a baby: By denying her ownership of her embryos, she said, “you are taking my child from me.”

That’s one way of looking at it. Another way is through Terrell’s eyes: He believes his right not to become a parent trumps her desire to become one. His relationship with Torres was never serious, he claimed; they only dated “on and off.” According to family court testimony and a March phone call I had with his lead counsel at the Arizona Supreme Court, Eric M. Fraser, he married Torres to give her health insurance. He provided the sperm not because he saw a future with her, but because it was the “honorable thing,” especially since her cancer diagnosis seemed like “basically a death sentence.”

By the time their relationship ended, Fraser told me, Terrell was sure he did not want to create a baby with Torres. There was “no realistic way” he could have stayed out of that child’s life; they had overlapping friends and lived in a small community where everyone knew each other. Plus, the courts could not waive child support responsibility. No matter how many times Torres requested a preemptive child support waiver for Terrell in the event that she used the embryos—and she did request that—there was no way he could be off the hook for payments in case she died or got sick or went to jail. Unlike sperm donation or many adoptions, this wasn’t anonymous. Everyone would know he was the father.

According to estimates by reproductive endocrinologists, there may be about a million frozen embryos in the United States. There have been court battles over the fate of frozen embryos since the 1990s. But if the last few years are any indication, many more will become mired in divorce court. Torres and Terrell’s case is one of a handful of similar ones that have continued to pop up around the country, all involving the fate of embryos created by a couple who were once together and now are not. Many of them hinge on whether the right to be a parent is more important than the right not to be. There have been judges in Connecticut, MassachusettsTennesseeNew Jersey, and California who were swayed by arguments similar to Fraser’s, and therefore ruled against the spouse seeking to use the embryos. Most publicly, last October a judge in Louisiana dismissed a lawsuit filed against the actor Sofia Vergara by her ex-fiancé, Nick Loeb, for possession of their embryos. These cases sometimes go the other way: Courts in Illinois and Pennsylvania awarded embryos to women because they had no other chance of having a biological child. Legal experts suspect that one of these embryo cases will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court, having huge implications for abortion, stem cell research, and in vitro fertilization.

vice.com, June 1, 2020 by Nona Willis Aronowitz

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Better fertility treatments can mean much older parents. But how does this affect their offspring?

For nearly 40 years, fertility treatment has grown ever more advanced and so entrenched that it’s not uncommon for couples to begin their families in their late 30s, 40s or even 50s, producing much older parents.

Much older parents…  But even as questions about the technology to extend fertility have been answered — yes, children born through in vitro fertilization are healthy; yes, freezing embryos appears to be safe; yes, mothers can generally deliver babies safely well beyond the classic childbearing years — another important question is emerging: How old is too old for their offspring?

Offspring like Hayley, the 10-year-old daughter of a 58-year-old, Ann Skye.

“I knew that she was going to really need to build her own support system in life, or potentially would need to,” said Skye, who lives in North Carolina and works in public health. “I think that has really impacted the way we parented her. We were strong proponents of letting her cry [herself] to sleep for that same reason: She needs to be able to self-soothe.”

In December, two prominent psychologists and two reproductive endocrinologists published an opinion paper in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics questioning whether it was time to establish age restrictions in the field. They wrote that research has shown that children often experience social awkwardness if their parents are a half-century older than them and face greater risk of autism and psychopathologies. These children are also more likely to serve in a caregiving role and experience bereavement as adolescents or teens compared with their peers whose parents gave birth in their 20s and 30s, they wrote.

Do those risks constitute the potential for “great harm” to the child and outweigh a person’s right to “reproduce without limitation or interference” at any age, the authors asked.

“It is a self-perpetuating issue; the more older patients that seek [fertility] treatment, the more people feel that it is reasonable to seek treatment, especially in an age where sensational births are widely celebrated as positive events in the media,” they wrote.

In the United States, the number of live births to mothers ages 45 to 49 increased from 3,045 in 1996 to 8,257 in 2016, and the number to mothers ages 50 to 54 increased from 144 births to 786 births over the same time period, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The average age of women becoming mothers in the United States is now 26, up from 23 in 1994, according to the Pew Research Center.

WashingtonPost.com, May 30, 2020 by Eric Berger

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