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Almost half of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) middle-income earners suffer from financial insecurity

2 minute read

Discrimination gets expensive.

Financial struggles hit the non-straight community 10 percentage points harder than the general population, according to a study by life insurance company MassMutual.

“Nearly half (47 percent) of middle-income earners who are … [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer] say they feel less than financially secure and many often struggle with financial emergencies,” says MassMutual’s head of diverse markets Wonhong Lee. That’s compared to 37 percent of general population, so what gives?

One reason: Many of them didn’t have the same means for financial education growing up as the rest of the country.

Half of all LGBTQ teens receive negative reactions from their families after coming out of the closet, according to nonprofit organization True Colors Fund. It’s harder to learn financial lessons from family members when they show you tension, disdain and resentment. Especially when the negative reactions reach the extremes.

Those extremes are another reason. A parent kicking their kids out for being straight is near unheard of, yet one fourth of LGBTQ homeless were left out on the streets for their gender or sexuality. These kids make up 40 percent of homeless youth, even though they only make up 7 percent of the total youth population.

You don’t have time to build a nest egg when you’re too busy stretching every dollar. But if you didn’t grow up homeless or underprivileged, why would you be struggling so hard to feel financially secure?

More than any other group, over a third (36 percent) of LGBTQ workers believe spending money for today is more important than saving for the future, according to the MassMutual study. That compares to 27 percent of the general population. In other words, they’re less likely to be saving for retirement, major lifestyle purchases, or emergencies.

Over a quarter claim they have less than $500 in savings and over half say an unexpected $5,000 expense would set them back with significant discomfort, or they wouldn’t be able to get by on what they have left.

Financial burdens from politics

It’s getting harder to blame anyone for living in the present in this current political climate.

Eighty percent of LGBTQ workers mark politics and the direction of their country as their top concern — more than they’re worried about their career, well-being of their parents, or even marriage. And no wonder.

President Donald Trump’s proposed military ban aims to cut transgender service members out of the military, setting back their careers and limiting employment opportunities for those considering military service. The U.S. Justice Department also last month declared anti-gay discrimination does not fall under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — meaning it’s perfectly legal not to hire someone just because of who they share their bed with.

Those that do want to plan ahead don’t find it easy. Despite 69 percent of LGBTQ workers showing interest in financial planning services, they “are less likely than others to agree that financial services companies want to help households like theirs,” meaning households with gay or transgender family members, according to the report.

That atmosphere predates Trump’s election. More and more lawsuits make the news for refusing LGBTQ people everything from cakes to marriage licenses. When it comes to financial institutions, they may fear the very same homophobia and transphobia.

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About the Author

Brittany Ferrendi

Brittany Ferrendi

Ferrendi is a freelance writer and the webmaster for South Florida Gay News.

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