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On Nov. 8, 2017, my dad died. We had known he was dying — had had weeks to prepare for his death. What I was not prepared for was the sense of irrevocable loss. My dad was gone. He wasn’t just my dad. He was my hero. He was my friend.

As I let the three Blue Moons I had enjoyed at my going-away lunch with my PGN colleagues wear off, I watched the snow pile up outside the window from the poorly forecasted, pre-Christmas surprise storm. I was anxiously awaiting the sound of my wife’s car pulling into the driveway; we knew the doctor would be calling that day with the news of her pregnancy test and agreed she’d wait to share it with me in person, good or bad. The serendipity of the fact that we were getting the result the day I left my longtime position as PGN editor wasn’t lost on me. I had made the tough decision to move on from the paper in large part to be closer to home in the suburbs as we got ready to have kids.

Q: I have contributed to a 529 Plan to help pay for the costs of college for my child. Did the new tax law change something about how I can use the 529 Plan?

A: Yes, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Section 529 plan savings may now be used for K-12 tuition as well as for higher education costs.  Here’s what you need to know:

As a trainer, it is common for people to ask me how quickly they will get results. People expect everything right now. Results happen when you put in the work. On top of that, everyone is different. There are reality shows where trainers help people lose excess amounts of weight in 30-60 days and you hear that many of those participants gain it all back, plus more, immediately after. Patience and consistency are key. The goal shouldn’t be to lose weight fast. The goal should be to get the body you want, and to keep it the way you want it.

Gay, lesbian or bisexual people are 10 times more likely to experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives, based on sexual orientation, as compared to heterosexual people.

Discrimination can take many forms, including:

• Obvious acts of prejudice and discrimination (for example, someone who is open about being transgender being refused employment or housing), or

• More subtle, but no less harmful, discrimination that reinforces negative stereotypes and feelings of difference (for example, seemingly benign jokes and verbal insults).

Transgender and gender non-conforming people in particular face discrimination in healthcare settings, are regularly denied needed care, and experience a range of health risks because they are transgender or gender non-conforming, according to a 2010 report by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS)—the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the United States: 

• 23 percent of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to out of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person,

• 33 percent of those who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender, with higher rates for people of color and people with disabilities. This included being refused treatment, being verbally harassed, physically or sexually assaulted, or having to teach the provider about transgender people in order to obtain appropriate care.

Trans, or Transgender is a word commonly used to describe people who identify with a gender different from the one assigned to them at birth. Gender non-conforming refers to individuals whose gender expression does not conform to society’s expectations of gender roles.

Even though there is an increasing acceptance of trans and gender non-conforming people in society, and greater visibility in the media and public life, many trans and gender non-conforming people still experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives.

So what can we do?

We can create spaces for ongoing dialogue and learning. Providers can seek out continuing education to learn effective and affirmative ways to support trans and gender non-conforming people. By responsibly taking ownership of the quality of services for our communities, providers will break down barriers to healthcare for our trans community.

The discrimination experienced by trans and gender non-conforming people has serious impacts on mental health, which can cause isolation and feelings of shame. However, when we can share these experiences and struggles with others who understand them, we find community and support. Every moment of visibility is a way our community can illustrate the words of Lourdes Ashley Hunter, “Every breath a trans person takes is an act of revolution.”

Working together on our self-acceptance and love increases our capacity to take care of our physical and mental health. We’re worth a trip to the doctor, and the effort it takes to connect with the resources we need.

Riley Marcano is a Medical Case Manager at Mazzoni Center. Joniece Greer is the Community Engagement Specialist at Mazzoni Center. Airen McClure is the Legal Services Office Administrator. To learn more about Mazzoni Center’s Trans Care services, visit https://www.mazzonicenter.org/health-care/trans-care

Two new books, one for middle grades and one for young adults, show two different ways of incorporating LGBT characters and themes into a story.

In Erica Perl’s middle-grade novel “All Three Stooges” (Alfred A. Knopf), seventh-graders Noah and his friend Dash share a love of comedy and a somewhat reluctant commitment to their bar-mitzvah preparations. Noah has a sister and two moms, and the latter are introduced without fanfare — this isn’t necessarily a book about having two moms.

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