2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Ashe McGovern

Ashe McGovern

City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Gay/Lesbian Rights
Sponsors: Getnick & Getnick LLP

The Project

Ashe helped low-income aging lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans¬gender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people in New York City who need access to public benefits and comprehensive health care with a three-pronged approach of outreach and education, policy advocacy, and direct legal services.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Poverty, homelessness, and discrimination—real and perceived—can seem like insurmountable barriers for older LGBTQ people seeking public benefits and health care. LGBTQ elders have systematically underutilized the important public benefits and health care services that they may need as they age. Approximately 65,000 LGBTQ elders reside in the New York metropolitan area. With the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act and the corresponding bans on LGBTQ discrimination in health care, there is an increased need for information and guidance to help LGBTQ elders, as well as legal and social service providers, navigate the system.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During their Fellowship, Ashe:
• Wrote official legislative comments to both the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Council, where Ashe testified in person, to advocate for the removal of legal discriminatory barriers to healthcare access for low-income trans and gender non-conforming communities
o As a result of Ashe’s advocacy: (1) New York City amended its birth certificate policy to ensure that trans people would not have to undergo surgery in order to change their birth certificate gender marker; and (2) New York State Department of Health removed a 15 year old categorical exclusion on trans related healthcare
• Started the monthly Trans Legal Clinic at the LGBT Community Center in New York City, which provides free legal services to low-income trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers seeking legal assistance with health care related matters
• Submitted official recommendations to the New York State Office for the Aging on ways that the state can increase LGBTQ aging community utilization of legal services across the state
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Ashe has joined the Center for American Progress as a Policy Analyst where they are focusing on the effects of criminal, racial, and economic justice issues on LGBTQ communities.

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