Pride 2021: Building a more equitable end-of-life options movement

In a 2021 poll, 5.6% of US adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender; this number has steadily increased over the last four years. After enduring a worldwide pandemic, on top of years of medical inequity, many historically excluded groups are calling for more power in their own medical treatment, and the LGBTQ+ family is among the loudest. 

A few months ago, we shared an article outlining the continued mistreatment and unnecessary suffering that many LGBTQ+ families experience at the end of life. Though not surprising to many in the community, it is another heartbreaking story in the list of injustices that these elders have faced just to be

According to the 2020 census, all Baby Boomers will be 65 or older by 2030. This means more LGBTQ+ patients facing medical situations, more partners advocating for their loved ones, more children navigating complicated medical processes, and more communities needing to be equipped to face crises. It may be a terminal illness, an accident, or a sudden onset illness. As this population grows, so will the need for palliative care, and practitioners who respect patient wishes. 

However, it is not just those 65 and over who need support making end-of-life plans. COVID-19 has shown all generations can experience incredible loss, and many Gen-Xers and Millennials have begun to seek information about things like advance directives (a set of documents that outline end-of-life wishes). Many of these folks are a part of historically invalidated groups, including members of the LGBTQ+ community. They are seeking information not just for themselves, but for their family members and loved ones. 

It can be overwhelming to start the conversations, or even begin the research. This is why Compassion & Choices is dedicated to supporting everyone, at any stage of life, with the tools to make their own decisions. On our “Plan Your Care” page, you can find downloadable documents for you and your loved ones. This includes a hospital visitation form, a patient medical notebook, and a full end of life decisions guide and toolkit that will empower any family member to fulfill their loved one’s wishes. 

As we wrap up Pride 2021, we also want to take a moment to honor LGBTQ+ elders who have shaped the end-of-life options movement and inspired so many of us. If you would like to share the story of an elder who has died,  do so here.

The LGBTQ+ equality movement and the end-of-life options movement are intertwined and share core values. When we learn from each other, and share in a radical acceptance of the end of life, families, chosen and otherwise, can feel empowered as they seek a peaceful goodbye.