Restrictions around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have changed how groups gather and celebrate, and Pride Month is no exception.
Alternatives Federal Credit Union in Ithaca, N.Y., is focusing on community partnerships that make the LGBTQ community more financially and socially secure.
“This year is so different on a lot of levels,” says Chris Cain, chief experience officer at the $115 million asset credit union. “We’re focusing on collaboration within the community.”
Through those partnerships, Alternatives Federal is hosting a series of workshops and virtual webinars about its TransAction Financial Empowerment Program.
The program provides access to funds to support gender affirmation, such as hormone therapy, vocal coaching, new wardrobes, legal documentation updates, and surgeries/procedures without the risks of high-interest credit or predatory lenders.
Alternatives Federal has partnered with Planned Parenthood of Greater New York to provide education that improves financial decision-making for the trans community with an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere.
The program’s credit features include a loan and a line of credit, Cain says. “The loan is to pay for surgery or maybe travel,” she says. “The line of credit covers ongoing expenses such as voice lessons, ongoing injections, and therapy.”
The effort serves a community need. “People were coming to us to finance their transition surgeries,” Cain says. “So they took our financial counseling to save for surgery. The program kind of built itself.”
But access to credit is only one aspect of the TransAction Financial Empowerment Program.
“Access to education and people who are supportive, open-minded, and who understand the struggles you’re going through is just as important,” Cain says.
She says it’s a bit odd celebrating Pride Month without the usual parades and festivals.
“We want to be cognizant of everything else that is going on,” Cain says. “A celebratory mood is good for some days and not so good for others. What’s important is having an open dialogue 12 months a year.”