Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Feroza Syed Dreams of a Day When All Trans People Have Access to Housing and Healthcare 

Directed by Kelly Teacher for The Advocate and Merrill.

As a board member of the Trans Housing Coalition and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, Feroza Syed understands and believes that housing is a human right everyone deserves, and can be difficult to achieve, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community. According to Merrill’s Diverse Viewpoints:  Exploring Wealth in the LGBTQ+ Community study of affluent LGBTQ+ individuals, those represented in the study are much more likely to be planning on buying a home — 18 percent versus just 9 percent for affluent members of the general population.

Syed knows more than most what it means to buy a home. “As a trans woman of color, for me, purchasing a home was definitely one of my proudest accomplishments, I also acknowledge the place of privilege I'm in to do so” says Syed. It’s something she’s passionate about helping others achieve because not everyone in the comunity is able to focus on their long-term financial decisions, but when they can it’s a way to generate real wealth. “I like to think of buying a home as a savings account in and of itself. So, once you get to the place where you can buy a home, you know, the equity that you’re gaining in your home in a sense is like a bank account.”

While purchasing a home stands out as one of the important milestones in Syed's life, she explained that being able to afford healthcare was also a financial priority. According to Merrill's study, LGBTQ+ individuals are 30 percent more likely than the general affluent population to list paying for healthcare as a main source of financial stress. That’s why Syed emphasizes that it’s important to be prepared to overcome those challenges.

“When all trans people can have access to housing and all trans people can have access to healthcare, that would be a huge milestone for our community,” she says. Now is the time to learn how to prepare for your financial future, Syed adds. “It’s really important to have these conversations and start thinking about how you can save for the future, because if you don’t come from that particular background or haven’t grown up in a setting where you’ve seen people prepping for retirement, it’s not something that you know about.” Syed suggests speaking with an expert on the subject who knows how to create the kind of financial security LGBTQ+ individuals need and deserve.

To learn more about Merrill’s study “Diverse Viewpoints: Exploring Wealth in the LGBTQ+ Community” visit ML.com/Diversity.

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