Caregiving in the LGBT Community


What would you do if doctors said you weren’t allowed in your partner’s hospital room, or if you saw your loved one being discriminated against and denied care? Today, we talk to Christopher MacLellan about the hurdles he had to overcome as a caregiver to his late partner Richard Schiffer. And we talk with Amy Whelan, Senior Staff Attorney at NCLR, and Joey Costello, Assistant Director of Care Management at SAGE, about how the caregiving journey of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people is made that much harder by discrimination.


Author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?” and featured in a 2015 Pulitzer Prize-nominated caregiving story “In Sickness and Health; A Couple’s Final Journey“, Christopher MacLellan is affectionately known nation-wide as The Bow Tie Guy in the vast network of family caregivers.The Whole Care Network™ has been a dream of Chris’ for quite some time. He started The Whole Care Network based on his own experience as a working family caregiver and the passion that he has gained through advocacy and collaboration before, during and after caregiving ends. The Whole Care Network is being developed as a multi-media, multi-channel platform for Caregivers to locate and share trusted resources via our Four Pillars of Care.


AMY WHELAN Amy Whelan has been a Senior Staff Attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) since 2011 and works on NCLR’s full range of litigation, policy, and public education work. Amy litigates complex civil cases around the country regarding marriage equality, employment discrimination, Title IX, family law, access to healthcare, prisoners’ civil rights, the First Amendment, and other constitutional matters. Amy represented the mother of a transgender teenager who was subjected to severe discrimination during an inpatient stay, resulting in a landmark opinion holding that discrimination based on a person’s transgender identity is sex discrimination under the Affordable Care Act. Amy also represents Adree Edmo, a transgender woman housed in the Idaho Department of Corrections who was denied gender affirming surgery despite her desperate need for that care. NCLR, along with co-counsel, obtained an order finding that the denial of care violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and requiring prison officials to provide the surgery. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review. In July 2020, Ms. Edmo became the second person in the country to receive court-ordered surgery in prison. Amy also represents Mary Walsh and Bev Nance in their litigation against a senior living facility that denied them housing because they are a same-sex couple. Amy received her Bachelor’s Degree from Princeton University and her Juris Doctorate from Northeastern University School of Law.

Joey Costello, LMSW is the Assistant Director of Care Management at SAGE with over 5+ years of experience working in the LGBTQ+ and Aging Communities. Joey is a graduate from the Silberman School of Social Work. He currently oversees the Caregiving Program and Staff in the NYC area. For more information on SAGE, please visit