In the summer of 2017, Alternatives Federal Credit Union launched a first-of-its-kind partnership with Planned Parenthood of Greater New York to offer the TransAction Financial Empowerment Program. This program offers two loans types for transgender and non-binary folks looking for financial assistance on their personal journeys. We offer a revolving line of credit as well as a term loan at reduced rates and up to $20,000 each for qualified borrowers for social/medical transitional needs like vocal coaching, new wardrobe, updating legal documents, hormone replacement therapy and surgeries/procedures.
The NCUA was offering grant money in 2016 to credit unions to collaborate with another not-for-profit for outreach to underserved communities. After much internal discussion, the credit union team agreed that offering a specialized loan product for transgender and non-binary folks was how we wanted to proceed so we approached our local Planned Parenthood and they were very excited to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative.
Planned Parenthood of Greater New York was the first in the state to offer hormone replacement therapy (HRT). When they began offering HRT in 2013 they had 28 unique patients and by 2017 they had over 600 transgender and non-binary unique patients receiving services for their health care needs.
Our first collaborative steps involved a number of trainings between Planned Parenthood and Alternatives to understand each other and how to best serve this population. Planned Parenthood staff taught Alternatives staff how to navigate using correct pronouns and preferred names while Alternatives taught Planned Parenthood staff how the loan process would work when they referred someone to us. All in all, this partnership created strong bonds between both organizations that are still working together to compassionately serve these communities.
This partnership and loan program is near and dear to my heart as a transgender man. Planned Parenthood of Greater New York helped me in early 2014 by offering counseling and hormone replacement therapy along with a lot of care and respect from their staff. In October of 2014, Alternatives helped me finance my top surgery because my insurance didn’t cover any of it. This was prior to Alternatives offering TransAction so the lending team offered some creative solutions to fund my surgery at an interest rate and payment I was comfortable with.
Seven years later, I see a happier, healthier me and so do my friends and family. I am grateful to work for an organization that truly lives the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” and I don’t know who I would be today, if not for Planned Parenthood and Alternatives and all the help, encouragement, respect, and support I received from them. Transitioning has allowed me to live authentically and it feels great to just be me.
Alternatives is a one branch operation in Central New York and our tag line is “Where Good Things Happen” and that is a very true statement. I would encourage other credit unions to look into their communities and find the gaps where service is needed and work within your communities to close those gaps with responsible products and services. Even if you build something that impacts one person, it’s worth it!
Being a part of the credit union movement has afforded me a career and life that I am excited about and proud of. We truly can make a difference by showing up, working together, and creating opportunities for the benefit of all.