Gender identity is all too often thought of in relation to youth. Far too few conversations take place involving older people that exist outside the gender binary, who experience their own unique challenges intersecting with ageing.
Yet, according to the Guardian, older trans people are beginning to challenge society’s narrow view of ageing. In the UK, 75 people aged between 61 and 71 had gender reassignment operations from 2009 to 2016. “These trans baby boomers are now beginning to challenge received ideas not just about gender but age, and the capacity of older people to live bold, adventurous lives.” IFA expert Dr Pamela B. Teaster is an expert in ethics, public policy, and public health related to aging, and co-editor of a book titled “Handbook of LGBT Elders.” Contact her for an expert opinion on the intersections of ageing and gender identity.
Despite some reductions in the stigma felt by trans people, many barriers still exist, and societal attitudes toward transitioning in later life can be especially challenging, with lack of understanding and acceptance drawing people away from their friends and communities.
Older people who require care can feel that they will be mistreated, especially in long term care homes where there is limited or no training on working with trans people. Moreover, older trans people may fear a loss of capacity as they age that will force them to rely on others who may not respect their gender identity. Dr Pat Armstrong is an expert in long term care who can speak to the need to increase knowledge and training on sexual orientation and gender identity in long term care.
Luckily, services supporting older trans people are starting to appear, often run by trans people themselves or by those who have been trained to provide sensitive, respectful care in the trans community. What is imperative is that the lived realities of older trans people are recognized, with policy makers and service providers acknowledging the intersections of ageism and transphobia and vowing to combat both.
Dr. Pamela B. Teaster Dean of Research
Dr. Pamela Teaster professor in the Department of Human Development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
Dr. Pat Armstrong Professor
Dr. Armstrong's work focuses on the fields of social policy, of women, work and the health and social services.