Trans Aging and Policies


by Emilia Dunham

Reporting on the Philly Trans Health Conference

The last session I attend in day 1 was perhaps one of the most enlightening of the day. Serena Worthington of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) and others presented on issues facing trans elders and steps to be done. 

There needs to be just as much priority of programs and funding to include LGBT elders. Hopefully new national health reports that recommend research on LGBT elders will alleviate the vast, VAST gaps in this area as there are many disparities in the community and neglect from the larger LGBT community. Other opportunities with the Older Americans Act may allow for new care for LGB and trans people.

Currently organizations like SAGE are developing national policy strategies to identify action items and to identify issues among LGBT elders that can be addressed in the short- and long-term.

Issues for trans elders

  • Issues particular to trans elders
  • NCTE’s study shows that transgender people are much more likely to be harassed in employment; lose jobs; lose relationships with family, friends and partners. This is of course dramatic for trans elders who are already at risk for social stigma, unequal treatment in social services, loss of families, etc.
  • Invisibility (we don’t know how to identify trans and LGB elders or whether they want to be found)
  • Inability to change gender marker on federal documents such as social security & Medicaid
  • The pain of not being able to access care and aligning body, identity documents and one’s gender identity is difficult for this community especially in the “end of life” when they don’t know if this will be able to happen. Even being buried with the correct name is problematic for some and ILLEGAL in some areas (Oklahoma) — READ: ILLEGAL! What??!

Ok, obviously there are some REAL issues here, but how often do we hear about trans or LGB elders and how often do our programs include these folks?

One Reply to “Trans Aging and Policies”

  1. I’m very pleased that Serena from SAGEwas able to present on the issue of trans seniors, who are overlooked and unattended to even by trans organizations all too often. Many trans seniors never had the opportunity to transition, because the medical services were not available to us. I did not have the opportunity to transition until the age of 50, although I knew with certainty that I was trans from my earliest recollections at age 3.

    I serve on the SAGE Communities Advisory Council in the NY Metro area representing the concerns of trans elders, and I welcome any ideas, interests, and needs of trans seniors who would be interested in any programs or services from SAGE. SAGE wants to be a welcoming place for trans seniors and your input is invited.

    Please note that many trans seniors face extreme poverty and often are disabled and ill at advanced age. We cannot attend conferences such as the Trans Health Conference to represent ourselves. I was unable to attend because I could not afford it after a long bout of cancer. Please remember that not all trans people are youth, and trans seniors face a time of extreme vulnerability, including not having access to medical care, being homeless, and not having adequate food. Trans organizations should be aware that we exist, and being trans is not confined to the young.

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