Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults: Full Report

September 12, 2012

Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults: Recommendations for Policy and Practice

Full Report



Transgender older adults face profound challenges and experience striking disparities in areas such as health and health care access, physical and mental health, employment, housing and more. Research and experience also reveal that many transgender elders routinely encounter both a health care system and a national aging network that are ill-prepared to provide culturally competent care and services and create residential environments that affirm the gender identities and expressions of transgender older people.

Many transgender elders delay necessary care and are subjected to ignorance, prejudice, discrimination, hostility and even violence in the settings meant to support their successful aging. Policies and programs meant to support older people and other vulnerable populations often present significant barriers for transgender people, while initiatives that could address many of the disparities and challenges they face (such as elder abuse and housing costs) are neglected or underfunded.

Moreover, transgender elders came of age during decades when transgender people were heavily stigmatized and pathologized. Some came out and made gender transitions during these years, while many others kept their identities hidden for decades and are now coming out and transitioning later in life. Many challenges facing transgender elders are common to the broader older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population, but some are different. With a growing older transgender population, there is an urgent need to understand the challenges that can threaten financial security, health and overall well-being.

Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults responds to these concerns by examining the social,economic and service barriers facing this population. This report includes a detailed literature review, profiles of the experiences of transgender elders around the country and more than 60 concrete recommendations for policymakers and practitioners. Our hopes are that this report inspires conversation, more research and policy analysis, and ultimately, action.

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