NCTE and Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) released Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults: Recommendations for Policy and Practice, a new resource on the current state of transgender aging. Transgender older adults face unique challenges including overwhelming disparities in health and health care access, employment, housing, and more. The report recognizes the importance of examining these factors as they directly affect the financial security, health, and overall well-being of older transgender individuals.
"Transgender individuals face many challenges associated with aging, including declining health, diminished income, and the loss of friends and family. Yet they also face additional challenges such as discrimination and hostility when accessing the services meant to support older adults," said Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. "Now, with this report, policymakers and aging service providers will gain a clear picture of the current state of transgender aging, and a roadmap of what they can do to improve policies and practices to ensure that transgender older adults age successfully."
The report includes a detailed literature review, profiles of personal experiences of transgender elders around the country, and more than 60 concrete recommendations for policymakers and practitioners. The Advisory Committee of the Transgender Aging Advisory Initiative identified four priority areas for policy advocacy to improve the lives of transgender older adults based on their expected impact if accomplished, as well as the expected feasibility of accomplishing them within the next 1-2 years:
Achieve inclusion and nondiscrimination in aging services by classifying LGBT older adults as a group with "greatest social need" and reauthorizing protections of older Americans to include LGBT people.
Promote best practices in long-term care by developing LGBT competency trainings and providing tools for long-term care facilities while including respect for the gender identity and expression of residents in specific guidelines.
Protect privacy in Social Security programs by updating the Social Security Administration (SSA) policies to permit individuals to change their gender designation without intrusive medical information while eliminating gender as a data field in SSA's automated verification programs.
Build a foundation of knowledge by including questions about gender identity and sexual orientation in federally-funded population-based surveys.
Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE Policy Counsel said, "Transgender older adults want to live healthy and independent lives and maintain dignity as they age. But this population faces unique challenges that the aging field as well as the LGBT community need to pay attention to. "
NCTE and SAGE will continue to advocate for these policy changes to ensure that older transgender adults have access to the necessary services and are treated with respect.