I discussed the issue of elder abuse in a recent blog, having attended the National Elder Abuse Conference in Melbourne. Whilst at this conference there was also a presentation on elder abuse of transgender people. I had attended the LGBTI conference in Melbourne in late 2015 and have come across this sort of abuse in my capacity, consulting to elderly people seeking Aged Care placement. The Presenter at the recent Elder Abuse conference quoted research undertaken at ‘Val’s Cafe’, which is part of the Sexual Health and Ageing program at La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS). ‘We are still gay’ is Australia’s first evidence based study documenting the experiences and needs of LGBT Australians living with dementia. The resource outlines the key identified issues from the research and provides suggested strategies to help meet the needs of LGBT people living with dementia.
Some of the stories from a small, qualitative study of 16 trans people in open interviews give insight to the problems they face as they age.
Transgender Elder Abuse
Where do I go? Access
“I know some girls who are over 55 and some of them have gone into nursing homes as men because that’s the only way they could get into nursing homes. Even though they’ve had surgery, they’ve ended up going into nursing homes as men. To be a transwoman and try and get into a nursing home is very difficult because of discrimination. […] I have seen with my own eyes on many occasions transwomen not being treated correctly in nursing homes. If you’re applying for a nursing home and you put down transgender on them there seems to be never a vacancy.” – Laura
Treated as the wrong sex
“We really didn’t know a lot about this gentleman before he came in. We found out on the paperwork. When he came in, one of the staff went to assist him and got a terrible shock……He had a gender reassignment in 1975 [from male to female] and when the nurse was toileting him she noticed that his anatomy was different. And he just – he told her what it was all about. …….The reason why this gentleman is living as a male here is because the son said, “If you don’t – if you embarrass us and you don’t dress like a man, you won’t see any grandchildren.”– extracts of Edna’s story – as told by service providers Jason & Michelle
And there were stories of transgender people being buried as the wrong sex, as that is what their families insisted upon.
Gender identity is a legal right as covered by The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) 2013. Working in the area of aged care, it is vital that we recognise and respect a person’s gender identity, regardless of age.