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There is a need for gender-sensitive health- and social-care services for aging individuals

Finkenauer S, Sherratt J, Marlow J, et al.  When injustice gets old: A systematic review of trans aging  Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services. 2012; 24: 311–330.

Review question

Does a transgender or gender-nonconforming identity for adults over the age of 50 influence the prevalence of verbal and physical abuse, as well as access to and quality of healthcare and social services?

Background

Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals face higher rates of discrimination, such as verbal, physical and sexual abuse, societal marginalization and social exclusion. Such inequalities directly influence their ability to access adequate healthcare as they age.

Methodological barriers to identify information regarding aging of transgender individuals, such as a lack of standardized terminology, compromises public understanding of the topic and inherent issues. The under-recognized need for specialized gender non-conforming care services to support the unique physical and mental experiences of transgender individuals limits their quality of and accessibility to healthcare.

The production of knowledge about aging transgender adults provides a promising opportunity to inform and improve the general understanding of the subject. The collection of information will identify key areas of marginalization to help ameliorate healthcare and social support services for this population.

How the review was done

A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published from 1992 to 2012 was conducted. Studies that focused on transgender aging were included in the review.

A total of 84 studies were identified in searches, and 34 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

The authors did not acknowledge any funding sources for this review.

What the researchers found

Despite the methodological barriers involved in transgender aging research, the studies included in the review highlighted the under-recognized violence and abuse faced by aging transgender individuals, including the difficulty in accessing victim support and violence-prevention services.

Many studies outlined the high rate of verbal and physical discrimination faced by the transgender aging population.

The studies also recognized the lack of gender-sensitive health- and social-care services for aging individuals. This included challenges associated with accessing gender-specific health consultations, health insurance and gender-sensitive social-support networks.

Conclusion

The studies in the review highlighted the discrimination faced by aging transgender individuals in social and health-care settings. Opportunities to improve the well-being of transgender individuals during the aging process seem to exist in a non-binary, gender-sensitive approach to social-support services and healthcare practices. Although the review is comprehensive, there are gaps in the literature, particularly relating to males who -identify as non-conforming genders, as they are under-represented in studies.




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