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Tushara

Tushara Wickramariyaratne

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: Australian Capital Territory Health And Medicine > Aged Care
Health And Medicine > Mental Health
To investigate models of psychological care for older transgender and gender diverse individuals - USA, Canada, Netherlands

Older transgender people have consistently been found to have poor mental health due to being a doubly marginalised group- experiencing stressors associated with ageing such as increased risk of cognitive decline, chronic medical conditions and functional impairment, but also a lifetime of stigma and discrimination due to their gender identities. Despite challenges, trans and gender diverse elders1 show resilience and appear to be ageing successfully. With Australia's ageing population, there will be a growing group of trans and gender diverse seniors requiring specialised care. To date, there has been increasing focus on services and programs targeting LGBTI seniors in Australia more generally, but few specifically tailored for trans and gender diverse older adults, or focused on clinical practice. Therefore, the project aimed to investigate established models of care that enhance the psychological wellbeing of trans and gender diverse older adults in Canada, USA, Denmark and the Netherlands. Findings from the project suggest that multiple levels of support are essential, from the individual level to state and federal level legislative protections.

Recommendations:

  1. Gender expression and gender identity must be recognised as separate protected attributes in state and federal legislation.
  2. Increase knowledge of Australian Indigenous diverse gender identities in order to identify needs of trans and gender diverse older people in Indigenous populations.
  3. Foster a culture of acceptance of all people by celebrating individual differences and individual freedoms.
  4. A range of community support programs must be made available and accessible for older trans and gender diverse individuals to reduce social isolation.
  5. Trans-affirmative residential aged care facilities must be made available for trans and gender diverse elders to access.
  6. Mandatory trans-affirmative training must be provided to anyone caring for older adults, including staff at all levels of aged care services and all clinicians.
  7. Support groups for significant others must be made available and accessible in order to improve the outcomes for trans and gender diverse elders.
  8. Trans and gender diverse older adults must be able to access trans-affirmative primary healthcare, medical treatments and psychotherapy to enhance their emotional wellbeing.
  9. A person-centred approach is essential in dementia care for trans and gender diverse elders.
  10. Commonwealth and State and Territory governments must provide funding to increase access to programs for communities and individuals that are vulnerable. 
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