Friday, January 12, 2018: 2:45 PM
Liberty BR Salon I (ML 4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
< style="text-align: left;">Background and purpose: Shifting historical, social, and cultural context frames life experiences among transgender midlife and older adults and the impact of life events. Though limited, existing literature identifies common life experiences among transgender adults including identity disclosure and coming out, discrimination and (trans)gender-based violence, and achieved/ascribed relationships. This study considers how the historical and environmental context intersect with specific life events related to identity, social relationships and work among transgender midlife and older adults, aged 50 and older. Methods: Utilizing data from Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study, the largest study to date of LGBTQ midlife and older adults (N = 2,450), we assessed the likelihood of key life events among transgender midlife and older adults. Although most previous research combines all transgender people into a single category, in this exploratory analysis we stratify the sample by gender, which resulted in three groups: transgender women, transgender men, and non-binary individuals. Results: This study uses a subsample of transgender older adults (n = 183) from the 2014 survey. Significant differences were found between trans men, trans women, and non-binary individuals. Non-binary individuals had the oldest age of awareness and disclosure, and the highest rates of participation in anti-discrimination activism (91.15%, as compared to 76.24% for transgender respondents overall). Non-binary individuals also were least likely to have religious involvement. Trans men were the youngest in terms of first awareness and age of first disclosure. In addition, they were the least out, least likely to participate in activism, and had the highest rates of religious and spiritual involvement. Compared to the total sample of LGBTQ older adults, transgender older adults reported significantly high rates of job-related discrimination and involuntary job loss; with trans men having the lowest rate of retirement across all older adults. Military service was also elevated among trans older adults, particularly among trans women. Of the total trans sample, trans women had the highest rates of job-related discrimination (not hired, not promoted, and being fired). Trans women were most out as compared to trans men and non-binary individuals. Among the older adults in general, 9.27% had never been married or partnered. Trans women had significantly higher rates (26.40%) of never being married or partnered, while trans men (6.56%) had one of the lowest rates. These findings indicate the heterogeneity of experience of older adult trans men, trans women, and non-binary individuals across the life course, and key life events are incredibly varied. Conclusions and Implications: Historical context frames both normative and non-normative life events and trajectories of LGBTQ midlife and older adults. Future research will benefit from the use of longitudinal data and a comprehensive assessment of timing and sequencing of key life events and transitions of transgender older adults. Taking into the consideration the heterogeneity in these populations and the growing trend of not using binary categories of gender, the development of inclusive and validated measures of gender identity and expression are imperative.