Gay and Gray Session: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Transgender Aging

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2018 Jul;26(7):719-738. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2018.01.208. Epub 2018 Feb 7.


With the overarching goals of improving the healthcare of older transgender individuals and of inspiring pertinent clinical research, a session at the 2017 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Annual Meeting focused on an interdisciplinary approach to transgender aging. The older the transgender adult, the more likely the individual grew up in a historical context when there was greater social stigma towards their gender identity, even among mental health professionals. In order to provide optimal healthcare to transgender adults, mental health care providers should become familiar with the basic terminology presented in this article. Transgender older adults face greater risks of poor physical health, disability, anxiety and depressive symptoms, victimization, and stigma, and higher rates of smoking, excessive alcohol use, and risky sexual behavior compared with non-transgender older adults. In spite of notable health disparities, some evidence points to resilience among transgender older adults. The mental health professional often serves as the first contact for a patient who is struggling with gender identity. The role of a mental health professional can be divided into five categories: 1) assessment of gender dysphoria; 2) psychoeducation of patients and family members about the diversity of gender identities and various options for alleviating gender dysphoria; 3) referral to and collaboration with other healthcare professionals; 4) treatment of coexisting mental health concerns; 5) advocating for transgender patients and for the transgender community. Recently, the criteria for medical and surgical transition have been simplified. End-of-life preparations are especially important for transgender individuals.

Keywords: LGBT; Transgender Aging; health disparities; sexual and gender minorities.

Publication types

  • Congress

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology*
  • Gender Identity*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Transgender Persons / psychology*