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Interdisciplinary Approach to Transgender Aging

Am J Geriatr Psych; ePub 2018 Feb 7; Johnson, et al

With the overarching goals of improving the health care 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. In a recent literature review, investigators found that 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 to non-transgender older adults. In spite of notable health disparities, however, 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 and the role of a mental health professional can be divided into 5 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 health care professionals;
  4. Treatment of coexisting mental health concerns; and
  5. Advocating for transgender patients and for the transgender community.

Johnson K, Yarns BC, Abrams JM, Calbridge LA. Sewell DD. 2017 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Annual Meeting Gay and Gray Session: An interdisciplinary approach to transgender aging. [Published online ahead of print February 7, 2018]. Am J Geriatr Psych. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2018.01.208.