Online Program

Aging Transgender Adults in Massachusetts: Social Stress, Mental Health, and Physical Health Indicators

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Jaclyn White Hughto, MPH, Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Sari Reisner, ScD, Epidemiology/ The Fenway Institute, Harvard School of Public Health/ Fenway Health, Boston, MA

Background: Transgender people face common challenges to aging including deteriorating health, fixed incomes, and limited social support - burdens which can be exacerbated by being a member of a highly stigmatized group.

Methods: In 2013, transgender adult residents of Massachusetts completed a cross-sectional electronic survey. The demographic and physical and mental health of 61 transgender adults ages 50-75 were descriptively analyzed to characterize the health and wellbeing of this subpopulation.

Results: Participants had a mean age of 58 (SD=6), 77% were male-to-female spectrum, and 79% were non-Hispanic White. The majority (62%) were single and 57% earned less than $35,000 annually. Almost half (46%) had experienced discrimination in a public setting in the past 12 months (e.g., in hospital, restaurant, transportation), with 50% reporting emotional- and 29% physical symptom reactions to mistreatment. Participants reported a variety of chronic disease diagnoses including high cholesterol (34%), hypertension (33%), and arthritis (30%). More than half (52%) had been diagnosed with depression in their lifetime, 39% anxiety and 30% PTSD; 48% were currently receiving some form of mental health treatment. Participants had an average of 4 (SD=3) close friends and 52% had family who were supportive of their transgender status.

Conclusion: Aging transgender adults in Massachusetts experience a variety of social stressors alongside adverse physical and mental health outcomes. Additional research is needed to understand how aging, transgender identity, and social support including social connectivity and family support can be leveraged in future interventions to protect the health and wellbeing of this vulnerable aging population.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Identify the frequency of adverse physical and mental health factors affecting aging transgender adults. Define the social stressors impacting aging transgender adults. Describe the level of social connectivity and support in an aging sample of transgender adults.

Keyword(s): Aging, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the co-principal investigator and project manager of multiple federal and industry-funded studies to improve the mental and sexual health of sexual and gender minority populations. My research interests include HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, substance abuse, mental health and LGBT health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.