213
Chapter 15
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
and Transgender Aging
in These Divided States
K. Abel Knochel and Jean K. Quam
Contents
Division by Age Cohort ....................................................................................215
Division by Geography......................................................................................216
Rural and Urban ...........................................................................................216
Division by States’ LGBT-Related Legal Rights .................................................217
Housing and Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Policy .................218
Employment Nondiscrimination ..................................................................219
Relationship Recognition ............................................................................. 220
States’ Distinctions in Aging Services .................................................................221
Division by Social Identity ................................................................................223
Race and Ethnicity ........................................................................................223
Gender .........................................................................................................223
Religion and Spirituality ...............................................................................224
Division by Health ............................................................................................224
Mental Health ..............................................................................................224
Physical Health .............................................................................................224
Conclusion ........................................................................................................225
References ........................................................................................................ 226
214Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Civil Rights
A signicant divide exists in this country between the young and the old and the
divide is getting greater. Increasingly, concerns are expressed that a shrinking pop-
ulation of middle-aged and young adults will support a rapidly expanding popula-
tion of old adults. Despite the fact that the retirement age is moving upward and
many older people are working part time or full time, old adults are living longer
and will require more social and health-related services. Over 2,000 adults in the
United States were surveyed in a recent Gallup survey. Older adults are planning
for retirement beyond age 65 because they are concerned that their savings will not
support them; costs for housing, food, and health care are going up; and they may
earn more if they wait longer to retire (Brandon 2010).
How does the “Great Divide” apply to a population of old lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and/or transgender (LGB and T) adults? As with any cohort, there may be sig-
nicant, within-group dierences based on race/ethnicity, gender, age, geography,
socioeconomic status, or religious aliation. LGB and T older adults may also
dier based on physical and mental health, age cohort (“Baby Boomer” or “oldest
old”), and geography (rural, suburban, or urban locales with policies that either
protect or discriminate against LGB and T people).
Even the term “LGBT,” an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender,
is something of a divide. Gender identity and sexual orientation are separate identi-
ties. A person’s gender identity is their sense of themselves as a man, a woman, or
a gender that combines or is outside of these genders. A person’s attraction toward
certain types of people and their expression of that attraction indicate their sex-
ual orientation. ese two identities are often conated in the mainstream in a
way that subsumes transgender identity as a category within sexual orientation.
Further, organizations that use the acronym LGBT in their name and mission
statement may claim to represent all of these identities while primarily dedicat-
ing their resources and work to issues of sexual orientation. We use the term LGB
and T to draw attention to the distinctions between these identities. For purposes
of this paper, we consider “old” as over the age of 65 years, which is a generally
accepted denition.
Many studies acknowledge that LGB and T old adults are a group that may
not want to or is not yet able to be counted (Meezan and Martin 2011). For the
oldest members of this group, early life experiences have led to fear and mistrust
of “coming out” to anyone. A number of dierent models exist of stages of the
coming out process (Hunter 2007). However, it is clear that self-identication
as a gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender person is unique at dierent stages
of the life cycle. Coming out involves disclosure to self and others (e.g., family,
friends, work colleagues, neighbors) and living actively in a nondominant gender
identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. One may have more emotional
and psychological resources when the coming out process occurs later in life
or one might be so entrenched in a heterosexual or cisgender identity of many
years that coming out is far more dicult than it might have been when one was
younger.

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