THE rights of older LGBTI Australians when it comes to their end-of-life planning are often ‘invisible’ and neglected, sexual and gender diverse advocates in Victoria say.
Transgender Victoria (TGV) and The Council on the Ageing (COTA) have called on older LGBTI people across the state to complete a new survey that will help the organisations develop tailored end-of-life planning resources.
“Death is an emotional enough time for anyone but when you have conflicting stuff going on as a member of the LGBTI community, it makes it hard,” she said.
“I’ve been to the funerals of trans people that have been dead-named and mis-gendered which is horrible.
“There are also cases where an older LGBTI person comes out later in life and hasn’t updated their will.”
Trans woman Edna is in her 80s and living with dementia in an aged care facility.
While her wife and daughter accepted her as a woman when she transitioned back in the 1970s, her son did not. Because of this, Edna is currently living as a male at the facility.
In a study conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health, and Society at La Trobe University, a spokesperson from the aged care facility described the impact Edna’s family have had on her.
“The children were only early teens at the time of Edna’s transition, and they’re having problems adjusting – still forty years later,” they said.
“The reason why Edna is living as a male here is because the son said ‘if you don’t – if you embarrass us and don’t dress like a man, you won’t see any grandchildren’.
“So that’s why Edna has been living as a male here. Not that the son brings his children in much, but that threat was made.”
The spokesperson said it’s sad that Edna can’t be who she wants to be.
“Prior to Edna coming here, she was living as a female and dressing as a female” they said.
“The only thing you might pick up on here is when she goes out, the bag she takes with her is a lady’s bag.
“So coming here has been a change, but not of her own choice. But she’s accepted it. Because she wants her family. It’s very sad.”
Through the new survey, TGV and COTA are hoping to develop resources to ensure older LGBTI people can avoid being discriminated against when it comes to end-of-life planning.
Goldner said when the resources are created she hopes they will be available online, as well as potentially distributed via funeral directors, or community legal centres.
“It’s not thought about because heteronormativity and cisnormativity are so dominant in society,” she said.
“We’re encouraging as many people who directly identify as LGBTI as well as family members to complete this survey, we want as many perspectives as possible because we acknowledge how difficult these issues can be.”