THE FUTURE IS NOW! Safeguarding End of Life for Older LGBTI Victorians…

The Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria and Transgender Victoria (TGV) are seeking to understand the needs of the LGBTI community in relation to planning for future care and medical needs, financial and estate planning as well as funeral and burial wishes. 

Is this important for you?

What are your biggest concerns about getting older? Protecting your assets? Making sure your partner or family of choice has the right to be informed and to make the important decisions about your care and treatment (when you are no longer able to)?

If you are an older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Gender Diverse or Intersex person, you may have to go the extra mile to make sure your partner or family of choice is not sidelined. The documents that make this possible include a Will, Powers of Attorney and Advance Care Directives.

However, as Sally Goldner (see image) Executive Director of TGV notes, many older LGBTI people do not have these safeguards in place. This is a critical gap in planning and is likely compounded by barriers to information and services.

Our project aims to address this gap in planning by developing information resources specifically

tailored for the circumstances of older LGBTI Victorians. We hope these resources will support the community in taking charge of their future.

CASE EXAMPLES

These case studies are from: Crameri, P., Barrett, C., Lambourne, s., & Latham, J. R. (2015). We are still gay, and evidence based resource exploring the experiences and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans Australians living with dementia. Melbourne: Australian research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University.

  • Gavin & Richard

We’ve been together nine years. Richard was diagnosed [with Alzheimer’s Disease] in 2008. We’re having a bit of a battle with this relative over power of attorney. The relative wrote to the guardianship tribunal in response to my application for guardian. She wrote to the tribunal to oppose my – not my health and welfare guardianship, she’s quite happy for me to look after him – but the financial bit. So in her evidence she said “I’m only grateful that my children are of an appropriate sexual orientation”. I picked up on that, it is a bit homophobic. I find it very, very stressful writing my subsequent response to the tribunal…it was stressful and until I sent it off…it was constantly on my mind.

  • Edna

Edna is in her 80s and living with dementia in a residential aged care facility. Edna transitioned from male to female in the 1970s. Edna was married at the time and had two children. While her wife and daughter accepted her as a woman, her son did not. When Edna was admitted into an aged care facility following a stay in hospital, she appeared as a man called Harvey. Edna’s story was told by the residential aged care service where she lived:

“We really didn’t know a lot about this gentleman before he came in. We found out on the paperwork. When he came in… And, um, one of the staff went to assist him and got a terrible shock that – I’m saying “him” because that’s the way he’s living at the moment. He had a gender reassignment in 1975 from male to female. Quite a long time ago. And when the nurse was toileting him she noticed that his anatomy was different. And he just – he told her what it was all about.

She nearly fell over. She really got a shock and I’d been reading the paperwork anyway, by this time, when the nurse came to me. The paperwork was pretty clinical, it just said that he’d had the “gender reassignment”. So then we start putting things together ourselves. The rest of the staff were informed and took it from there. There’s been no issues whatsoever about his situation.

As far as the staff go, he’s settled in well. His dementia has progressed now… but he actually lives here as a male. Dresses as a male. He blends in quite well. A very nice person.

The children were only early teens at the time of Edna’s transition, and they’re having problems adjusting – still 40 years later. The reason why this gentleman, Harvey, is living as a male here is because the son said, ‘If you don’t – if you embarrass us and you don’t dress like a man, you won’t see any grandchildren.’ So that’s why he’s living as a male here. Not that the son brings his children in much, but that threat was made. And there’s issues over money and that’s very distressing for Edna. So the biggest impact has been the family towards him. Not the staff or other residents.

So you can see this time and what the family has been through is impacting on this poor man who can’t be who he wants to be. And that’s the biggest – I think that’s the saddest thing. Prior to him coming – or being admitted here, he was living as a female. Dressing as a female. The only thing you might pick up on here is when he goes out, his bag that he takes with him is a lady’s bag. But it’s not overtly a lady’s bag, but it is a lady’s bag. So coming here has been a change – gone full circle back to – But not of his own choice. But he’s accepted it. Because he wants his family. It’s very sad. I think the issues though, have impacted on his dementia – Family issues. “

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS

COTA and TGV will work with older LGBTI people to co-design resources specifically for the community. We are looking for volunteers from the community to contribute to this project.

You can be involved in one or more of the following ways:

  • By completing an anonymous survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/lgbti-thefutureisnow or by requesting a hard copy (contact details below)
  • By participating in a focus group
  • By sharing your story (anonymously, if you like)
  • By appearing in a video about the importance of planning for the future

For more information, please contact: