Reluctant educators and self-advocates: older trans adults’ experiences of healthcare services and practitioners in seeking gender affirming services

Paul Willis*, Christine Dobbs, Evans Elizabeth, Michele Raithby, Jenny-Anne Bishop

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Trans-identifying individuals experience unique barriers and challenges in negotiating healthcare systems due to the cisnormative attitudes and practices which obstruct the receipt of trans-inclusive care. To date, there has been little exploration of older trans consumers’ experiences of contemporary healthcare services when seeking to transition medically in later life.

Objectives: Qualitative findings are presented from a study of trans ageing and trans-related health and social care needs in Wales, UK (2016-18). The objectives are to: 1) examine supportive and obstructive points of interaction with healthcare professionals, and 2) identify key learning messages for improving trans-related healthcare from the perspectives of trans-identifying adults in later life.

Design: Trans-identifying participants self-selected to take part in two interviews – a life-history interview and a semi-structured interview. Interview data was analysed thematically using the framework method approach.

Setting and participants: This paper focuses on the accounts of 19 participants (50-74 years of age) who identified as trans and were seeking to transition medically in mid to later life.

Results: Findings indicate how older trans patients are positioned as reluctant educators for GPs in primary care settings and illustrate the transphobic practices and cisnormative assumptions encountered across healthcare interactions and systems that impede their journey of transitioning in later life.

Discussion and conclusions: Messages from this study speak to the importance of improving professionals’ knowledge of gender identity diversity across the lifecourse and making changes at a systemic level in redressing cisnormative assumptions and systems that reinforce inequities on the basis of gender identity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Expectations
Early online date16 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jul 2020

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Research in Health and Social Care


  • older age
  • ageing
  • gender
  • gender identity
  • trans
  • transgender
  • trans-related healthcare
  • healthcare
  • equality
  • general practitioners


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