What is being done to support trans older people facing intimate and domestic abuse?

Hafford-Letchfield, Trish and McCormack, Keira; Toze, Michael and Willis, Paul and Hafford-Letchfield, Trish, eds. (2024) What is being done to support trans older people facing intimate and domestic abuse? In: Trans and Gender Diverse Ageing in Care Contexts. The Policy Press, Bristol. ISBN 9781447370024 (In Press)

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The stigma, discrimination and violence faced by trans people globally is pervasive and well-documented (Arayasirikul et al, 2022). Whilst there is growing appreciation of intimate partner violence (IPV) and domestic abuse (DA) in relationships for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) populations, trans people are a group of ‘hidden victims’ due to very little literature on their experiences (Gelles, 1997, p96). The dearth of empirical work and invisibility of trans people when exploring intimate and familial relationships and the environments in which it takes place, sits within the broader picture of LGB people being at an elevated risk of IPV (Langenderfer-Magruder et al., 2016: Valentine et al., 2017). This chapter considers what is known about DA and IPV perpetrated against trans people in later life alongside any literature on adult safeguarding that might overlap in presentation (Cook-Daniels, 2010). This lack of visibility of older people who are gender diverse, the failure to ask or record gender identity when people are accessing or using support services and/or the fear of sharing information by trans and non-binary individuals with professionals and service providers, are all contributing factors in the failure in being able to screen, recognise and assess IPV and DA. This chapter is written from our experience of working in the UK as a trans historied woman and cis woman, one of whom has extensive practice expertise in DA and the other in researching LGBTQ+ later life experience of health and social care. We draw on the sparse but important body of work on trans DA along some of the broader literature on identity abuse. This is used to articulate what can be learned to support trans people better in later life who have, or may be experiencing DA. We first consider what is known about the broader issues of violence against trans people before going on to highlight the types of violence experienced by trans individuals and the settings in which DA and IPV occur. We highlight the epistemological, political, and social context for trans DA and look at barriers and challenges in identifying, reporting, and responding to DA for trans people in later life given the lack of research and practice guidance in health and social care. We then illustrate the barriers they may face in help-seeking and summarise the key points for informing improved practice in both prevention and interventions with older trans people with pointers for further research.