Not in the family : trans people’s experiences of family relationships and the implications for support in later life

Hafford-Letchfield, Trish and Cocker, Christine and McCormack, Keira and Manning, Rebecca; Toze, Michael and Willis, Paul and Hafford-Letchfield, Trish, eds. (2024) Not in the family : trans people’s experiences of family relationships and the implications for support in later life. In: Trans and Gender Diverse Ageing in Care Contexts. The Policy Press, Bristol. ISBN 9781447370024 (In Press)

[thumbnail of Hafford-Letchfield-etal-2024-Not-in-the-family-trans-peoples-experiences] Text. Filename: Hafford-Letchfield-etal-2024-Not-in-the-family-trans-peoples-experiences.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only until 19 July 2025.
License: Strathprints license 1.0

Download (384kB) | Request a copy


This chapter looks more closely at the challenges and opportunities that trans people face when accessing family and social support in later life. Social support is often cited as an important factor contributing to subjective well-being as one gets older (Diener and Seligman, 2002) and earlier chapters have already discussed some of the cumulative life experiences for trans people, which may impact on access to health and social care services they may use to support themselves in later life. In some global regions, there is a general presumption that an ageing population will give rise to an increased need for health and social care services. This is a complex picture (The Health Foundation, 2021) and the demand for care will also be influenced by the availability of unpaid and informal care provided by family and friends. The picture for trans people in later life however may be more complex in terms of who is best placed to support them and the choices they have available. In chapter 7, Callahan and colleagues articulated some of the pro-active choices and responses to care barriers experienced when engaging with services that have historically not welcomed them. In chapter 4, Toze highlighted the health and social care network alternatives created by and for trans people, but which are often small and fragile and vulnerable to macro-economic and political influences. To be able to plan future service delivery effectively, policymakers will need to understand how any changes in population structure will impact overall demand; other authors in this book have discussed some of the barriers and necessary changes required to achieve this in relation to the ageing trans population. A social constructionist approach can also help us to critically examine discourses present within the wider cultural environment about ageing, families, and caring and to challenge normative understandings about what a family is, to appreciate what might be different, similar, or unique for older trans people. This chapter draws on some of the themes from the authors’ findings in relation to a systematic review on the international literature on what is known about trans parenting (Hafford-Letchfield et al, 2019). This review established that there were very limited findings on grandparenting and parenting later in the lifecourse, as well as where a parent is trans, how the dynamics of family life impacted on their subsequent lifecourse experiences. We summarise the relative themes from this body of literature to examine the potential implications for accessing and developing support in later life particularly where individual parenting rights have been transgressed and subsequent inequalities interact with planning for future care. We then draw on some unreported empirical data from a subsequent UK study of professional perspectives on trans parenting (Hafford-Letchfield et al, 2021). This includes contributions from one trans participant who shared their reflections on their own family life and growing older, and one medical professional working with a trans older person referred to a Gender Identity Clinic. Combined with other literature sources, we aim to summarise key messages for professional practice with trans people in later life in response to these findings.