Transition: The Pathway to Primordial Happiness or Another Vehicle of Oppression

By Stephen Pugh and Stephen Lonsdale.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper argues that transition for some older people in western societies, may be a long held aspiration and viewed as the mechanism for resolving life long profound feelings of dislocation given that their biological body may be the antithesis of their felt and/or desired gender. The act of transitioning may be viewed as the pathway to their own primordial happiness - a dream that finally brings an end to decades of feeling uncomfortable with their own body and the resultant heartfelt unhappiness
However, the reality is such that the act of transition may in fact become another vehicle of oppression as transgendered older people experience hostile social reactions to their changed gendered identity on the basis of gender, sexuality and age. The pervasiveness of these oppressive social constructs in western societies is such that the very professional groups that afford both access to and the maintenance of the means to resolve their felt dislocation may themselves be imbued with oppressive attitudes. As a result, the act of transition becomes both the achievement of a life long dream and the vehicle of oppression as they become dependent on others for the very continuation of their new gendered identity.

Keywords: Transgendered Older People, Gender Identity, Sexuality, Age, Ageism, Oppression, Health Care Professionals

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.195-202. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 527.617KB).

Stephen Pugh

Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Community Health Sciences and Social Care, University of Salford, Manchester, UK

Stephen describes himself as a queer gerontologist as his primary research and academic interests rest in issues related to older lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people. Stephen is also interested issues related to older black and minority ethnic people, abuse of older people and social work with older people. He is a trustee of a local Age Concern and is the independent chair of the local multidisciplinary protecting vulnerable adults committee. He is currently undertaking doctoral study exploring issues of identity for older lesbians and gay men.

Stephen Lonsdale

Post-graduate student, School of Community, Health Sciences and Social Care, University of Salford, Manchester, UK

Stephen currently works as a senior social worker within a mental health crisis home resolution treatment team. Stephen is currently undertaking his Master's degree in Gereontology at the University of Salford. He has a specific interest in researching issues and social concepts related to experiences of older people both post and pre-operative transexuals. Stephen is hoping to produce a dissertation pertaining to the issues which surround both male-to-female and female-to-male older people within a socially constructed society. It is Stephen's belief that older transgendered people experience a hierarchy of oppression from groups which are already marginalised. Stephen believes due to the physiological changes the body experiences as it ages choices for older transgendered people may become limited because surgical intervention may be a high risk option, thus older transgendered people are forced to make choices about how best to asimulate their own physical construction and identity.


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