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Trans information and advice

Trans describes people whose gender identity differs to the gender assigned at birth. It’s an umbrella term that embraces many different identities, but this section focuses on people who live, or are seeking to live, permanently in the gender they identify with.

Transitioning can involve medical treatments, but you don’t necessarily have to undergo any treatment to live in your affirmed gender. We introduce some issues here but go into more detail in our factsheet Transgender issues and later life.

Getting older when trans

Your experience of being trans will be influenced by how old you were when you transitioned, and when that was. If you’re in the first generation of older trans people receiving medication it’s likely you will have some unique health needs. Make sure you have a health check at least once a year, and if you sense, see or feel anything unusual about your body, seek medical advice quickly.

Becoming trans in later life

You might think you're too old to transition, or that there’s little point after spending so long living in your assigned gender, but really it’s never too late. Transitioning can make you feel more ‘yourself’ and bring feelings of relief and self-acceptance at any age. 

Older people can successfully transition and start living part-time or permanently in their affirmed gender in just the same way that younger people can. If you’re healthy and receive proper care the treatments involved, including hormone therapy and surgery, carry a low risk. However, if you're older you need to be aware of the limits and potential impact of treatment. If you’d like to know more, speak to your doctor, who may refer you to a Gender Identity Clinic (GIC).

The Gender Recognition Act

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 means you can apply to be recognised in your affirmed gender. You will receive a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) and a new birth certificate if you were born in the UK.

Anyone can legally change their name at any time by deed poll or by a Statutory Declaration.

Make sure you’re clearly identified in your will if you use two names or have only recently begun to live permanently in your affirmed gender. If you are named in someone’s will by your former name, you need your GRC or other paperwork with evidence of your past identity.

The Gender Recognition Act is currently under review.

Pension and benefits

If you have a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), you are treated as your affirmed gender for all legal purposes.

Obtaining a GRC can affect National Insurance contributions, tax liability, and your entitlement to benefits and State Pension that you or your spouse or civil partner may be receiving now or in the future.

You may wish to seek advice from an independent financial advisor in advance of any legal change of gender.

Arranging care

If you're finding it harder to cope by yourself at home, you don't have to struggle alone because there’s help available. Start by contacting your local council to arrange an assessment of your needs.

It’s important to discuss your specific needs with the service that provides your care because you might have complex requirements relating to your gender reassignment or its associated treatment. If you feel awkward about this, remember that care staff have a duty to promote your wellbeing and should always treat you with sensitivity and respect. Topics you should discuss include your personal care and privacy needs, such as medication, shaving or maintaining your hair or wig.

You have the option to receive direct payments so you can arrange services yourself from someone you feel comfortable with. 

Find out more about arranging care

Housing and residential care

If you're thinking of moving to sheltered or residential accommodation, it’s important to do plenty of research and visit places you might be considering. As with care services, consider what’s important to you regarding managing your body and your privacy needs.

You could write down clear instructions for what should happen if you become confused or develop dementia, such as what type of clothing should be bought for you and how you would like to be addressed. You may wish to write an advance statement to make clear how you would like to be treated and your likes and dislikes.

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Last updated: May 10 2022

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