The impact of life experiences

There are roughly 2 million people age 50 and older in the U.S. who identify as LGBTQ+ (Fredriksen-Goldsen, 2011, p. 3). They are a generation that came out at a time when being gay or transgender was considered a mental illness. When same-sex marriage was illegal across the board. When discrimination against any minority sexual orientation or gender identity ran high. Those experiences gathered over a lifetime inform the state of our country’s aging LGBTQ+ population today, creating unique challenges but also a deep reservoir of resilience.

Take, for example, Tina and Jackie, who were born in the same year and attended the same college. But Tina is straight, and Jackie is gay. Watch this video to see how their lives progress. In the fictional storyline, you can see how legal barriers and systemic discrimination could create two very different pictures later in life.

YouTube video


Movement Advancement Project. (2017, May 24). Aging as LGBT: Two stories [Video]. YouTube.

Fredriksen-Goldsen, K., Kim, H.J., Barkan, S., Muraco, A., & Hoy-Ellis C. P. (2011). The aging and health report: Disparities and resilience among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults. Institute for Mutigenerational Health.

Gender Identity Gender identity icon Our core sense of who we are as a man, a woman, a mixture of both, or neither.

Gender Expression Gender expression icon How we show up in the world through choices like clothing, hair style, mannerisms or tone of voice.

Attraction attraction icon How we feel toward others sexually, romantically and/or emotionally.

Biological Sex Biological sex icon Physical attributes such as reproductive organs and genitalia, chromosomes, genes and hormone levels.

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