Sudbury·Audio

Darlyn Hansen teaches transgender sensitivity to Sudbury care workers

An advocate for transgender people in Sudbury says there are up to 20 seniors in the city who want to "come out" publicly as transgender, but they wonder how they'll be treated at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Transgender seniors fear discrimination in health care scenarios, long-term care homes

Darlyn Hansen, 75, lived most of her life "in the wrong body." Now, the Sudbury woman advocates for other transgender seniors, and helps to educate their care workers. (Kate Rutherford)

How many transgender seniors are there in Sudbury? An activist is helping them come out. Darlyne Hanson joined us to tell us her story and to talk about the fears that keep seniors from expressing themselves fully in their golden years. 6:21
An advocate for transgender people in Sudbury says there are up to 20 seniors in the city who want to "come out" publicly as transgender, but they wonder how they'll be treated at a vulnerable time in their lives. 

Darlyne Hansen, 75, said people around the city have been coming out to her online. 

"There's all different groups and whatnot and, if you really surf [the internet] you will find them," she said.

People need to express who they are.- Hugh Kruzel, Canadian Association of Retired People (Sudbury chapter)

Hansen was already a senior citizen when she came out as a woman. She said she spent most of her life "in the wrong body."

For that reason, Hansen said she understands that other trans-seniors are afraid they'll be misunderstood in long-term care homes — and that's why she recently helped to organize an education session for personal care workers. 

"The biggest thing [I tell them in the training] is 'don't be scared of the person, for one thing, because he or she is just an ordinary human being'," she said. "The only thing that might be different is the plumbing."

Hansen said that confidentiality is also important, because people might not be out to everyone in their lives. 

CARP support

The senior transgender community has an ally in the Sudbury chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired People, also known as CARP. 

Hugh Kruzel is the chair.

"I don't think there would be any hesitation on the part of the local chapter or indeed CARP as a national organization to embrace the ideas that people need to express who they are," he said. 

Kruzel said he'll take this issue to the next national meeting to discuss how CARP can advocate for these seniors.

Hansen is also on the Senior's Action Committee in Sudbury.

That group plans to start visiting long-term care homes to explain how to be sensitive to transgender seniors.

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