Why the focus on sexual and gender minority people?
This forum will provide occasional information about this network, and about adult abuse and neglect, especially as it relates to sexual and gender minority (SGM) adults on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
Our varied SGM communities suffer all the predictable adult abuse and neglect of the population at large, however some of our communities experience more abuse and neglect than average.
Our communities also suffer the abuse and neglect generated by, or intensified through homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism.
When we think about the causes of abuse and neglect we often focus primarily on the people who are responsible, and not the social and organizational processes that support inappropriate behaviour. Much abuse and neglect is systemic in nature. The Government of Canada recently apologized to SGM people who were seriously harmed by abusive systems and policies.
But even today various systems do not consistently take into consideration the strengths, needs and particular circumstances of the diverse genders and sexual orientations of the people they are mandated to serve. This too results in neglect and abuse.
Here is one example among MANY others.
As adults and their networks age into their most senior years, many will not be able to rely on younger people in biological family or networks in times of need.
Some people are moving to the Islands for retirement and leaving behind functioning support networks. Others may lose biological family or networks when they come out later in life, have only have similarly aged people in their support networks, or are without adequate support networks. As SGM seniors age and experience disabilities, people in their friendship and support networks may also be in the same situation.
In addition, many social services do not explicitly welcome SGM seniors. Seniors who may have experienced a lifetime of often intense personal and systemic discrimination may be mistrusting of care providers and helping systems, very reluctant to ask for help, and unlikely to be forthcoming about their sexual orientation or gender identity when they do make use of services.
As a result, some SGM seniors are very isolated and are not having their needs met. Another consequence is that organizations that are not serving or recognizing SGM seniors continue to ignore them. In addition, organizations that serve SGM seniors without recognizing them are neither providing truly client-centered care nor harnessing the potential of the social support networks that SGM seniors may still have. A survey done a few years ago in one of the districts served by Vancouver Costal Health Authority showed that personal care homes were not aware of ANY SGM residents.
The extent of the problem on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands is unknown.
Future posts will focus on person-level, community-level and system-level prevention and education, not only on problems, but also solutions.
Relevant content suggestions are very welcome.