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The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding
2004); the Virginia study of transgender adults, including a small proportion of older adults, reports similar findings (Xavier et al., 2007). No particular data on older transgender adults are available.
Using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, developed by the World Health Organization, with a previously mentioned sample of 416 LGB elders aged 60–91, Grossman and colleagues (2001) found that gay men had significantly higher levels of alcohol use and problem drinking than lesbians. Valanis and colleagues (2000) found that adult and lifetime lesbians, as well as bisexual women, in their sample had the lowest rates of never smoking and were more likely to be current smokers. They were also the most likely to use alcohol and to use more of it compared with the heterosexual and never sexual groups.
Using data from the Chicago Health and Life Experiences of Women Study, structured interviews were conducted with 447 adult women (aged 18–83) who self-identified as lesbians (48 percent non-Hispanic white, 28 percent non-Hispanic black, and 20 percent Latina). The researchers compared the prevalence of lifetime and 12-month drinking indicators across racial/ethnic groups and across four age groups (including those aged 51 and older, n = 74). Forty-five percent of women in the oldest group reported that they were light drinkers, while 19 percent reported being moderate drinkers and 8 percent being heavy drinkers. While findings from general population surveys have shown that women’s rates of drinking tend to decrease with age, there were few differences across the age groups in this study (Hughes et al., 2006).
In the research of Balsam and colleagues (2005), in which age was treated as a continuous variable, LGB participants were more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to report experiences of childhood sexual abuse; moreover, sexual-minority status significantly predicted all variables of childhood abuse. LGB participants reported higher levels of overall lifetime victimization than their heterosexual counterparts.
In D’Augelli and Grossman’s (2001) research with 416 LGB adults aged 60 or older, the earlier a person was aware of her or his sexual orientation and first disclosed it to others, the more likely he or she was to report incidences of physical assault. Those who had been physically attacked spent more of their lives aware of their sexual orientation. These findings suggest that abuse and victimization may occur at an early age for LGB people. More than one-half (58 percent) of the convenience, online sample of transgender persons over age 50 mentioned earlier reported instances of sexual abuse (defined as “unwanted sexual touch”) prior to age 19 (Cook-Daniels and Munson, 2010). In a life span sample of transgender persons,