We must respect older people’s varying identities: a message from MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen
Ms. Sirpa Pietikäinen is a Member of the European Parliament committed to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer people (LGBTIQ). She rallies the #AgeingEqual campaign with a call to respect all kinds of gender identity and sexual orientations among older people.
We are each a sum of our experiences. We hold within us a child, a young person, as well as an adult and an older person, depending on our age.
Sexuality or asexuality is a vital part of our experiences, and of our existence and our personality. Due to ageism there is a tendency to label older people as something ‘other’, and to impose stereotypical characteristics on them such as a cute granny or grumpy grandfather. In doing so, we restrict their full personality.
This is a form of silent discrimination that goes against a person’s constitutional rights. We externally predetermine issues which are personal choices, choices which every person should be free to make.
We have to increase knowledge, respect and participatory processes to ensure that older persons are able and facilitated to express all sides of their personality. We have to allow and accept their varying identities and their preferences, including in sexuality-related issues.
These preferences may also impact health care choices or living arrangements, which should not be imposed externally or according to preconceptions, but should offer the same options as to all other adults. We should allow something which is a normal part of every person also in older age!
MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen