Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I am faced with a decision, and for the life of me, I am unable to make a choice. I am wondering if you could give me your two cents worth?
I am transgender — MtF — and 59 years old.
I was diagnosed with this as a medical problem 15 years ago, but things were different in society then, and I hid in the closet. Now, things are better, but still, the Trans community faces a lot of backlash from others.
My primary concern is that even if I have all the necessary procedures and surgeries, will I be accepted into the club as a woman?
If not, then I don't think I can handle the rejection because then I will truly be alone. I know I shouldn't care, and if I were in my 30s, I wouldn’t. It would be a lot easier to make new friends if I was younger, but at my age, it's not as clear cut.
Thanks for your input.
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First, I want to say that I am so sorry that you have felt you needed to hide your true gender for all of these years. And I am so sorry that you are feeling so alone. Indeed, the focus has tended toward younger people who are in various stages of being out with their gender or transitioning. But the number of older folks coming out with their gender or transitioning is rising.
Although I can’t decide what is right for you, I can answer your quandary the best I know how.
I believe that you will be happiest in living as the person you truly are.
I can imagine how scary that feels, to risk losing people you may have in your life now, to not know if you will be able to find a community with which to connect. But I believe in my heart that you will be happier and that you don’t have to go through this alone.
The transgender community indeed faces further marginalization, even among other LGBT folks. But, as you pointed out, that has mostly changed.
Will you be accepted into the "woman club?" By me, yes.
By most people I know, yes. By the people in your everyday life, I don’t know. But I do know that if the people in your life, or anyone you should meet in the future, does not accept you, they are unworthy of having you in their life.
I know that the lack of acceptance from some could potentially feel like a rejection. But I believe the risk is worth it. And I believe you will be happier. And I believe you will find your community.
There is support available. In doing a little digging online, I found quite a few organizations in the US and the UK that provide a variety of resources and can even connect you with peers. If you live in a metropolitan area, there is likely to be more IRL support, but there are organizations in place that aim to connect with transgender folks who live in more isolated areas as well.
Some examples of where to find support as an older transgender person:
- Association of Transgender Professionals
- Facebook Transgender Support Groups
- Forge Forward
- Lavender Seniors
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- Susan’s Place
- Trans Mentors International
- Transgender Pulse
- Transgender Support (UK)
Additional reading on transitioning later in life:
As I stated above, I believe that you will be happier living as who you are. And as scary as it feels to make new friends at the stage in your life, I am confident you can. Please stay in touch, let me know how you’re doing, and if I can be of any assistance in helping you find local resources, don’t hesitate to reach out.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, Danburite, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo