I noticed a long time ago in social media postings of parents looking for documentation and support on how to help their children that are transgender come into their own. To help navigate the issues of having a transgender child and be the best affirming and supportive parents that they can possibly be. I have seen all the hatred and blowback from bigots, TERFs and transphobic people pushing their ideologies that feel that the child has mental deficiency or that the parents are guilty of child abuse. But think for a minute, the older transgender population, the ones that must overcome 30 to 50 years of having social stigmas that forced them to push their true selves and feelings down to those deep recesses that we all have in our souls. That this mostly undocumented and hidden part of society should one day be able to stand up and become their authentic selves. But those same social stigmas that forced them into that place in the gender binary, are also the stigmas that older trans people must overcome and reconcile with themselves either before or after coming out as their authentic selves. Some other stigmas that need to be considered and overcome for an older trans person if they decide to transition is what will they lose. Will they have an understanding spouse, will they have family support, and will they have support from their job and profession, or will they be shunned and possibly lose everything to become their authentic selves.
Let’s just think for a moment what it would be like if we stayed within the social binary vision of gender and acquiesced to the transphobic vision. First, the suicide rate for adolescent transgender children would be much higher than they are currently. This younger generation would have nowhere to go or anyone to talk to. There would be no reconciliation of the feelings that they were having, according to the social standards. Their child would be branded and stigmatized by being called “mentally deficient. “Their parents would want to hide their children and not talk to any of their close family friends because of the social stigma that would be placed on the family. The parents would be told by their family physician to send the child to psychiatry or even worse, places for mental conversion. The child might be given drugs or sent to a mental institution where they would receive conversion therapy or in the last resort, shock therapy.
I know, this sounds absolutely and positively barbaric and horrendous, but this is what I was told when I was much younger that would happen to people that were “mentally deficient.“ I sat in the car as my psychiatrist spoke to my mother and father after my fourth visit. They both return to the car and not one word was said on the way home. I remember hearing my mother crying because her child had just been labeled “mentally deficient.“ I figured out at a young age that this type of information, my feelings of wanting to be a girl but being socially labeled as a boy, was going to get me set away, so I started pushing those feelings down deep and that resulted in me acting out. For the next few weeks I became transparent to my father. The one that I looked up to, had now just pushed me away. On the other hand, my mother pulled me in even closer emotionally and started talking to me about my feelings inside. Even as a child I didn’t wish to hurt my mother, so I kept the feelings deep, deep in that place we all have where no one can ever see or touch. She told me that I no longer would be seeing that “doctor,” the child psychiatrist, that they were going to find me a different doctor. After being warned by my father about what happened to mentally deficient people, and after the second visit to the new doctor, I was labeled as hyperactive. I had successfully suppressed all those feelings of being transgender. The child psychiatrist had prescribed a regiment dosage of Ritalin. But little did I know that 40 years later it would all start bubbling back up to the surface, and now I had the weight of social and gender stigma to also deal with.
It’s 2019 and it’s been well over three years since I’ve transitioned. I’ve had to deal with the emotional baggage of being born in the 60’s and the shame that the child psychiatrist laid upon me so many years ago. Most of the adolescent baggage I’ve dealt with in one way or the other, but I still must deal with the transphobic ideologies of today. As an adult I have been able to mostly shield my emotions and feelings from the transphobia and shame from those that sit in the cheap seats and fling at me daily. But now I have another worry, the teenagers and young people that are now coming up and being introduced to this adult transphobic ideology. Being an older trans woman, I feel that my skin is a lot thicker when it comes to defending myself. I constantly push the ideology of acceptance to make way for the younger generation of transgender children. Every chance that I get whether I am on social media or in person, I support and affirm the transgender persons. I feel as an older trans woman, that I am on the cutting edge of that wave of acceptance of transgender people. Hopefully one day I’ll have a much larger visible and audible voice of reason to help the transgender young people of today and tomorrow. I could easily have transitioned and stepped back into the darkness and just blended into society, but I don’t feel that that something that I needed to do. I am here to support and defend trans people as a whole and especially the trans children and teenagers that are now coming into their own.