Aging and Transgender: What Happens To Those Who Age Out Of Activism
While it’s true that some Transgender and gender diverse people have children or families, a great number of us do not. In fact, the more common experience of the younger Trans person is one of familial rejection. In America, 40% of the homeless youth served by shelters and support agencies identify as LGBT. When you consider that LGBT youth represent only about 7% of the total youth population, the statistics are alarmingly and disproportionately high.
In these circumstances, many LGBT people end up creating self-made families when we are abandoned by our own. I am one of those people. There are others, however, who slip into isolation, specifically those struggling with mental illness which prevents them from developing long term friendships or nurturing intimate relationships. Because of this, aging Transgender identifying men and women often end up unwed, childless and alone.
Maggie is a 62 years old Trans woman from New Jersey. She does not have children and was never married. “To the world I was always just gay. I was an effeminate boy, but I knew I was a little girl.”
Maggie’s father kicked her out of their family home when he caught her with a magazine featuring gay pornography. She ended up on the streets, sleeping in abandoned houses or in dumpsters to avoid harsh weather conditions. “There were no people offering help for Transgender people back then except in the bigger cities in small pockets. Sylvia Rivera had a house in Brooklyn called the Star House that was exclusively for young Trans people who had been discarded. But the general focus was really on the gay community, and they had to build it up like you build a city. They laid their groundwork, established resource centers, developed a resistance, fought for their rights, embraced the youth, became political, founded their own stake in society that had momentum, you know? It took 30-some years and a couple generations of non-stop hell. But they became part of our culture, not just a bunch of oddities sitting outside of it.” She says.