Why Are We Erasing Trans Elders?

Phaylen Fairchild
6 min readApr 20, 2022

It’s time we discuss the generations that we let fall through the cracks.

Recently, a social media post made the rounds from an academic looking to do research on the relationships between trans youth and “Elders.” The criteria as implied in the graphic post asked for trans youth who are between the ages of 18–25 and have been out for less than three years, as well as trans Elders; Those in their mid to late 30's.

The post, hailing from a researcher at Sheffield Hallam University is innocuous enough, not intended by any means to be inflammatory or provocative, but fetched a response that the researcher themselves, a non-binary person, didn’t anticipate.

A 35–39 year old person is not an Elder. Statistic have shown us that many trans people have not arrived at their full destination regarding their gender at 35 and are still navigating the difficult terrain of identity. While increased visibility and broader awareness of transgender people in general- sadly coming as a result of the relentless political attacks on our rights- it has allowed people to embrace their gender earlier in life.

Our society has put a lot of emphasis on trans youth and young adults. We’ve created significant supportive systems such as college advocacy groups and statewide programs for LGBTQ young folks in workplace environments, essay competitions, employment opportunities and more. While we have a long way to go, we’ve climbed many mountains in terms of progress… for current and future generations.

But what about the 80 year old transgender woman who wrote to me recently. She lives on her own, transitioned in the early 1970’s, witnessed the rise of the LGBTQ+ movements and the evolution of vocabulary and the shift in our communities relationship with our peers and the institutions that govern us.

She also feels left behind.

“I’m invisible,” She said to me via an email. “I never got to the part where I could be seen. You see, I never lived with regret. I was always out as a trans woman. I was beaten up, assaulted, laughed at, rejected by family, fired from multiple jobs, evicted from my apartment, arrested for my clothes not being appropriate for my sex. I still didn’t care. I wasn’t going to live in shame, I knew I was a good, quality…

Phaylen Fairchild

Actor, Filmmaker, LGBTQ+ & Women’s Rights Activist All work copyright phaylens@gmail.com