Coming Late to the Party: Transition Later in Life

Older black man with light beard smiling in a t-shirt transition

A lot of attention has been paid of late to the increased number of kids and teenagers who transition. What hasn’t been noticed as much is the increasing number of people who are over 40 or so who are transitioning now.

I transitioned at 57, after a life-long struggle with loving my own body. Many people come to transition later in life. Many of us didn’t have the language around gender and gender identity that exists now, and sometimes it can take a while for that to really land in us, and realize the reality of the things that have been inside us for a long while.

Transition as an older adult

The realities of transitioning as an older adult are different than when people transition earlier in life. There can be many more relationships to navigate, including relationships with children that can present more challenges. Having lived a longer life pre-transition means there’s simply more history behind us – long careers, for instance, or ways in which broad audiences might know us differently.

But none of that should stand in our way – it just means there can be more to navigate. In some ways, I do regret not transitioning earlier, but I realize I wasn’t ready. It was also a lot harder to transition 10, 20, 30 years ago. There were many more barriers, and a conflation of gender and sexuality meant that it was difficult, for instance, for gay trans men, or lesbian trans women to get approval to transition. It was also necessary to adhere to a specific kind of narrative about your gender. All of that has recently loosened significantly, at least in most places in the United States.

Complexities

There are some medical complications that do affect older adults. Hormone therapy might provide some side-effects that need to be managed more. Large invasive surgeries might be out of reach if you are older (for instance, there are lower surgeries that require multiple stages that would be too much to manage for people older than 60.)

It’s worth living your authentic life, no matter how old you are. You can find a way to navigate your transition. It’s never too late!

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