Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dear Trans Family...Will You Still Love Me When I'm No Longer Young and Beautiful?

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

There seems to always be an issue to discuss in life, especially in Trans life. This week, in the TMP Forum, I discussed the division in our society over the Men's Health Magazine Contest. A contest that one would naturally think the entire community would rally behind all the contestants and potential first for trans men. Sadly, it only raised debates over "passing" and jealousy. The mentality of the trans hierarchy is to say, once you've transition your gender, you are done. That somehow you will never have to deal with being a transgender person ever again. Many who have, have grown to realize that is an idealistic hypothesis. Gender dysphoria may lessen, but rarely completely goes away. So the second approach is to separate those who are what some call, "passing". Everyone comes up with their list of what it means to be transgender, while simultaneously, expecting the world to accept a people that have yet to define what it means themselves.

What it means to a teenager being bullied in Ohio, we often discuss. What it means for trans women of color living in poverty and forced by society to work in the sex industry, we've discussed. What it means for countless trans men, who unlike their sisters, rarely get to see themselves positively represented in main streams society. Everyone has a complaint, and a story. We even have our own sort of awards show, the trans 100, where we celebrate popularity in our community and pat ourselves on the back. We are bombarded by countless images of before and after pictures of ourselves. Along with numerous documentaries debating the meaning of being transgender.

Where is that discussion for those that have walked this life for countless years and now find themselves elderly, alone, and certainly not represented in the young beautiful, and chiseled current world of trans society? It seems even trans society, like most communities, is not immune from discarding it's elderly. As more people find it easier to live their authentic selves, there are even more that are now becoming senior citizens. A time in life where, heart medication, strokes, and medicine for various illnesses trump taking hormones. My brothers and sisters, ask yourself this; when was the last time you saw a gofundme campaign for an elderly transgender person living on a fixed income, with no family or children to help them? When was the last time you've even seen them acknowledged in our community?

This past week my heart was broken. I watched as an elderly trans advocate of the Charleston South Carolina area, who had been evicted from her apartment, be forced to leave a hotel and to find another place to lay her head. Her first name is Olivia and without her, there would more than likely not be any support system within the trans community in this area. Back in 2000, she formed the local trans support group. There they have guided many to find appropriate therapist and doctors to carry out one's transition. The group now has a local support system of nearly 50 transgender individuals, that attend various meetings, and connection to even more who have been in the past. In fact, if you enjoy TransMusePlanet, know this; that TMP has it's roots and was first thought of and nurtured, in the very group created by Olivia. Due to health, the group's directors have changed over the years, but all members, have always and continue to acknowledge it's founder, Olivia.

One of the reasons she no longer headed the organization was due to a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Last year she underwent deep brain stimulation surgery, to counteract tremors that are associated with Parkinson disease. She has no children and few family support, a place in life that many of us will face if we live to call ourselves elderly. Along with medical expenses, she has found herself near the edge of homelessness. Still transgender, but now elderly, frail, unable to make a living even if she wanted to, and no family.

When I ran into her at the hotel, I was surprised to see her and ask what was she there for. She told me her story, my heart broke. Not in just a sympathetic way, but out of fear. I am one of those trans women, who have never had children, approaching the dreaded 40, and may live to see my parents and older siblings pass away. My fear came from the idea that this one day could be me. What if I found myself, old, frail, and alone in the world. My first thoughts came to you, my TMP readers, and trans family. I had to ask myself, honestly, would my community be there for me? It breaks my heart but the truth is I don't know, and I seriously doubt it.

I look at representation of my community in social media, on television and in news, and all I see is the struggle for young people to be who they are. Once we are living our authentic selves, the only other representation is of the beauty and vigor of today's trans society. Does anyone in our community care about what it even means to be trans and elderly? I fear for all in my community as we grow older. I hope we can move beyond the "look at how beautiful" or "how passable" images we want to throw at mainstream society. I hope we can see that there are many of us, disabled, mentally ill, elderly, that are also transgender and need our support.

What can we do for those like Olivia. I admit, I'm not rich and struggle to pay my way now in life but I hope that this letter to my community urges many to help. Between this blog and it's social network pages, there is at least traffic of 150,000 people. I have started up a go fund me page for Olivia and I'm asking that my community show, that yes, we will still be there for our brothers and sisters when they are no longer young and beautiful.

Will you support and help Olivia? At least share this letter, so someone can.

Sabrina Samone, TMP

To lend your support, please visit the Go Fund Me Page.



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