Young vs Middle aged Emergers

When the New York Times announced in November 1966 that Johns Hopkins was doing the operation it made the whole thing a lot more real for me than it had been when I ahd read April Ashley’s account of getting SRS in Casablanca.

Five years later I was in the Stanford program and was co-running the NTCU.  We were in SF and the majority of people we were counseling were under 30.  We mainly liked guys.  But some of us liked women.

When we went to the group at Stanford we met those coming out in middle age and while some liked men most had been involved with women and had often fathered children.

Jan Maxwell and I discussed this and we postulated that with SRS becoming widely available along with the climate of greater sexual freedom those coming out in middle age would instead all start coming out younger.

We wrongly though that the ability to get the operation was the determining factor.

10, 20, 30 years later and I’m a respected pioneer and groups will at least buy me dinner to speak/visit their group.  What do I see but the same exact mix of young emergers vs middle aged.

Now I think all the psychopathologicalization is one steaming pile of bullshit.  99.99% of it flunks the Occam’s razor test.

But being an autodidact/otaku with access to a computer starting in 1996 I started being an obnoxious bitch and probing for some answers.

I listened to what people had to say and then I asked , “Why, how come?”

Now the first answer and the most easily dismissible was, “There wasn’t any information.”

Now as an autodidact I searched every single fragment of possible information and any information that could have even the vaguest connection.

I wasn’t the only one as most WBT memoirs describe doing the exact same thing.

Then on Trans-theory I met someone who was my virtual demographic identical twin.  We were both from small towns, were the same age and lived around the corner from each other in the Haight Ashbury.

The more I dug at her and the more I pissed her off the more I started to see the role fear played.

I had formed self awareness and knowledge of being transsexual as a result of physical obviousness and getting caught dressing up.  Getting busted resulted in being labeled.

I tried to hide the stigma (Erving Goffman has a good book called “Stigma”) without much success.  But it didn’t take all that much effort to imagine that if I had not been caught, labeled and too obvious to hide it I might have given into the fear of stigmatization and done almost anything to hide it.

After all the socialization of transkids generally includes bullying, parental abuse and often medical abuse aimed at masculinizing us.

Forget the mailitary careerists.  That is building a mask so thick I’m amazed any ever are able to break out.

I wanted to become a history teacher.  I was told I would never be allowed to teach because I was too obvious.

Then in 1968 at a point when I was just about ready to come out I met a girl from Canada whose husband had run off and left her stranded in Sproul Plaza, Berkeley.  She approached me assuming I was gay and safe.  I brought her back to my collective in San Francisco and we spent about 10 days together.  We cuddled, slept together, dropped acid and made love.  I could function as a male while on acid. I really liked her.

Suppose we were together just a little longer and I made her preganant.  Abortion was illegal in 1968 and hard to obtain.  I could empathize with someone marrying under these circumstances and becoming a responsible parent as many of us would like to be.

Over the years many of my friends from those days at the NTCU have passed away.  Many of us have had a sketchy history of health care access in the US and tend to fall in the uninsured.  Although considering how health care in the US generally ranks around 40th on most indices world wide maybe our access is par for the course.

But over the years of reading memoirs and listening to friend who have come out in middle age I have heard stories of early childhood awareness that all have similar elements.

So much so that I feel I can say that the differences between those who come out young and those who come out in middle age are more a matter of what happens in the years between say 15 and 25 than they are of any primal root factor.

8 Responses to “Young vs Middle aged Emergers”

  1. fleur black Says:


  2. Mina Magpie Says:

    Excellently said. I was very nearly caught cross-dressing by my mom when I was like 12 or 13. She just knew that somebody had been in her stuff, and not knowing who, confronted my brother and I with more anger than I remember her in any other situation. Between constant bullying at school and being brought up in the Dutch Reformed Church, and that angry disapproval from the most important person in my life, I convinced myself right there that there must be something terribly wrong, as in bad about me, and I promptly buried it all, hoping to be “better” for everybody else.

    It didn’t really work out and by 25 I was fully self-destructing. I was given the opportunity to go oversees though, teach English to little kids, and just get out of my environment. I was exposed to a different culture, more open and accepting than I could imagine, and it allowed me to start accepting myself instead of judging. If I’d not had that opportunity though, I might be transitioning at 50, 20 years from now instead of today.

    I often feel sad at the years that I lost, but then I just think how profoundly lucky I am not to have lost more.


  3. catkisser Says:

    It hasn’t been a “formal” study or anything, but in years of discussing personal history with literally hundreds of women of transsexuality and a couple of close friends in the psych communities I’ve noticed that GID crisis points seem to happen at regular, increasingly intense, intervals during our lifetimes. The first, as one would expect, is at puberty. The next seems to be late teens to early twenties. They seem to come at roughly ten year intervals after that. Almost everyone who relates this pattern made some additional concessions to (coping mechanisms) as each crisis arose or transitioned. The end stage seems to be around the mid-forties to early fifties. That’s when it becomes no more compromises, you do this or die.

    I know that even though I’m intersexed rather than clssically transsexed, I went through all these crisis myself and came very very close to transition at 19, 27 and 35. At 19 I was actively trying to find a reliable source of birth control pills without outing myself. I was also trying hard to find anyone like myself without success.

  4. Evangelina Says:

    My parents had been finding me in female clothes consistantly from the age of around 6 or 7. It was around this age that I realised that I was not going to magically become a girl and that there were some physical differences. So by age 14 and my Mother had sat me down for the umpteenth time to get to the bottom of my “problem” she was all for taking me off to the doctors to get me “sorted out” By This time I had read a great deal about transsexuals lives especially April Ashley and Christine Jorgensen of course. I had read about their ordeal with aversion therapy (much like Zucker now advocates) and I was terrified that was going to happen to me. It was pretty abvious I had something “different” about me. There was certainly nothing particularly masculine in my behaviour or appearance, I was often taken for female irrespective of what I was wearing and my voice never broke. So I always spoke with a feminine softness. Speaking on telephones I was always reffered to as Miss. I got caught up in a high profile career and so I was unable to do anything about transitioning (though I prefer correcting) until my early 30’s I wish I had braved the aversion therapy at 14!

  5. Suzy CC Says:

    Thank you CatKisser

    I for one struggled with this very thing for years and years… How could it be that I was the classical transsexual but I didn’t make the leap when I was 19? Ok, so I tried but quite honestly I simply did not have the personal fortitude required to follow through with it. Or why I tried again about ten years later, and again in the thirties and finally in the forties where it became eat a bullet or bust…

    We all reach our crossroads and we all reach it about the same time but I ask what is it that prompts some to go left and some to go right?

    I made the wrong choices three times and doing so cost me half a life.

    • At 19 I simply could not face being what it meant to be out on the streets which is exactly where I would have been had I followed through.
    • At 26, added to the first was the brutal images in my head of “transvestites” and what I did not understand at the time to be the TG, and the fear I would be perceived as one of them no matter what.
    • At 36 add to both of the above, the fear that it was now just too late, that I could do no better now than become a hideously ugly woman. As a woman I knew what that would mean as far as what sort of life I would lead
    • At 45, Well I just didn’t give a damn anymore. Everything I’d tried to turn me into a guy had failed so miserably that even if I did become the bag lady from hell, there was no way it could be any worse than the hell I was in

    The irony was that once I took the correct path I did in fact see my worse fears come to life. I did look for a while like a transvestite, then a TG then a bag lady, but as I regained the womanly poise I’d worked so hard to bury I became what I had wanted since I was five. An utterly normal woman quite indistinguishable from any of the other three billion of us. Now if we could do something about that poverty and the fact that a woman makes far less than a man

    Anyway, bottom line? I think making that decision of left or right may be based less on what we want and more on where our fears are their strongest. At least it was for me.

  6. Sarah Says:

    Hm that with the decades has something. While I grown up in a different social envirement the first time I got an address and seeked for help was when I was sixteen, I was told no help before you am 25… so I tried to supress my feelings. with 22 I visited my doctor, only he was not in office. At 25 I started self administered hormones, but the only thing I could get my hands on were herbal products. It worked but not enaugh then again I tried to get hrt via my doctor but was diagnosed with a liver desease – that were the worst 4 years of my life – having to watch my body reclaiming masculinity. I then moved to switzerland and startet out again on the herbals (which worked the first time) but did not any more this second time, at least not enaugh (but safed me some hair), realising that this won’t work out and I wasted so much time of my life I really broke down – and visited spain, where medical hormons can be bought like candy. Half a year later I’ve seen a therapist, because, while planning to undergo FFS by Ousterhout und SRS by Suporn (so still bypassing the rigid swiss system which causes a lot of loss of life). Three month later I finally socialy transitioned overcoming a hughe anxiety disorder (with the help of my therapist) I built up reading all those stories of loosing Family, Jobs and Friends. So some hallmarks of my life are 16, 25, 36.
    While I can blame not transitioning at 16 on the german system of that time, after 25 I made a lot of mistakes myself, very much due to depression and anxiety disorder.

  7. fleur black Says:

    hmm.. Like Enagelina I was ‘crossdressing at 6/7 but by 8 I knew I had to hide it ..until at 14 I wrote to Doctor asking him to cure me to be a proper boy cos thats what everyone seemed to think I was and by then my body had gone really male…doctor brought letter to speak to mother, he ran out of house rather than speak to me when I arrived home from said anything about it so a couple fo days later I swallowe dhte aspirins and made a mess all over the bathroom…buried it basically but of courswe everyone constantly reminded me that I was displayinmg feminine behaviour..finally at FIFTY SEVEN it was do or die time…now 4.5 years later I hope I’m less than a year off surgery…but if the shrink in Alril says no srs then I will have nothing left to live for even though i’m fully out and transitioned all legal right up to just needing srs so i can try get a bit of a proper life for my last years…my mothger is almost 90and lots of relatives lived into 80s so basicvally i could have a few good years…just hope so

  8. Sarah Says:

    The oldest person I personaly come to know started her transition with 65. She broke down when she got a medicament that stopped her testosteron due to a cancer of the bladder. Broke down and never wanted to have testosteron ever in her live. Even without estrogen the time I met her she had perfect passing. I didn’t know her old, played role, but what was the wonderful person I had the luck to meet was all woman. My therpapist told me of a women the age of 85, when she got her SRS. She didn’t won’t to die with a male body that was never really hers.

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