Aging as a Transgender Person
Night creams, moisturizers, face masks, serums, and staying out of the sun. Just some tips on keeping your skin fresh and young, something us girls always advise each other on. The beauty of youth, what it’s like to be young and feel beautiful and that it’s never going to go away. Then one day, one unexpected day, you catch yourself in the mirror and there’s something different. Something that you had not seen before but for some reason now it’s there. You look different. You look older.
You try to think of the reason for this happening. Maybe it’s this foundation that is making me look older. Maybe I didn’t sleep well enough last night. Perhaps I’ve been partying too much lately or haven’t been taking care of my skin. I take a look at my hands, and they’re starting to look wrinkled, like a middle aged man’s hands! I always take care of my hands! But I haven’t gotten a manicure in some months because my life as a trans woman is starting to normalize. Being trans is not a dominating headline in my life anymore. Now I’m just another girl working, finishing school, putting kids to bed or sending them off to school. I don’t do the little things like manicures or taking care of my face. I remember when I first transitioned, everything was so new, so unbelievable, and I thought I would stay young forever! The estrogen made my skin clear and I looked wonderful! What’s going on? Why is the magic wearing off?
"I START TO WONDER IF I WANT TO BE AN OLD WOMAN. I BECOME MORE DEPRESSED."
I fall into depression. I’m not happy with myself. I start to wonder if I want to be an old woman. I become more depressed. Family gets pushed away, Friends become ignored. Skincare routines become even more obsolete and I don’t go out as much as I normally do. Hobbies fall by the wayside and I start to question if I want to live the rest of my life like this.
Okay I’ve painted a pretty extreme grim picture of a trans woman who starts to wrestle with age. Have you ever been in the situation of the trans woman I painted? I sure hope not! But there are levels of likeness to it I’m sure. Why does it seem we’d be scared of this?
You’re unaware of your aging
Well for starters, trans men and women are not the only ones battling age. Everybody is! Most people at some point become unhappy with aging—with bald spots, receding hair lines, wrinkles, sagging (you know what I mean), and it does make us sad and that is ok. It is ok to feel sad.
Maybe you transitioned after thirty, or after forty, or after fifty and beyond! Is there a point in continuing to compare yourself to that twenty-one year old trans woman on Instagram? I’m going to say something that many younger people may see as sacrilegious: I love Instagram, but it is NOT the only thing in life and it is not real life.
A life unlived
It can feel like your aging is a sign that you are not going to get to do all the things that you wish you could have done as a young trans person. Go on spontaneous road trips with friends. Travel Europe by train and stay in cheap hotels and meet a bunch of foreigners. Meet a hot babe in Barcelona, drink sangria and dance the night away until the sun comes up. You get it. But what have you done in life? Maybe not as your trans persona, but you, the human being, have done things that you were excited about and that you cherish as memories. Don’t discount what you have done!
You never thought of your life as an older person
You always imagined transitioning and becoming that beautiful self you wanted to be. But you never imagined that same persona as an older person with responsibilities or even aging to old age! What happened?! You thought you’d be forever young! Okay, okay, that is extreme as well, but seriously not many of us truly envision that far when we transition. It’s unimaginable to continue to be in the sex that we were “assigned”, but it hasn’t crossed our minds to be our beautiful butterfly selves as older. But what is wrong with becoming older? Nothing! In fact much research has gone into the happiness levels of older generations and have found that they live much more content. And if you feel you have been left with zero “what ifs” then you have lived a good life. It doesn’t matter at what age you transition. What matters is that you got to that point you wanted to get to.
So yes, look back at that mirror at the person with the wrinkles. Don’t think of your new differences as bad. They are proof of who you are--of being alive and having the opportunity to live a beautiful long life. Yes we all will age, but age your way. If you’re a 54 year old trans person, then be the unique beautiful 54 year old trans person that only you can be. If you dream of going on road trips, then go! If you wanted to do Europe when you were younger, then why not go now! More than likely you make more money now than your 21 year old counterpart right?
Take care of your skin, love your naked body, take selfies (with clothes on!), and show that Instagram what it’s good for!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories on this topic.