11 January 2013

A Generation of Elders Who Are Novitiates

Writing about the Lost Generation of Transgenders, as I did yesterday and in a few earlier posts, got me to thinking about my own situation.  Although I have had my surgery and I rarely have to talk about having lived as a man (although sometimes I still do so by choice), I consider myself to be part of that generation.  That's because I missed living decades of my life as a woman; others never had the chance--or had only a very brief time--to live their lives whole.  Some, of course, never transitioned; others lived in a ghetto (which was mental and spiritual as well as physical) of substance abuse, violence and AIDS that cut their lives short.  

On the other hand, my history has left me in a position in which very few people find themselves:  As a transsexual person, I am still fairly new or, at least, young. After all, I began my transition a decade ago, began to live as Justine a year after that and had my surgery three and a half years ago.  Chronologically, my current life is only as long as that of a child who has yet to reach puberty.  But I am also an elder, if you will.  Many people my age have grandchildren; a few even have great children.  And many of us reach the apogee of our careers or other trajectories in our lives.  If nothing else, we come to an understanding of ourselves and others and some--like me--start to feel we don't have the time, energy or patience for cant, hypocrisy and evasion.

So, even though my time of living as a woman is relatively brief, I am indeed one.  I am a woman who happens to be a good bit older than all of those young people who are transitioning  and even some of the later-in-life transitioners.  What that means is that when I'm talking to a younger trans person, an older one who's doing what I did a couple of years ago, or someone who isn't trans but wants to learn more, I am--for lack of a better way of describing this--teaching what I learned only recently.  That includes a sense of what we've come from and where we've been.  Many transgender and transsexual people who could have taught those things died along the way or ended up too broken to teach themselves, let alone others.  

So the burdens--and joys--of passing on what this community has learned, collectively as well as from and among individuals--fall to those of us who are surviving members of the Lost Generation of Transgenders.