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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 5, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 23
For Caitlyn Jenner there were no Fifty Shades of Grey
Section One
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For Caitlyn Jenner there were no Fifty Shades of Grey

by Mac S. McGregor and Pamela Madsen - Special to the SGN

There is no universal handbook for coming out as a Transgender person because every Trans person and their situation is different. And frankly, it's head-shakingly shocking and infuriating to witness the lack of support given to Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, for the manner in which she has chosen to navigate transition.

Activists, educators and members of our community have shown a hard to ignore lack of compassion and understanding for what it might be like for a 65 year old Transgender person who was known as an Olympic Gold Medalist in a gendered sport, who lives in the public eye and under intense scrutiny to come out.

And as an LGBTQ community there seems to be an extraordinary lack of a sense of history, and how that would impact a midlife or older person to come out. Much less in the world of sports which has one of the greatest gender divides outside of religious communities.

Many Transgender people have had to wait to come out. And it can often take half a lifetime for circumstances to feel stable or safe enough to transition and come out. Caitlyn Jenner is not alone in transitioning and coming out after 50. Caitlyn is 65.

The reasons for waiting are universal in the Transgender community - especially in the over 50 population.

1. Feeling stable in one's career. It's important to believe that you can transition your career along with your gender. Many people are frightened of losing their jobs or chances of promotion, and even the friendship of their colleagues. Caitlyn didn't come out until after the Olympics, commercials, and a point in her career where she felt she could continue as her true self: a woman.

2. Believe it or not, some Transgender people wait until a parent, parents, grandparents, or other significant family members or mentors die before coming out. Many people who are over 50, come from an era where they don't want to disappoint, hurt, embarrass or shame their elders. There is a recognition of the lack of acceptance they might face, and many hide in order not to hurt their families or even lose family ties. Caitlyn Jenner waited until her father died.

3. Some closeted Transgender people also marry and have children. Just like many people, they have a desire for family. For those over 50, it may not have seemed possible to marry or have babies if they were out as Transgender so they remained hidden. Caitlyn Jenner was not unusual in that desire. She was also not unusual in wanting to wait to tell her children that she was Transgender until they were young adults. There is a common fear that their kids won't understand, could reject them, and even if their kids are open minded - that they could be mocked or even ostracized in school, church, and community for having a Transgender parent. Today, for younger Transgender people, they may be entering a more enlightened time, where they may feel the freedom to marry without hiding their true gender; and their children will grow up seeing their parents living their lives authentically.

4. For many over 50, their religious community is a central focus of their home, school and social life. Depending on where you live in the United States or the world; coming out as a Transgender individual can set you apart from everything that you know. Very few religious communities are welcoming to Transgender individuals. Imagine what it must be like to have to choose between living your life authentically and your faith? Again here too, many worry about being ostracized from their community, families and friends when choosing to live in their true gender. It can take a half a lifetime to find the courage and have the resources to do that.



It's just different to be over 50 and transitioning. We ask older activist and gender/sex educators to be mentors and teachers to our younger Transgender and LGBTQ community. But what about you younger folks? Can you stand up and wholeheartedly support LGBTQ individuals who may have had a different life experience than you? Can you stop being so fucking politically correct and instead use compassion?

Stop the criticism and Sunday Morning Quarterbacking about how Caitlyn or anyone could have done this better or differently than how they are doing it. Try to remember that Caitlyn and over 50 Transgender folk come from a world that didn't use words like 'Gender Fluid and Gender Queer' growing up. That implies that there is an understanding of a gender spectrum or a binary system. This wasn't even a thought in the most liberal homes of those over 50. Hell, for most people we never even heard the word 'Transgender' until the 1990s. Caitlyn Jenner grew up in a world where gender roles were much more clearly defined. It was pick a team: pink or blue - forget Fifty Shades of Grey.

In many aspects for the younger Transgender community, they are growing up in a very different world. While many are still tragically taking their lives and feeling set apart from their families and communities, the world is changing in part due to people like Caitlyn Jenner who can command the public stage. Good for us to remember that there are no road maps and this new breed of public Transgender activists are paving the roads of acceptance and understanding with great courage. We are building the road maps now; and the best any of us can do is gather around each person who is transitioning and offer them compassion, support and acceptance.

And please remember, it's just different after 50.

Mac Scotty McGregor The Gender Sensei
'SOSea' Social Outreach Seattle - Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Outreach Director
City of Seattle Commissioner on the LGBT Commission
SPD - LGBTQ Advisory Council
Board Member - Seattle Counseling Service
VIP Director for Seattle Erotic Art Festival
Shihan - Teacher of Teachers
Personal Trainer & Life Coach
Public Speaker, Activist, Author, Ordained Minister
www.betruetoself.org
@mckick - twitter
The Gender Sensei on FB

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For Caitlyn Jenner there were no Fifty Shades of Grey
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