by K. Abel Knochel
“People who identify as transgender later in life often demonstrate great resilience in their ability to reconstruct their identity. Some are in long-term relationships and face the challenge of helping a partner transition through multiples changes and losses.
“In early 2015 I interviewed several trans* older adults to explore their experience of aging and gender identity. Two participants, Sophia(John) and AnneMarie (not their real names), shared similar narratives. They began to transition in their late 50s, made compromises that helped them preserve valued family relationships and reconfigured their lives in ways that maintained core pieces of their self-identity.
“Sophia(John) is a self-described transgenderist who maintains separately expressed sides of her identity as Sophia and as John. Sophia(John) is in her(his) early 80s and has been married to the same woman for more than 50 years. She(He) transitioned in her(his) early 60s, a few years after retirement.
“AnneMarie is a transwoman in her late 60s who has been married to the same woman for nearly 50 years. She began to transition in her late 50s as she began her retirement process.”