Nov 20

Age Has Nothing To Do With How It Feels To Transition Later In Life

Age has nothing to do with how it feels to transition later in life as we learn from these aging trans men and women

Ruth transitioned at 81, Ramses in his late 40s, and Bethan, at 57, is about to have surgery. Meet the trans baby boomers

 

Ruth Rose

Ruth Rose: ‘I was living a life of pretense.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

Early in October, Ruth Rose went on holiday to Corfu with a group of female friends she had known for years. They swam in the sea every day, making the most of the late summer sunshine. On the last morning before flying home to England, the women took one last swim and skinny-dipped so as not to have to pack their costumes away wet.

Such adventures would once have been unthinkable for Rose. But the surgery she underwent at the age of 81 has opened doors she would never have thought possible. “In some ways it’s like having new hips after being told you would be condemned to arthritis for the rest of your life,” she says. “You do it, and life begins again. And that’s what happened to me. Age has nothing to do with it.”

When we read about people transitioning gender, the focus is often on teenagers; in an emotive debate about access to school changing rooms and Guides camping trips, older trans people are rendered almost invisible. Yet there are more than five times as many adult as child gender identity patients in the UK. Some are now having gender reassignment surgery not just in late middle age, but well into retirement.

The numbers remain tiny, but they are rising; according to the NHS, 75 people aged between 61 and 71 had gender reassignment operations in the seven years to 2015-16, and that’s not counting people who quietly transition without surgery. These trans baby boomers are now beginning to challenge received ideas not just about gender but age, and the capacity of older people to live bold, adventurous lives. “I think people need to learn quite fast that older people no longer all fit the white-haired granny stereotype,” says Jane Vass, the head of public policy at Age UK. The charity recently published advice to older people who are transitioning, covering everything from the impact on state pension ages to what to write on death certificates.

“If it was ever true that older people were all the same, it’s certainly not now. And yet we still seem to respond as a society to a very narrow view of what ageing is,” adds Vass. Later life is full of changes, she points out, from the end of a career to the death of a spouse. Why wouldn’t it also be a time in which people embrace opportunities denied them in the past, before it’s too late?

I just look upon it as a bit of history in my life, like having owned a certain car for a while and decided to change it

It’s perhaps only now that many older people feel comfortable coming out, having grown up in a time when being trans was so steeped in shame and silence that many couldn’t even put a name to what they felt. “I remember as a child thinking, am I unique? Am I strangely perverted?” says Christine Burns, the 64-year-old trans activist and author of the social history Trans Britain: Our Journey From The Shadows. It was only in the 1960s, when the Sunday People newspaper began salaciously to out trans people – most famously the Vogue model April Ashley – that she understood she was not alone. “To see those stories, egregious as they were, helped in a sense. I always say that, on that Sunday morning, I learned there was a name for people like me, but also that it was worse than I feared.”

Half a century on, trans people undoubtedly still experience stigma and discrimination. Fierce debate about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which could enable people to identify themselves as trans rather than going through a drawn-out process of medical and psychiatric assessment, has turned trans acceptance into a political football. But for those raised in an era when men could be arrested just for wearing women’s clothes in public, the thaw in public attitudes is still striking. “When I first came out [in the 1970s], I got reported to the police and my employer, for being in charge of a company vehicle dressed as a woman,” recalls Jenny-Anne Bishop, the chair of the support group Trans Forum, who had gender reassignment surgery at the age of 59. “Now I’m as likely to have lunch with the chief constable to discuss hate crime reporting. It’s changed that much.”

Ruth Rose transition story

Ruth Rose: ‘I thought, it must cost thousands of pounds and I can’t do it.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

Ruth Rose was around nine when she realised she had what she thought must be “some sort of sexual aberration”. Hoping it would go away, she went through an all-boys public school, did national service in the Royal Air Force, began a career in mechanical engineering, married and had three children. It was only in her 30s that she began to hear about sex-change operations, as they were known, but even then the idea seemed fantastical.

She eventually met others in the same situation via the Beaumont Society, a support group set up in 1966 for cross-dressers, which also attracted trans people. Once a month, they would meet for dinner in a restaurant in Fulham, London. “There was one young man whose sister dressed him and made him up, who went out with no fear at all, travelling on the tube and things. There were others who crept from their cars in the next side street,” she recalls. “There were two little old ladies who brought their knitting and had the most amazing adventures.”

By this time, Rose’s wife had discovered her secret, and was “just about tolerant” of her dressing as a woman occasionally and discreetly. But permanent transition did not feel like an option. “I thought, it must cost thousands of pounds and I can’t do it – I’ve got responsibilities to my family.”

It was only after the children were grown up and the couple amicably divorced that Rose, now in her 60s, moved to a new town and began, increasingly, to live as a woman. At first, she still wore a suit for the voluntary work she did, although gradually that, too, began to change. For a while she kept male clothes for hospital appointments for her arthritis. She last dressed as a man when her former wife was ill; Rose went to make dinner for her every night in male clothes because, even though they were on reasonably friendly terms, her ex-wife didn’t like seeing her dressed as a woman.

Rose was in her 70s when her doctor finally suggested surgery. “At my age I wouldn’t have considered it, but when I went to the clinic at Charing Cross, you have to see two psychiatrists and the first one, after 10 minutes, said: ‘As far as I’m concerned, you are absolutely right for it.’”

Having lived comfortably as a woman for so long without it, Rose was surprised by how much the surgery meant to her. “It stopped the feeling that I was living a life of pretense, and that really made a difference. Also I had a lot of lady friends in their 50s and 60s, most of whom I swim with, and their attitude to me, without them realizing it, changed that little bit – but that little bit was important, it was the last little bit of acceptance.”

Her children found out she had begun to transition only when a short article about her, in a women’s magazine that she hadn’t expected anyone to notice, was picked up by the News of the World; but she says the shock was short-lived. “Within a week, all the recriminations, the ‘why didn’t you tell us earlier’s were over and they’re marvelous now.”

She babysits regularly for her grandsons, goes to all the family weddings and christenings, and happily attended a school reunion a couple of years ago. “People were so, so nice; they accepted it absolutely. If you go along with fear and trepidation and don’t look people in the eye, you can expect to get a feeling of non-acceptance. Whereas it’s different if you meet the challenge and smile at everybody, and don’t even consider that they might look askance at you.”

It’s wrong when people say, oh, you’ve always wanted to be female. I’ve spent my life wanting and trying to be male

If anything, Rose finds it faintly absurd that people are still interested in her previous life. “It’s my past and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s over. I have changed emotionally in many ways – I can’t even recall the sort of emotions I had as a male. So I just look upon it as a bit of history in my life, like having owned a certain car for a while and decided to change it.”

It’s impossible to know how Rose’s life would have turned out had she transitioned earlier. But when she was collecting stories of trans pioneers for her book, Burns was struck by how many were wealthy or well-connected, often with independent incomes that meant they didn’t have to fear losing their jobs. (Until a 1996 test case, the law gave trans people little protection against employment discrimination.) Those seeking surgery in Britain were commonly told they had first to get divorced – which is why the travel writer Jan Morris travelled to Casablanca for the surgery she describes in her 1974 autobiography, Conundrum – or to renounce contact with children.

It was only when the BBC screened a primetime documentary, A Change Of Sex, in 1979, featuring the Charing Cross gender identity clinic run by the pioneering surgeon John Randall, that a route to treatment in this country became clear for many Britons; even then, four out of five people who approached him were turned down. Patients won the universal right to free gender reassignment surgery on the NHS only in 1999.

Yet for some, the greater openness about transitioning may have come too late. “There’s a group of people who were perhaps in their 20s and 30s in the 1960s – by the time there was a lot of public knowledge about trans, they would be in their 50s and locked in,” says Burns. “They would have tried to make their peace with life and everybody would have said, ‘What you need is to get married, have kids – that’ll cure you.’ Then you have got the children and it becomes a matter of duty. Some recent cases of people transitioning in their 80s have been people who waited until their partners died and they finally felt like free agents; they wanted to die being true to themselves.”

Transitioning in later years is not, however, always medically straightforward. Dr Paul Willis leads the Centre for Trans Ageing research project at the University of Swansea, examining older trans people’s experience of health and social care in Wales, and says some report having to jump hurdles to get treatment. “One trans woman’s GP grudgingly allowed the patient to have a prescription for hormones but insisted that she had to pay for it, even though prescriptions are free in Wales. The pharmacist would say, ‘Why are you paying for this?’ but they just accepted it as what they had to put up with,” he says. There are, he adds, still “a lot of unknowns” about the long-term effects of hormone treatment in old age, as doctors are only now seeing the first cohort to have taken them for decades.

Perhaps more surprising are the challenges facing older people who want to transition without having gender reassignment surgery. Any major operation can be risky for older people with serious conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, and Age UK’s advice is for individuals to consider whether it’s right for them. But that can be a difficult choice, given the common misconception that a “real” transition must involve surgery. “The barrier most people faced until quite recently was that people weren’t validated if they weren’t – as my GP put it when I asked for a referral – ‘going all the way’,” says Jenny-Anne Bishop, who worked with Willis on the research. “If you weren’t aiming to have hormones and/or surgery, then there was a sense you could get on with it without medical support.” (Surgery isn’t compulsory in order to get a gender recognition certificate or legal confirmation of an acquired gender, but medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria is.)

Bishop, now 72, chose to have only what she calls cosmetic surgery when she transitioned 13 years ago, because at that age she felt “the creation of a new vagina was just too invasive. There’s more risk as you get older.”

No matter when or how they transitioned, however, a common fear identified in Willis’s research among older trans people was of losing mental capacity in old age. “If you’re reliant on other people to make decisions over what you are going to wear, or what your hair looks like, and whether you have access to routines that are important to you, such as shaving – that can really impact on people’s sense of identity,” he says. The prospect of becoming vulnerable and dependent on strangers in a nursing home may be unusually alarming for people who have been stigmatised or threatened with violence for being trans. “If you are living in a world you feel to be hostile, you live your entire life defensively and expend a lot of energy making sure you are safe,” says Burns. “But what if you start getting confused?”

***

Ramses Underhill-Smith transition story

Ramses Underhill-Smith: ‘People refuse to accept it when you’re older.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

Ramses Underhill-Smith is the founder of Alternative Care Services, an agency providing home helps and social care for older LGBT people. He set up the agency after seeing an HIV-positive friend risk his health by rejecting care in his own home, over concern that the care workers might be homophobic. Some of the Alternative Care Services’ workers are trans themselves, some aren’t, but all get training in treating patients with dignity.

Underhill-Smith, who is trans himself, recently handled a case in which someone with dementia had begun to forget they had transitioned, leaving nursing home staff unsure about whether to treat them as male or female. The right answer, he says, is both. “If today they want to be this, that’s how you treat them. If tomorrow it’s something else, you treat them as something else.” What matters, he says, is that people who may have been made to feel shame all their lives are not treated judgmentally while at their most vulnerable.

A friend said, you idiot, doing it at this time in your life, and I was shocked, but that’s what people secretly think

“If you’ve had surgery and you’ve got scars, you don’t want people looking at them in a certain way. We’re so used to it in the LGBT community – it’s not even the words people say, but the fact that everybody stares. You don’t want to have to explain when you get undressed for personal care. It’s about knowing that whoever comes to your door is going to understand who you are, that in conversation you’re going to be able to say things openly.” Some frail older people, he points out, barely see anyone but health professionals; if they can’t talk to them honestly, they are completely isolated.

For some, transitioning later in life can be a lonely business. “People refuse to accept it when you’re older,” says Underhill-Smith, who was in his late 40s when he transitioned. “They’ll say, ‘But I’ve known you like this all my life.’ A friend said to me, ‘You fucking idiot, doing it at this time in your life’ and I was completely shocked, but that’s what people secretly think. They’re thinking, ‘Why are you putting us all through this change?’” He tends to avoid social events in his old circle. “I don’t go back into my community, I don’t go to functions, I don’t go to funerals. I used to go because I wanted youngsters to see me, but it gets so tiring because it’s isolating. People will say hello but they walk on.”

***

Bethan Henshaw transition story

Bethan Henshaw: ‘I thought I’d lose my whole life.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola for the Guardian

While fear of rejection by family can be a significant obstacle to coming out, it isn’t always well-founded. One recent study found around half of newly trans men maintained their previous relationships. “I thought I’d lose my whole life,” says Bethan Henshaw, a warehouse worker from Coventry, who at the age of 57 is shortly to have gender reassignment surgery. Like Ruth Rose, Henshaw has known she was trans since childhood, but for almost half a century forced herself to live a man’s life. “I think it’s wrong, sometimes, when people say, ‘Oh, you’ve always wanted to be female.’ I’ve spent most of my life wanting to be male, and trying to be male, and not being very good at it. A lot of trans people overcompensate – there’s a higher percentage of us in the armed forces before we come out. People try to do hyper-masculine things, just to force themselves into a role.”

Henshaw fell in love, settled down with her partner and kept up a male front, but as time went on she began to feel suicidal. Eventually her partner confronted her, asking what was wrong, and Henshaw blurted out her secret. “I did say to my partner, ‘If you want me to go, I’ll give you the house, the savings, everything’ because I felt like I was to blame, even though it’s the way I was born. But she just said, ‘Don’t be stupid’ and we carried on with our lives.” They are still together and, while Henshaw says she lost some friends during the process, most have rallied round; her family was supportive and her employers at Asda were “absolutely faultless” when she first came out. “They explained the situation to other people and, obviously, a lot of people were shocked. Some of them didn’t like it, some were very supportive, some people weren’t sure how to react because they hadn’t come across it before. But with time it has just faded into the background.”

Reprinted from The Guardian

Sep 16

The Invisible Older Woman

 

The average older woman is still struggling with feelings of being invisible so says Jennifer Connolly of the 40 plus blog. A Well Styled Life.  For some, that may be desirable. Some women feel relief and love flying under the radar of society’s pressure to look a certain way. They revel in the freedom to march to their own drummer…even/especially if it’s got a funky beat.

invisible older woman

But for most, not so much. Being made to feel invisible is not a good thing. And I suspect it’s somewhat true for the trans woman too, at least for this one.

It’s no secret that America is a youth-obsessed country. When I was young, my friends and I couldn’t wait to grow up. Today, nobody wants to grow up. But there comes a time in every woman’s life when we can no longer chase youth and we can’t run away from age – nobody can run that fast, especially in high heels.

Marie Therese Norris of The French TouchMarie Therese Norris of the blog, The French Touch, (an over 60 woman) sends the message that she’s interested in the people and things around her is the way she presents herself. If she dresses as if she no longer cares, the world will return the sentiment. If she dresses as if she’s trying too hard to look young, the world will not take her seriously. Is it any wonder that, living in a Peter Pan society, mature women in their fifties and sixties start to feel as if they are invisible and slowly fading into the background? Sometimes we just feel like shouting, “Hey, we’re still here, and we have a lot to offer!”

I know this sounds incredibly superficial, but we need to face facts. We live in a superficial, increasingly visual world; and for men in particular, when it comes to women, the visual will always trump the verbal — at least, in the beginning. It doesn’t matter what’s inside; if they don’t like the wrapping, they won’t open the package. So, how we present ourselves matters a great deal. In fact, the older we get the more it matters, and not JUST to the opposite sex.

Being of advanced age, I worry less about meeting some arbitrary standard of beauty and certainly it’s almost easier to blend in as less is expected of me. But wanting to be invisible, no. I want to be seen for the woman I am. I want to be seen as being stylish and desirable, at least to know and not in a sexual way, that I have self worth as a woman

Jennifer gives this example of invisibility

“The last time a gentleman walked through a door ahead of me, and let it close in my face, I had a “word” with him. It was along the lines of, “I’m sure you’d love it if someone slammed a door in your mothers face!”  He gave me a blank stare which led me to conclude:

  • he was raised by wolves
  • his mother taught him no manners
  • he was a Neanderthal clod

As we age, we’re less likely to be noticed for our appearance which can sting and it’s all so unnecessary, but I’ll come to that in a moment.

Invisibility Impaired

Jennifer tells the story about being out and about in London with her beautiful daughter. When the heads turned to look at them, she realized they were looking at her daughter and not here. A small jolt went through her. Nothing earth shaking, but a page had turned for her, a shift had happened. A loss of something. A loss of power.  Her power of visibility

And I’m sure we may have experienced similar feelings when out with a beautiful younger person. God, I hate those photos of young 20 something crossdressers who look good in anything

Does losing visibility as you grow older matter?

  1. It matters because it affects our self-confidence.
  2. It matters because we have much wisdom to share that may not be heard.
  3. It matters because self-confidence affects our happiness.
  4. It matters because our happiness is crucial.
  5. It matters because it seriously pisses me off.

But what about the woman who is not happy being passed over and overlooked, merely because she’s gotten older?

Sister House is about fashion and our wardrobe can be a powerful tool in our struggle to remain visible. Author and stylist Sherrie Mathieson has this to say on the subject of wardrobe:

The fact that as women get older, the less likely they are to be noticed for their looks (certainly less by men, but also less by other women) is true. Too often the exceptions that get double takes and compliments fall into three groups,

  • the ones who dress very sexually
  • the ones who wear something like a bright color or “cute” (“Oh love that color on you! Oh isn’t that darling!?)
  • and the ladies who indulge in non apologetic eccentricity–wearing all sorts of clothing, especially odd hats, lots of jewelry,  glasses, scarves and tons of layers, textures and volume in clothing to an almost theatrical effect.” (The ladies of the Advanced Style blog would probably disagree)

Jennifer doesn’t quite agree. Here’s her take on the three groups.

The Sexual Look

Jane Pesch at 73 not invisible

Jane Pesch at 73

“Older women are and can look sexy. (Check out Helen Mirren) What we reveal needs to be strategically chosen. It’s often more important which skin shows than how much. For some older women, the  shoulders, for example, seem to be the last place to age. I don’t know about you, but my shoulder skin hasn’t sagged yet. and an off-the-shoulder dress or blouse is figure enhancing.” For many crossdressers and t-girls, our best feature is our legs hence 1-2 inches of skin above the knee creates an alluring look. More than that, you may be branded as something else.

Color is Personal.

Maye Musk not invisible

Maye Musk

Like many women, my wardrobe has many neutrals meaning too much black but I love patterns and royal colors, turquoise, dark blue and red  being my favorites. Some women love bright colors because it makes them happy. They don’t call it the Red Hat Society for nothing. These women are making a statement about their visibility. They will not be ignored and it’s their privilege to do so. There is a fine line between colorful and clownish. If we cross that line intentionally and are confident enough to wear it, that’s our choice too

Women who dress with true eccentricity and always have, are fabulous. There’s nothing wrong with trying on new looks and playing with theatricality, so long as you can own the look. If it feels like a costume…beware. Your confidence doesn’t get a boost by feeling pink outfitlike a fraud.

Betty Halbreich in her book Secrets of a Fashion Therapist says you don’t need a “color consultant” to tell you what looks good on you. Go to a mirror where there is good natural light and hold various shades up to your face. Do certain colors light up your face where other colors seem to f drain the light out of it. That’s a start.

Betty also said that she’s never known a woman who didn’t look good in pink. It looks clean and sensuous on everyone, not to mention incredibly feminine.

Eccentric Dress

I have dramatic, head-turning garments in my wardrobe, that I wear when I want to make a statement. I love capes, scarves, and drama. I adore hats. They’re attention-getting simply because most women don’t have the confidence to wear them. I don’t think I wear goofy ones…but goofy is in the eye of the beholder:)

We are all a combination of style components that make up our personal style recipe. No one woman has the right or wrong formula for personal style. However, some formulas can be more effective if visibility is your goal.

older eccentric but not invisible ladies

So how can older woman really combat invisibility?

  • Attention to personal grooming is very important.
  • Appearance and polishing your personal style is crucial… because frumpiness is the fast track to invisibility.
  • Being informed about current events and able to intelligently join conversations increases your visibility
  • Staying physically active and fit as possible will boost confidence which helps us feel and look more vibrant.

I’m just going to talk about the first two points.

Personal Grooming

I’m persnickety about how I look when I leave the house. I will not go out with unstyled or unclean hair. I always wear makeup…lipstick, mascara and eyebrow pencil (mandatory).  My clothes are clean, unwrinkled and presentable.

Paying attention to personal grooming is a matter of personal respect. How can a woman feel good about herself if she hasn’t taken basic care of her grooming? I just don’t get it? Simple things like arm hair and un-flossed teeth get noticed!

Personal style

We all have a unique combination of styles, that make up our personal style.

My personal style is a mix of classic,elegant, boho and a bit dramatic with a little feminine thrown into the mix. Each outfit I put together highlights different aspects of my personality and how I feel that day. How I want to be perceived also plays a role in what I choose.and I give some thought to where I’m going and who I will be with

And here’s where my point on our wardrobe choices comes in…you knew I had to have one:)

There is an alternative way to dress, which increases a woman’s visibility, and that’s with drama.

dramatic dresser at Royal AscotThe dramatic dresser projects a sophisticated and confident image. It’s strong and conveys assurance. Bold, often exaggerated in line and/or color it stands out in a crowd. It’s not for the faint of heart… because it makes people notice you. Because of its striking appearance, it empowers women. It can be edgy or severe, but it’s seldom overlooked. I love it!!

So what does dramatic dressing look like?

You will find many examples of dramatic clothes and looks  on my Pinterest boards.

  • The clothes are geometric, often with sharp angles.
  • Black and white are popular neutrals, worn alone or mixed with a bold color.
  • Fabrics are usually firm and hold their shape.
  • Patterns are seldom worn.
  • Jackets and coats are structured with sharp edges and straight lines.
  • Clothes have minimal details and are sleek
  • The silhouette is semi-fitted with a slightly defined waist.
  • Hats are a favorite accessory because they add instant drama.
  • There is usually 1 striking accessory and it is over-sized.
  • Hair is sleek, sculpted and worn in a precision cut.

The dramatic dresser is seldom just one of these characteristics. She can add touches of feminine, creative, sporty or classic to the mix, but there is always a striking element to her look.

I pull this look out when I need a boost of confidence and it never fails me. I mix it with other styles to produce my personal style recipe.

I’m reminded of this song…

My my, hey hey

Rock and roll is here to stay

It’s better to burn out than fade away

My my, hey hey

~Neil Young

aging is a privilege

I’m choosing to remain visible, are you?

We’re More Visible Than Ever

We’ve come into our own as a demographic of strong, stylish women who command attention. Our buying power is making corporations stand up and take notice of us. We’re all part of this new movement and I’m proud of each of us.

And our strength is not just our style, but our femininity too. Marie Therese Norris said it most succinctly,

“By the end of the 60s, the pursuit of Femininity had been moved from the Virtue to the Vice side of the Feminist orthodoxy. It was deemed not only to be frivolous, but downright subversive. The French woman sailed through the last four decades relatively unscathed by American-style Feminism. As a result, she continues not only to age gracefully, but to live her whole life as gracefully as she can to the delight of the French man. Femininity underpins everything she is and does. Her individual version of Femininity may be classic or quirky, but she owns it, she works it, and she will go to the grave with it.

A healthy dash of Femininity might just be the missing ingredient we are looking for.

femininity collage

Crossdressers and trans women should not want to be invisible. Kandi Robbins column on Visibility With Style in the Dressing Room gives us many ways to be accepted into our local communities for the feminine person we are

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

 

Aug 23

A Visual Record of the Joys, Fears and Hopes of Older Transgender People

This reprinted article from the NY Times deals with a largely unseen part of being transgender, that being the joys. fears and hopes of older transgender people. In “To Survive on This Shore,” the photographer Jess T. Dugan and the professor Vanessa Fabbre have created a road map, archive and remarkably moving body of work about a group almost entirely left out of many narratives: older transgender and gender variant people.

It is easy to forget that only recently have transgender issues become part of the public consciousness, with transgender characters on major television shows and even transgender celebrities. But transgender people — like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, key figures in the Stonewall uprising in 1969 — have contributed to the queer movement since the beginning, even if they have often been overlooked.

No more.

“We wanted to create representations of older transgender people, and gender nonconforming people, to both capture their stories, preserve their history, record some of the activism that they had been a part of,” Ms. Dugan said. “But we also wanted to create representations for younger transgender people to see a road map for what their life could look like, to see people aging and living these complicated and exciting and robust lives in many cases.

transgender woman Caprice

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicag by Jake Naughton

Caprice, 55, Chicago. “I’m a 55-year-old woman of trans experience and I’m a woman of color. And my life is amazing. I have been working in the field of social service for 17 years. I have been an activist and advocate for trans women of color and trans-identified individuals for the majority of my life. My life relies upon me being able to give to my community.”

transgender people Gloria

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Gloria, 70, Chicago. “I’m a senior citizen. I made it to 70, and a lot of them won’t make it, they won’t make it at all. Because most of them die from drugs, from sexual disease or they’re murdered. They ask me questions like, ‘Well, Momma Gloria, how did you get through?’ I say, ‘I got through with love from my family and the grace of God.’ That’s how I got through. You have to have some stability and you have to have some kind of class, some charm about yourself. I never was in the closet. The only time I was in the closet was to go in there and pick out a dress and come out of the closet and put it on

transgender people SueZie, 51, and Cheryle, 55

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

SueZie, 51, and Cheryle, 55, Valrico, Fla. “When we got married, I never imagined that someday my husband would become my wife,” Cheryle said. “Right from the start, SueZie confided that she identified as female on the inside, but transition never appeared to be an option. But, I never had a problem with her wearing lingerie. You know, it’s just clothes. I fell in love with the person inside, and what’s on the outside is more about what they feel comfortable with.”Credit:  Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Ms. Dugan and Ms. Fabbre, a social worker and assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis, wanted to show the fullness of experiences of the older transgender community. The result is a book, to be released on Aug. 28 by Kehrer Verlag, that combines portraits and interviews with transgender people from various walks of life. The combination of intimate and arresting portraits, a signature of Ms. Dugan’s, with frank and deeply affecting quotes — they are often humorous, sad or both at once — is a startlingly deep dive into the individual and collective experiences of this generation of the transgender community.

Common themes include uncertainty of the future because of looming medical care and financial insecurity, which have long been sources of unease for the community. There also are a wide range of feelings about the transition process itself, and Ms. Dugan and Ms. Fabbre wanted to preserve that complexity.

For Ms. Dugan, the most difficult recurring themes addressed how much people struggled or missed out on because they were unable to be their authentic selves until later in life. “I was just struck by the extent to which pressure from society can be so damaging to people, and so limiting and cause so much pain,” she said. “In some ways it’s a big deal to transition and in other ways it’s such a small thing. Your gender identity and expression really shouldn’t have this profound of an effect on your relationship, your kids, your job, your housing, your access to health care. It simultaneously feels like a major issue and like it should also be a nonissue.”

transgender people Dee Dee Ngozi

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Dee Dee Ngozi, 55, Atlanta. “This coming into my real, real fullness of knowing why I was different is because I was expressing my spirit to this world. And I didn’t know how God felt about it, but I believe in God and I have a deep spiritual background and I talk with the Holy Spirit constantly who’s taken me from the Lower West Side doing sex work to being at the White House.”

transgender people Bobbi

Credit: Jess T. Dugan/Courtesy of the Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Bobbi, 83, Detroit. “I think people talk in either/or terms, right? Before transition and after. But to me, it’s really development. I’m proud of both lives. I’m proud of both mes, if you see what I’m saying. And I feel it has been a remarkable thing to have happened to a person. I’m grateful. You can’t just become a woman with a knife or a pill or anything like that. It takes a whole combination in a sequence, in a formation. You’ve got this time span, it’s a learning experience, it’s a little bit of everything.”

Conducting deeply personal interviews with her subjects also changed her image making. “Sitting down with someone and asking them to share their life story is really vulnerable but also empowering and very significant,” she said. “I was continually struck by how personal people were willing to be with us.” In other projects, like “Every Breath We Drew,” she took out all extraneous information. But in “To Survive on This Shore,” she let details of her subjects’ lives creep in, even including photos of objects.

Ms. Dugan and Ms. Fabbre envisioned their project as equal parts activism and art. The images and quotes will form an exhibition and book, and the work has also been acquired by the Kinsey Institute, the Sexual Minorities Archive and the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria. Ms. Fabbre plans to use the interviews in her scholarly research, and they have begun sharing their work with nonprofits for training and activism. They hope that the broader theme of aging can resonate with people beyond the transgender community.

Just as crucially, they want the work to serve as a visual record of the joys, traumas, fears and hopes of older transgender people that the younger transgender community — which often has no role models — can use to learn what the future might hold.

“Many of the people in the project have been out and have been working on progress for the trans community since as early as the 1970s,” Ms. Dugan said. “We were looking back at 45 years of advocacy and education and life experience, and I really wanted to capture that because I think sometimes our collective history is lost. We wanted to create a more broad and complex portrait of what it looks like to be an older transgender person.”

 

 

 

Jun 04

Older. Wiser and More Stylish

tasi's fashion feature

You would think that being older, wiser and more stylish would be a given, but not so. The girls on the Facebook group, Trans Beauty Network, were recently discussing fashion and, in particular, the fashion faux pas’ of trans women seen by the group. High on the list was the perennial favorite of not dressing your age meaning you shouldn’t be a 50-60 year old woman and dress like your granddaughter. And this does not extend to just the trans community but is still a common observation by women in general. When TLC’s How Not To Dress TV show was still on the air, this was a common theme.

So, to those girls, you are missing the boat because as we see below, the older, wiser, and more mature woman can be far more stylish than the ragtag group of millennials that they try to imitate.

Ari Seth Cohen just released a new book, Advanced Style…Older and Wiser which features more senior street style and inspiration from all over the globe, including Los Angeles, London, Cape Town, Rome, Florence, Tokyo, San Diego, Palm Springs, Melbourne, Sydney, New York, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Stockholm, and Geneva. The book also features 22 short essays by the subjects of the book distilling the wisdom and lifestyle secrets of some of Cohen’s favorite Advanced Style ladies. But this is NOT a book review because this article is about how older ladies really are more stylish than the millennials and their super comfortable but sloppy lifestyle. This book is but an example of what you can be too.

Diane Pemberton-Sikes in her blog, Fashion for Real Women, wrote a travel article in which she said, “I’ve been on chicken buses in Central America that had better dressed occupants than most domestic flights. It’s amazing how much Americans stick out due to the clothes and overall shabby appearance.”

And since most readers here are probably in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond, we still remember how style was. Not because we necessarily want to return to those eras, but because we want the feeling that those eras had in helping us explore our inborn femininity. How we dress is a large part of that as our dress defines how we are perceived by others. I’m older than 60 so my favorite quote is “…I must tell you that I am not really an old lady; just cleverly disguised as one”.

La Contessa from The Vintage Contessa joined several other ladies at a book signing for this book. Here are several views of the ladies and please note the variety and color of their dress. No uniforms here.

more stylish older ladies 1

That’s Contessa on the right

more stylish older ladies and Ari seth cohen

Ari Seth Cohen on the far left

more stylish older ladies

What this book does is help us learn how to celebrate our femininity as we grow older, a message we all need to learn. It celebrates the poise and vivacity of women who have spent decades refining their personal style! This is one of the better `book of the blog’ types that I’ve read. You certainly don’t need to be familiar with the Advanced Style blog to enjoy the book but it adds some spice to your life. I list other blogs by over 50 women at the end of this article and all of them feature women that will inspire you and give you food for thought on how to dress stylishly regardless of your age.

The women in this book look amazing, and I don’t mean `for their age’, I mean just totally amazing in general. I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be the freshest and most inspiring fashion book of this year. The book is 98% photos, page after page of lovely women wearing the most beautifully put together outfits. There’s a range of looks from quintessential elegance to total bohemian. What’s striking is how much of the wearer’s personality shines through. Usually when I look at street snaps, I’m focused on the clothes and haven’t got much interest in the wearer. But the women in this book seem like they’d be good for conversation over a cup of tea. I wish I knew more about them, what their homes look like or what paths their lives took that made them get through the years and looking more vibrant and beautiful than woman half their age. And my point is that you can be and should be amazing too.

One female commenter on the article by La Contessa said it far better than I ever could, “I also want to look like a woman, and wear flattering clothes as they did in the forties. You can’t find a decent skirt, dress, only ugly tight fitting pants. Skirts so short they are embarrassing, and if the women wearing them do not feel embarrassed, I feel it for them. Men do not like unfeminine women. The more indecent you dress the more they use you and disrespect you, they cast you aside and try to find what they are truly are looking for. They like women with soft voices, genteel, have a brain so they can carry on an intelligent conversation, with tenderness and loving in the most pure and innocent way.

Can you find that today? No, not very many exist.

They have lost a great deal in banishing truly flattering clothes. Women trying to be men. Also they have lost the dignity and the nobleness that God gave women.

These styles are sickening and make me sick. Everybody wants to be a man these days, unshaven, sloppy and crude. You can have it. Wild hair cuts, some not even caring to tend to their hair, and they do not care how they look at all. Quite unbelievable that the so called modern generation can no longer think for themselves. The word for today is Slobs!

Women modeling these clothes always look like they do not know how to stand, walk or sit in a dignified manner. They hold their legs in awkward positions as if they have some unidentifiable defect. Too bad, Class for women is gone. Thrift stores offer more opportunities than any of the fashions we see in today’s store. Today’s fashions are against women. They have been this way since the sixties. The sad part of all of this is that they believe everything the designers tell them. Ridiculous!”

One of the advantages of being women over 60 is that “we’ve seen it all” – we’ve been through every kind of fashion fad and short-lived trend imaginable during our lives. Now that we’re in our 60s (and beyond), we have the simple elegance and freedom that comes from being able to choose the styles that reflect who we are while having fun with fashion.

Just take a look at these two fashion boards on Sister House Pinterest pages. Over 60 and Still Fashionable and Age Appropriate is a Myth.

fashionable ladies over 60

That’s Sophie Lauren on the left in her 80s

more stylish older ladies 2

more stylish older ladies 3

One of the great things about being women over 60 today is that we have more fashion role models than ever before. Women over 60 are still too often marginalized and made invisible by the media and by our culture, but there are some prominent women over 60 who are fashion icons and there are many fashion lessons to be learned from them which you can see here in this article on Ageless Fabulous Women in Femme d’Certain Age on Sister House.

You might also enjoy this fabulous video series on Sixty and Me.

“Be bold, be adventurous. Do profound things, dazzle yourself and the world. Don’t wear beige: it might kill you. Contribute to society, and live large. Life is short, make every moment count. It is never too late to find your passion.” — Sue Kreitzman.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy Lessons Learned from Ageless Fabulous Women.

If you are interested in the books, Advanced Style or Advanced Style, Older and Wiser, just click the link.

Here are some of my favorite over 50 fashion bloggers. They are well worth your time to visit.

Advanced Style
Style At A Certain Age
Lady of Style (DE)
Une Femme d’un Certain âge
The Vintage Contessa
Style Crone
Accidental Icon
Not Dead Yet Style
Susan After 60

Nov 03

The Best Disguise for Older Women is a Beautiful Dress!

What  has happened to the feminine appearance of older women? What has happened to the concept of “growing old gracefully?” You’ve probably read a lot of “what-is-this-world-coming-to” articles about the unfeminine and immodest appearance of young women, but have you taken a good look at the older women lately? From a distance, most of them cannot be distinguished from old men. The typical “older woman” uniform seems to consist either of lycra pants and flip-flops, tee shirts, unkempt short hair, and expensive manicures or jogging suits and/or spandex.

badly dressed women

I asked some of my stylish older friends on their thoughts, Donnakelli said that for many “it’s mis-matched styles ie..striped pants and patterned baggy tops with flip flops or bedroom slippers…it just signals  I don’t care… fact is I wonder sometimes if they ever did.  Or yoga pants and a top 3 sizes too big or too small…just no thought going into the outfits”.

badly dressed women

Donnakelli goes on to say “I can’t imagine myself wearing some of the outfits I see on “older women” yet I’m never told that I dress like a “party girl” which I try to avoid by hopefully being more in the elegant mode.  Women moving through age is not an easy journey, I think it may be more a sense of feeling its too much work for some women, but to be sure with many it’s a personal decision and they justify it by saying they don’t want to bother with all the girl things anymore…..I like being a girl and so does my wife”.

Another friend, Judy from Fargo, ND, tells the story about her wife consulting with a company with over 100 women employees. She was the only one wearing a dress. Judy herself has had a remarkable effect on the women around her. She started a “Sundress” Thursday ladies meetup group and soon many of the other women in the group began wearing dresses as not to be out shown by the only crossdresser.

Judy and her Sundress Thursday grou

Judy and her Sundress Thursday group. Which one is Judy? See bottom of article

Trousers are the least-flattering garment for an older or elderly woman’s figure. To make matters worse, most elderly women no longer wear supportive foundations, and their clothing bags and sags, making them look like a jumble of jello. We realize everyone wants to be comfortable, but must it be at the expense of femininity and beauty? And must it be such an eyesore to the public? I read where most women in America are “giving up” at age 52.  If women want to be held in high regard in society, the older women must set the example by dressing with dignity. The appearance of our elderly women in modern America is simply awful!

Older women have a place in society as wise counselors and examples to the young. They should be showing, by their example and appearance, that life is beautiful and good. Without saying a word, they influence the young, either in a positive or a negative way. One of the reasons women of our century do not look forward to getting older is the bad example of the elderly women they see before them.

Older women need to have the kind of appearance and attitude that inspires the younger women to say, “When I get old, I want to be just like her!” If their clothing, hair, and skin are repulsive in appearance, the young women will not be drawn to them. It is true that we are supposed to appreciate the inner beauty of others, but it is also a fact that we live in a physical world with a physical body that must be groomed and taken care of. It is our “equipment for life.” If older women have a message to the young, they must first remove the barriers of a slovenly and unflattering appearance.

Here is a group of beautiful and stylish older women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s that should inspire you, with the last one over 100 years old.

stylish older women

stylish older women

stylish older woman Sally Gordon

101 year old Sally Gordon

Could you pick out the trans women among them? Answer below.

Take, for example, the antiques that we admire. Are they valued and appreciated as much if they are just allowed to sit, uncared for, deteriorating from day to day, without being cleaned or shined? “Shabby Chic” aside, antiques bring us more enjoyment when they are repaired, cared for, restored, painted, and polished. Even a small table with chipped paint looks better when it is graced by a vase of fresh flowers.

As we grow older, our faces may develop wrinkles. One thing older women should know is that shaved, spiked, short, frizzy hair only emphasizes these wrinkles more. Compare such hair styles to the graceful, soft waves of a truly feminine hairstyle. Bangs, or “fringes,” make older women look younger, and they hide a multitude of worry lines. Hair dyes that are too dark, such as jet black, are very unnatural looking and make the skin appear more worn out and unhealthy.

Hairdressers and so-called fashion consultants are known to tell older women that short hair will give them a kind of face-lift. However, there are some older women who have dared to let their hair grow a little longer, gathering it into a French roll or knot, demonstrating that long hair, when it is upswept, can create an even better face lift. Some of these women say that when they let their hair grow longer, they felt much younger and more optimistic.

To achieve a soft, youthful appearance, older women need to stay away from the radical styles of the youth. Knobbly knees and wrinkled thighs are not attractive and only “tell” your age. The best disguise for older women is a beautiful dress! Dresses come in all kinds of shapes and styles and can be used to create visual slenderness and hide figure flaws such as saddlebags, thick waists, and protruding tummies. Appropriate shoes are essential to complete this kind of dressing, and you won’t have to worry about comfort. There are very comfortable shoes available that can be worn with dresses without looking like you are off to a sporting event.

Here are my favorite older celebrities that  exemplify style and elegance, in an everyday look.

celebrities

L-R Helen Mirren, Christine Baranski, Queen Latifah

Older women, do you ever feel depressed about the era we are living in? Do you wonder when it is going to be fashionable and acceptable to wear pretty clothes and hats? In my opinion, older women have to lead the way in restoring true womanhood. We can’t expect the young women to develop a sense of dignity and grace if the older women are walking around in sweat pants and windbreakers, looking gender neutral. I feel sorry for young women these days. They haven’t got much to look up to in the way of example in dressing, so they mimic the film stars or buy what they see on the rack.

There are millions of women over the age of 50 in our society. They don’t know the power they could have to change the sorry state of the appearance of modern women. We don’t have to have a peer group to give us courage. If only one woman decides to change, it may influence several other women to change.

Not long ago, I complimented an older woman I saw in a grocery store. She was wearing a sage green dress with pin-tucks at the bodice. Her pure white hair was secured by a silver clip. I told her how nice she looked and thanked her for helping to make America beautiful. She replied that she used to wear jeans all the time, then one day she decided she wasn’t going to do it anymore. Life is too short not to spend your later years dressed beautifully. There just isn’t time to wait for it to become popular. Do it now, and leave some lovely photographs for your descendants. Your life isn’t over yet; there is a future and a hope for you, too!

Here’s another example from middle America (Muncie IN). I  was waiting for a pickup order in a local Bob Evans restaurant watching groups waiting to be seated. There were several couples in line all dressed shabbily as described above except for one woman in her 60s. Yes, she was dressed casually, but her blondish hair was beautifully coiffured, her face showed a lot of care in her makeup application and her clothes fit well and were pressed. What a difference!! She was a movie star compared to those around her. Had I’d been closer, I would have complimented her on her appearance.

young woman to older woman

Young women need to avoid getting into the habit of dressing badly in their youth. The way you dress now will become the way you end up looking as an elderly person. It may seem kind of “cool” to dress in dirty jeans now, but think what it will look like on you when you are old, gray, and wrinkled. It is not a pretty sight! Think carefully what you do as a young person, for that will be how you will end up as an older woman. Get acquainted with clothing and all its aspects now. Learn all you can about dressing appropriately, so that it will be automatic when you are older.

More excellent examples of stylish older women are in these Pinterest albums “Over 60 and Still Fashionable” and “Age Appropriate Is a Myth

Originally published by Lady Lydia, co-founder of Ladies Against Feminism

Crossdressers in photos:

  • Judy from Fargo – far right
  • Older women. CDs are 2, 3 and 4

 

Apr 09

Fixing Those Styling Problems for the Mature Lady

Styling problems fixes fo rthe apple shape bodyStyling problems become endemic as we grow older whether you are female or a trans woman. Our bodies sag in the wrong places. For genetic women, you have the combined effects of pregnancy and sagging boobs and middle-age spread for both men and women. For the mature woman, it’s all about hiding the areas they don’t want seen but not looking like a balloon in a paper sack.

This will be an ongoing series from two of my favorite bloggers,Jennifer from Well Styled Life, and Pam from Over 50, Feeling 40, who in a collaborative effort are going to discuss all those areas women over 50 tend to see as a dressing problem starting with…

The Mid-Section, What To Do

Whether you call it muffin top, love handles or some other unkindly term, that pesky tire-in-the-middle problem and how to camouflage it is likely the most prevalent style problem we have as we grow older. So if you struggle with a spreading middle, let me start with the obvious.

  • Tight clothes are not your friend. That means pants that bind or dig in will only accentuate your bulge. Look for pants and jeans that pull on rather than zip, snap or button. Those closures add bulk we don’t need around our waistline.
  • Form fitting dresses and tops are not forgiving and best left on the rack. Look for tops that float and skim rather than cling.
  • Make sure you have a bra which fits.  Lifting the girls helps create the perception of a waist.
  • Clothes which fit are important, but clothes which cling are not.  Make sure your blouses or camisoles float away from the mid-section and not cling on every roll.  Also, often times Spanx or good undergarments will help to smooth out those rolls if you want a more fitted look..
  • Play with proportions. Choose a top or blouse that hits below or at the hips so your legs look slimmer and your tummy is covered. Bonus points for fabrics with movement, like chiffons, which are forgiving, not clingy.
  • Invest in a chic blazer. A tailored, fitted style or a boyfriend-style blazer both work. And get it sized so it looks great in the shoulders. Both will cover a pooch.
  • Bring the eye to the smallest part of you, which many times is just under the bust, with a belt, or a top or dress with an empire design. Empire waistlines create a high waist to conceal the parts you’re worried about. Peplum styles are particularly flirty and fun.
  • Garments with well- done ruching and/or wraps or faux wraps are all ways to trick the eye.The wrap dress is figure-flattering  for the apple-shaped body. In fact the wrap dress invented by Diane von Furstenberg in 1974 has become the iconic dress for two generations of women
  • Try elongating your look in order to give the appearance the middle is smaller. You can do this with column dressing in black or navy; a V-neck top; pointed toe flats; and long necklaces. A well designed tunic takes care of the issue.as will an asymmetrical hem line which will de-emphasize the middle.

The key, dress the body you have today.  Accept it and learn from others how to shave off the pounds simply by tricking the eye.  Once I did this, I was actually more motivated to work on losing the pounds and styling problems melted away.

Here are some real life examples of tops and tunics that are designed to flow with the body and I can’t say enough about the choices we have at Perfectly Me. I am in love with these designs. You’ll be happy with yourself when you look in the mirror

stling problems are fixed with this tunic from Perfectly Me

styling problems are fixed with these tunics from Perfectly Me

What makes me happy too is that fashion has reached another critical point and women are now more willing to cover their bodies.

Look to the runway: During the recent round of fashion shows, suits — and sleeves and long skirts — dominated. Look to the street, and the stores and you’ll see it. These Perfectly Me fashions are now mainstream fashion and will be for some time.

Mar 27

Lessons Learned from Ageless Fabulous Women

Lessons learned from the women that prove age is a trivial matter, indeed. There is no copyright on style, and as long as it suits you, I say go for it. To get you on your way, these ageless fabulous women have given us their list of the  most helpful, universal styling tricks you can steal that will work for just about every body. Guilt-free thievery, that’s what I’m talking about.

Carmen Dell’Orefice

Who: Model, booked her first cover at age 15.

The Lesson: Looking pulled-together is an art form.

Fabulous style icons lessons learned

L-Carmen Dell’Orefice R-Jane Birkin

Jane Birkin

Who: Singer and Philanthropist

The Lesson: A slip dress lends perfect insouciance.

Charlotte Rampling

Who: British Actress

The Lesson: Menswear inspired looks can be the sexier than the littlest dress.

fabulous style ibons lessons learned

L-Charlotte Rampling R-Carolina Herrera

Carolina Herrera

Who: Designer and philanthropist.

The Lesson: A signature button-down is an evening staple.

Iman

Who: Beauty company founder, model, philanthropist.

The Lesson: Opt for looks that are powerful yet feminine.

Fabulous style icons lessons learned

L – Iman R – Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren

Who: British actress and philanthropist.

The Lesson: Show off your shape in form-fitting gowns.

Christy Brinkley

Who: Model, beauty company founder.

The Lesson: Flaunt your best feature—sheer tights and an LBD are a perfect pair for killer legs.

fabulous style icons lessons learned

L – Christy Brinkley R – Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton

Who: Actress and philanthropist.

The Lesson: Black and white is always right.

Debbie Harry

Who: Lead singer of Blondie, punk icon, philanthropist.

The Lesson: Don’t be afraid to take chances and if you find a style that works, hold onto it.

Fabulous style icons lessons learned

L – Debbie Harry R – Diane Von Furstenberg

Diane Von Furstenberg

Who: Designer, philanthropist.

The Lesson: Create your own signature piece and always look elegant in it.

Iris Apfel

Who: Interior designer, philanthropist, style influencer.

The Lesson: Find a trademark accessory and hold onto it.

fabulous style icons lessons learned

L – Iris Apfel R – Pat Cleveland

Pat Cleveland

Who: Model, philanthropist

The Lesson: Maintain your flare for drama.

Ines de la Fressange

Who: Model, writer, speaker, Uniqlo collaborator, philanthropist

The Lesson: Help define what French style means, and then embody it.

 

fabulous style icons lessons learned

L – Ines de la Fressange R -Fran Lebowitz

Fran Lebowitz

Who: Writer, columnist, philanthropist

The Lesson: If a uniform suits you, stick with it.

Jane Fonda

Who: Actress, activist, philanthropist

The Lesson: Be the incarnate of, “if you got it, flaunt it.”

Fabulous style iconslessons learned

L – Jane Fonda R – Kim Gordon

Kim Gordon

Who: Former lead singer, Sonic Youth, author, singer, Boy/Head

The Lesson: Maintain rockstar cool in all that you do.

Linda Rodin

Who: Philanthropist, currently runs RODIN Olio Lusso

The Lesson: Choose accessories wisely and stick with the ones that work.

Fabulous style icons lessons learned

L – Linda Rodin R – Jan de Villeneuve

Jan de Villeneuve   

Who: Model

The Lesson:  Things don’t always have hanger appeal- you need to try them on.

There are even more lessons to be learned so if you enjoyed this article, check out Advanced Style, Older and Wiser on TG Forum (to be published on April 3rd). , And for more lessons from the stars, these photographic tips from WHOWHATWEAR are quite amazing too as are these Fashion tips to take from the 50 most stylish women over 50

Reprinted from Harper’s Bazaar.

Sep 10

Age Is Just A Number for Beauty Queens

Age is just a number which is why older people are great. They’ll tell you about the war, they’ll deliver you an old Werther’s Original from their purse and they’ll listen to you practice the trumpet even though you are terrible and need a lot of practice. But old people are more than just storytellers, candy-givers and listeners. They’re people, and they like to have fun like everyone else. Yep, you can be over 60 and be a beauty queen too

marilyn-oleary-ms-nevada

Marilyn O’Leary, Miss Nevada

Photographer Everett Meissner captured this joie de vivre beautifully in his photo series taken at the Ms. Senior American pageant in Massachusetts. Meissner tells us, “With the energy in the air, it was easy to forget that the woman who just rushed down the hallway was in her 80’s.” And the women did not want him to forget they were 80, and could you blame them? Meissner remembers one woman leaning in to say, “doesn’t she look great? You know she’s 80?!”

Not only were they proud of their age, they were proud of their bodies. “I was shooting one of the older women there and when I was just about to start, she said, ‘oh wait’ and opened the slit of her dress to expose some leg,” Meissner tells us. “I felt that was her way of showing she still had it, which I felt was pretty badass.”

So yeah, these women wear bold lips, sequins, jewels and tiaras like it’s a bachelorette party every night of their lives. And the best part is, they don’t give a f!@# what you or anyone thinks. Sisters are doing it for themselves. Take a look at these glamorous women over 60

It’s known as the first of its kind. The Ms Senior America pageant was created in 1972 to challenge a culture that worshiped youth and dreaded wrinkles. The pageant would embrace the experience, wisdom, dynamism and beauty of the older woman – even if a few had been surgically assisted to escape the ravages of time.

Last October, 61-year-old dentist Kimberly Moore won the pageant with a lip-pouting, hip-wiggling mime of Tina Turner’s Proud Mary routine. Runner-up, Dr Maddy Paschal, sang country song I’d Choose You Again, with a poem she wrote for her husband inserted into the middle. Meanwhile, Marilyn O’Leary, 62 delivered a one-woman duet from La Traviata. Talent was only one of the categories they were judged on – there was also their philosophy of life, community service and poise.

maddy-at-national-pageant

L – Kimberly Moore R – Maddy Paschal

Grace is a word you hear time and again in relation to the pageant – in both the godly and the elegant sense. These women tend to be thankful for what they’ve got, rather than grieving for what they have lost.

Most have lost plenty, though. It’s that time of life. Many will swap stories about cancer and bereavement, disappointing men and mistakes made, but more than anything, they share a hunger for life.

Barbara Hill, 70, talks about how elderly women have changed in her lifetime. “We used to think our grandmas would sit in rocking chairs with shawls, and grandmas are not like that now. They’re very sexy and active, and that helps them stay healthy. I’m as healthy as a bear.”

barbara-hill-70-ms-mississippi_

Barbara Hill, 70
Ms Mississippi

Paschal, 63, entered her first pageant, Junior Miss Transportation, at 12. When she won, her classmates called her Miss Dumbtruck and she vowed never to enter one again. She taught for 40 years, earned a doctorate, became dean of a college and, 51 years on, decided another pageant might be fun. This time it was.

She recites the poem she wrote about her second husband for Ms Senior America: “Just like the words of this old song/ Most of my life I’ve been getting it wrong/ And just when I thought my life was done/ I turn round and here you come.”

Paschal says the contest is very different from the traditional Miss America. “I never felt any of that thing the young women feel, because they’re competitively beautiful. I didn’t feel that was what this was about.” What was it about? “I think they wanted someone who was verbally responsive, who could stand on her feet when questions were being asked.”
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Winner Kimberly Moore, yet another doctor (this time of dentistry), would never have thought of entering a pageant in the old days. “I used to think they were a form of exploitation,” she says. It’s amazing how many high-achieving women were in the finals, I say. One, two, three, four PhDs – she’s counting as we speak. “Yes, pageants have evolved, contestants are more educated and well-rounded.”

kimberly-moore-from-virgin-islands

How has victory changed her life? “It’s the crowning glory. It has given me inspiration to do more things. I can’t stop now.” She hopes to go out to Haiti and Sierra Leone, to share her dental and dancing skills.

Photographer Sheri Manson captured the three-day pageant held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She was struck by the solidarity among the women. “It was a very jovial, positive atmosphere. They’d compliment each other on outfits or talents. There were never negative comments.”

But surely it wouldn’t be a pageant – even among sage, elderly high achievers – without a bit of backstabbing? O’Leary (top photo), who was one of Dean Martin’s original backing group the Golddiggers, admits she was disappointed to finish eighth after her bravura La Traviata duet. “Everybody was convinced I was going to win. But the woman who won was a dentist, and three of the top four had PhDs. I think the judges were looking at credentials I cannot keep up with.”

What did she think of the winner? “One of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen,” she says generously. Then pauses. “We thought she was singing, but she wasn’t.” She pauses again. “You know, the general consensus when she was crowned was that she was fun to watch, but that’s not what you would call true talent. Anybody can pull on a costume and anybody can mimic.” And one final pause. “But no one had any hard feelings.”

Some of the beautiful ladies of the pageant

Ms Arizona and Ms Oklahoma

L – Maddy Paschal, 62, Ms Arizona R – Lanese Craft, 73, Ms ­Oklahoma

Ms Missouri and Ms Louisiana

L – Jacquelyn Crawford, 72,  Ms Missouri R – Barbara Travis, 62, Ms Louisiana

Ms California and Ms Pennsylvania

L – Pamela Wheeler, 63, Ms California
R – Marie Tennant, 69, Ms Pennsylvania

Ms Utah and Ms Ohio

L – Sheryl Lee Wilson, 65, Ms Utah
R – Tula Serves, 86, Ms Ohio

Ms Florida

Jeanette Rosenbaum, 68, Ms Florida

It’s too bad they don’t have a beauty pageant for the mature trans lady because for sure these two fabulous trans ladies would be part of it

rita-and-gyllian

L – Rita Doyle, 85 R – Gyllian Symthe, 73

Sources  The GuardianThe Loop,

Dec 08

Can You Be Fashionable After 60?

Can you be fashionable after 60? Definitely yes. Despite the ravages of aging, your sense of style gets better and more refined as you grow older. Yes, our youth obsessed culture will have you think that everyone over the age of 30 wears horrible mommy jeans and Christmas sweaters. Yes, we know, many trends are geared for the younger generation (neon leggings), but it’s the seasoned fashionista who can exude real style.

One of the biggest myths about older women is that we no longer care about how we look. It’s almost as if society believes that women over 60 are invisible, frumpy, and uninterested in sensuality, beauty and fashion. What nonsense! Some of the most fashionable people I know are women over 60.

In fact, in some ways it is easier to be fashionable when you are a bit older. After all, in your 50s, 60s and 70s, you know who you are. You have the self-confidence to try new things and the wisdom to avoid the “trends.”. Whereas we need to be honest about the fashion challenges we all face as we get a little older, we are also respectful of our right to express our individuality.

Here are two videos on dressing for style for older women, but looking fabulous without trying to look younger.

 

If you’ve crossed the 60-year mark and still want to keep it poppin’, here’s some tips on how to do it.

Go monochromatic

bright dressWearing one, simple color like blue, red, green, black, white, khaki,etc) route. which will make you look slimmer and classic. Now monochromatic doesn’t mean boring or boxy, just means keeping it simple. Take a look at fabulous women over sixty like Susan Sarandon, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, and you will notice that they keep the patterns to a minimum, tending to focus more on wearing solid colors. If you do decide to wear a pattern, keep it simple and consistent.

statement necklaceGreat Accessories make a difference

You don’t need to wear your entire jewelry box, but focus on one wearing one standout piece at a time. Also, don’t be afraid to wear trendy accessories. By keeping your wardrobe basic, you can add trendy accessories without looking like you’re trying to “be young”. Stores like Target, Forever 21, Mango, Zara, H&M, are all great places to find accessories without going overboard with spending.

Denim adds great style

denim jacket aline skirt Reese Witherspoon1Denim looks fabulous on older women and yes, older women can wear jeans. I’m not taking about low rise, hootchie mama denim jeans, but a nice pair of trouser cut, straight leg or wide leg jeans look fabulous on older women. If you’re a bit larger on the bottom, try a trouser cut or boot cut jean, the flare will help draw attention away from your mid section and give you a slightly taller look, which is important as you get older. Also look for jeans with at least 2% spandex/lycra content- this will allow the jean to stretch to fit you and help to control any problem areas. Some brands to try- Gap, Banana Republic, Levi, Seven, UNIQLO, and Mossimo at Target.

If you’re a bit smaller on the bottom, then yes (gasp), you’re a perfect candidate for straight leg or skinny jeans (even if you have a bit of tummy). For those of you with a bit more of a tummy, try skinnies from brands like Old Navy and New York and Co as they have a bit higher rise (which will help it sit better on your waist).

Also, if you have gray hair, the dark navy color of the jeans really set off the gray in your hair. Pair the jeans with a bright colored tee from a store like old navy or a fitted sweater. But please, for all that is fashionable and good in this world, avoid wearing denim from head to toe.

Wear lots of color

As a “seasoned fashionista” there is no reason why you have to hang up your color wheel just because you’ve reached a certain age. The easiest way to add color to your wardrobe, if you have fairer skin, is start with the color of your eyes. Adding pieces in the color of your eyes is the best way to start to add color into your wardrobe. If you have a darker skin tone, you’re lucky, you can wear almost any bright vibrant color. The brighter the better.

Show Cleavage!! (Yes, at any age)

Helen MirrenRemember when women over 60 were told to cover up? Well those days are now a distance memory. If you’re got the goods, show them (within moderation of course). Showing a bit of cleavage is not only sexy, but can make you look thinner (the rule: the more skin you show the thinner you look).

Other things to include in your wardrobe
• A leather skirt, which is now considered a classic.
• A pair of tailored black pants in light fabrics like cotton and rayon. Again, look for pants will a little spandex/lycra content- this will help to control any problem areas.
• For skirts, stick to straight or A-line cuts that hit slightly below the knee.
• Wear a shoes with a slight heel. Try brands which are both comfortable and very stylish
• A couple of fitted (not tight) t-shirts and tanks to wear underneath blazers.
For inspiration, look at Vogue, More Magazine and Harpers Bazaar, which tend to have fashions for women of all ages.

Don’t shun your past

dont shun the pastYou’re a few years older, but you’re still you, so dress accordingly. If you think you need to redo your wardrobe, think again. Movie star Rita Moreno is still working the hot pink dresses and big baubles she loved in the days of West Side Story– just updated versions of them. She doesn’t shy away from color (we would really like to meet the person who said mature fashionistas can’t wear color, so not true) and trades the 4 inch heels in for a pair of 2 ½ chic sandals. At over 80 years old, Rita is showing everyone that she’s the same fun, fiery woman she was in her youth– with the same chic style.

If you’ve always loved the way you look in blue, or if your wardrobe work-horse is a tailored pair of slacks, stick with it. Love that strapless dress? Wear it, but pair it with a chich cropped blazer. You know what works for you, so don’t be swayed by others’ opinions of what you should wear. Recall your greatest fashion moments and find a modernized, mature way of recreating them.

Experiment with prints and textures

prints and texturesNo, you can’t wear every trend that comes down the runway, however on the flipside a twenty-something fashionista couldn’t get away with half the fabrics you can. So while you can’t go wild with mini skirts and cropped shirts (not that you’d want to), you can show personality in animal prints, florals and bold textures. No one does this better than 61-year-old Vogue Editor-In-Chief, Anna Wintour.

Like Anna, you can make a statement in your signature style. If you haven’t already, find out what silhouette best flatters your figure. Anna likes sheath dresses, but you may prefer an a-line skirt. Once you’ve narrowed down the shape of your clothes, anything goes when it comes to prints. Another great way to make a statement? Statement accessories, of course. Bold sunglasses, necklaces and watches look chic with a classic ensemble.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

aline skirt white blouse drop earrings_optWhen it comes to signature style, repeating a look isn’t just acceptable, it’s encouraged. Once you find a style that you look and feel great in, go ahead and buy one in every color! The best example of this is Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. She is both elegant and practical and is known for recyling her outfits for different occasions. And although she wears designer clothes, many are also bought at local department stores.

Crisp blouse, A-line skirt, drop earrings: it’s the uniform of the chic 62-year-old fashion queen. We see her in it almost every time she steps out, and are we bored? No way! She looks fabulous, and so do you in your signature look. Whether it’s a shape of dress, a style of shirt or a particular color, if it works, work it, all the time.

Embrace pantsuits

embrass pantsuits_optI’m no fan of pantsuits, but, admit it, you used to envy how chic Katherine Hepburn looked in her pantsuits. Maybe you still envy the powerful presence her ensembles conveyed, so why not steal her style? A pantsuit works for day or night, for luncheons or parties, for the office or the church, and they always, always look chic. Take a look at Exhibit A: Diahann Carroll in this gorgeous wear-anywhere outfit.

The pantsuit is the LBD of women over 60, partly because it takes a certain degree of sophistication to pull it off. Find one that fits your personal style and figure, get it tailored, and wherever you go, you’ll always have the perfect outfit.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it

And yes, you’ve still got it. Want to know what else you’ve got? Elegance and sophistication, qualities inhabited only by a seasoned fashionista. If you’re having trouble being convinced, this should give you a little inspiration:

helen mirren got it flaunt itCopyright Brenna/ Jason Fraser

That’s Helen Mirren… in a bikini. Mirren is 65 years young and as breathtaking as ever. Newsflash: so are you. Whatever your best features are, don’t be afraid to show them off. So what if fashion seems focused on the younger crowds, sometimes? When it comes to style, that’s all you.

Resource: the Budget Fashionista

Oct 17

The Challenges of Being Transgender and Over 60

Reprint from the BBC Magazine  with commentary from Tasi

Cat McShane

Those that transition

Transgender people and the issues that affect them have never been more visible. But life can be difficult for over-60s who transition gender, writes Cat McShane.

Teraina Hird was 67 when she transitioned. She did so privately in Thailand after being told she’d need to wait 18 months just for her first NHS appointment.

It was a daunting process. “If you’re 25, you’ve got your whole life in front of you, but at 67 do you want to spend three years in transition?” she says.

But Teraina, now 72, was sure of her decision and went ahead: “I felt I couldn’t live with my body not matching my brain gender.”

Referrals to the UK’s seven gender identity clinics is growing by 20% each year, and the NHS is struggling to keep up with demand.

boxing promoter Kellie Maloney

Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney transitioned in her 60 (Getty Images)

Older people like Teraina are often in a hurry to transition after a lifetime of hiding their true gender identity. Famously, Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair after transitioning at 65. In the UK, former boxing promoter Kellie Maloney recently announced that her gender reassignment was complete at the age of 62.

Cat McShane’s report on gender transition and the over-60s was broadcast on Newsnight. But age-related health conditions can also delay the process. On the eve of 62-year-old Dawn’s final surgery to transition to female last year, a heart condition was discovered and her operation was pushed back.

“The moment I was sent home before the operation was one of the worst days of my life,” she says. “For the first time in a long time I wanted to take my own life.”

Older patients are more likely to have picked up conditions along the way, says Dawn’s surgeon James Bellringer, who has performed more than 1,000 male-to-female gender reassignment operations.

Dawn's transition has been slowed down by underlying health problems

Dawn’s transition has been slowed down by underlying health problems (Getty Images)

“You’re more likely to find someone with diabetes or a significant heart problem or a significant chest problem than if you are operating on someone in their 20s,” Bellringer says.

There are emotional dangers, too. Many older transgender people tried to cover up their feelings at a younger age by having marriages and children, and run a high risk of being cut off by family when they finally come out in their 60s or 70s. Nearly half of transgender people with children have no contact with them.

Dawn’s son, Lee, 32, is today supportive of his dad’s transition from Dave. But when he was first told four years ago, Lee was deeply shocked.

“I didn’t know what transgender was,” he says. “I never felt comfortable talking to any of my friends about what was happening with my dad. I felt like a freak.”

Dawn with her son Lee: Getting used to her decision was a difficult process for him (Getty Images)

Dawn with her son Lee: Getting used to her decision was a difficult process for him (Getty Images)

Dawn recalls more positive experiences with her daughter, who oversaw Dawn’s first forays into the world of ladies’ fashion and make-up.

“It was a complete role reversal. I realised I was being told by my daughter, like an adolescent, to get changed into something more suited to my age,” Dawn says.

For partners too, transitioning places a huge strain on the relationship. Many marriages fail. Jane and Barbara’s 28-year marriage survived.

Barbara first discovered her husband John was cross-dressing 20 years ago, finding unknown women’s clothes in their wardrobe. She was convinced John was having an affair.

Jane's 28-year marriage survived the transition from male to female

Jane’s 28-year marriage survived the transition from male to female

Relieved at the truth, they agreed John could dress as a woman in private. “It may seem strange but it brought us closer together, it was our secret,” Barbara said.

However, John’s permanent transition to Jane four years ago placed a strain on the relationship. Barbara – a founding member of Beaumont Partners, a support group for the spouses and partners and an offshoot of transgender group The Beaumont Society – was forced to question her own identity. “It was very confusing, one thinks one isn’t feminine enough or attractive enough,” Barbara says. But after she took time to explore her feelings she “realised it was nothing to do with me, it was Jane who needed to be her real self”.

Most NHS Trusts require people to live in their new gender for at least two years before being referred for surgery. That period can be difficult, especially if done while working.

Teraina and her partner Anna May Booth, who’s 68, both suffered workplace discrimination, but at an age when it was too late to start their careers anew.

Anna says she was bullied by her line manager and lost half her pension because she retired 10 years early.

Media captionTeraina recalls the news headline which hastened the end of her garage business. Teraina was forced to sell her successful engine business. Customers dropped off as she wore more female attire, and she wrote to the local paper to explain the situation, hoping they’d return.

In terms of cost effectiveness this is possibly the best operation the NHS does – even in a 70-year-old, you’ve got 15 years of significantly improved quality of lifeJames Bellringer, Surgeon

Unfortunately, a national newspaper picked the story up and ran it under the headline “Mechanic loses nuts and customers bolt,” after which the business quickly floundered. She sold it for a fraction of what it was worth.

However, the UK 2010 Equality Act was pivotal for some older transgender people, as it offered a greater range of protections for people at work.

One person who took advantage of this was Jane, who’s 66 – once a headteacher called John who had feared being found out by neighbours and colleagues across a lifetime of cross-dressing. Jane recalls reading the document and being astonished – “the law protects me” – and began her transition.

Despite the medical challenges, Bellringer believes age should not be a barrier. “In terms of cost effectiveness this is possibly the best operation the NHS does,” he said. “Even in a 70-year-old, you’ve got 15 years of significantly improved quality of life.”

And regardless of the challenges, there is an enormous amount of positivity from people transitioning at a later stage of life, who are happy to be living out their final years in their true gender identities.

“I really thought at times I was too old to transition, but the older I got the more determined I became,” said Anna. “I’m so glad I did it.”

A perspective from Tasi, a non-transitioning woman.

I’m 74 and retired, but choose not to take my crossdressing further for family reasons. My wife is tolerant to a degree but doesn’t want it in her life which raises a new set of problems when we are together 24-7 now. I find happiness is relative because a 40 year marriage involves commitment and balance and neither gets what we want  but only some of what we want. Improvement in the quality of my life can not be at the expense of my spouse who has always been there for me during all the troubles of life. To do otherwise would be selfish in the extreme.

Although this article is written from a British perspective, it holds true from an American perspective too, but there is significantly less written about these issues in the American press. There is an urgent need for TG-friendly retirement homes. There is a need for greater understanding of the older TG woman and the health issues that she faces. And there is a need for equal protection under the law  across all the states. Hopefully the visibility we now receive as mentioned above will improve our lot in life.

The very positive fun part of growing older is that our fashion choices become unlimited. No longer driven to look sexy, we can dress in whatever esoteric way we wish. In fact, if you peruse the 40 plus blogs, you will find that older women are often far more stylish than the cookie-cutter fashion of younger women. We can combine color and fabrics in unusual ways and not seem out of place. These ladies from the Advanced Style blog is just one example of having fun with fashion as you grow older.

growing older fashion

 

Jun 14

Be Surprised About “Age Appropriate” Style

Age appropriate style is a subject that always pops up on the fashion blogs as well as in the CD forums from time to time. My own view has changed over the years rightfully so as you will read below. Thanks to Sylvia at 40plus Style, we now know this amazing lady, Dorrie, who at 80+ years old, is a stylish lady in her own right. And she is neither a movie star nor a pop singer, but an ordinary woman with a flair for style. She blogs at Senior Style Bible. We have much to learn from her, but her view on age appropriate clothing is one we should all adopt.

pictures of Dorrie

By way of background, Dorrie was raised in the Philadelphia area and has a flair for east coast fashions, but then so was I. Maybe that explains my affinity to her. Her career includes modeling, a cosmetic representative and a “Playboy Bunny” and an obviously thin body. You do need to dress for your body, nevertheless her words do hit home. She says:

“I don’t believe women over 50 should be worried about what is appropriate and what is not. I actually don’t like the term “age appropriate” because I think the subtext is that women of a certain age should not be wearing certain styles because they are too old to be sexy, and need to cover up their less than perfect bodies. It’s subtle, but it’s there, and that kind of negative messaging undermines women’s self-confidence and I don’t like that.

Obviously it’s important to be aware of what flatters the mature figure and what no longer works. Style has nothing to do with age, it is understanding what flatters your body, how to accentuate your best assets and deciding what makes you feel pretty. Fashion is a non-verbal form of communication, so what we wear, tells the world how we feel about ourselves. It’s important to figure out what we want our style to say….but what I know I don’t want it to say is “I’m going to let society tell me what I should look like.” That’s a form of censorship, and the idea that we have to edit who we are is absurd. So I’d like to see that term disappear out of our vernacular entirely.

pictures of DorrieDon’t fall into the “age appropriate” trap. You know yourself better than anyone else. Select clothes that highlight your best features and camouflage the parts you may not want to show off. Fit is also very important; a good tailor can make an inexpensive piece, look expensive. Also choose quality over quantity and invest in your clothes. Less is more. It’s better to have fewer pieces that are really great than a closet full of clothes that are just okay. It’s important to buy things that you really love. If you aren’t madly in love with it, don’t buy it.”

I thought Dorrie’s advice for women over 65 was particularly appropriate and I think it applies to many women under 65 too. Again Dorrie speaks; “Don’t retire from life. Start a new chapter in your life. Remain active, engaged and young at heart. Do something productive with your day. Many senior women have told me that once they are no longer in the work force they dress for comfort and no longer use makeup except for special occasions. Sweat suits and sneakers seem to be the retired lady’s uniform of choice, and that’s Okay. Not everyone has an interest in fashion. Some women just want to relax into old age and focus on other things. However, that is definitely not me. I want to stay as attractive as I can, for as long as I can…for me. So, if you are still interested in fashion and into looking your best, you can start by saving the sneakers for the gym.

You can read Dorrie’s complete interview here

There are many blogs for the over 40 woman that show just how stylish you can be. In your 20s and 30s you can wear most anything, but when you reach 40, be chic instead. I was watching an amusing episode of “Sex in the City” and the ladies (in their 30s) were bemoaning the ladies in their 20s for being so young and perky. Guess what, every age has its advantages (and disadvantages) and frankly I prefer the more mature woman who knows how to pull it together. How about you?

With a little effort, you can too. That’s what Sister House is all about. Read Tasi’s blog and our many articles in the Dressing Room and Library and stay tuned for our upcoming series “Dressing for your Body Shape. Here are a few of my favorite blogs for the over 40 woman.

Advanced Style

Lady of Style

Happiness at Mid-Life

Not Dead Yet

Flattering 50

Style Crone

Mar 08

The Mature Woman

Bugs Bunny as a crossdresser

As old as “Bugs”

In all honestly, I’m not sure where I’m going with this section but I wanted to talk to the multitude of issues that come up as we grow older and specifically over the age of 50. More then half of our transgender population that is visible is over 50 so this section talks to those issues. It is a broad brush approach that deals with our feelings about aging, the how to’s of presenting as a mature woman, to the health and welfare issues of being an older person. I’ll categorize them with links to the main articles.

And being in this group myself, I take personal interest in ensuring that the material we present is relevant. Perhaps “Bugs” is a good image for us. He doesn’t fit into any of the usual transgender stereotypes. He has both a masculine side and a feminine side, both of which he manages to keep in a natural, perfect balance, and well, he’s just a little bit wild and looks really good in a skirt  LoL

We’ve made contact with researchers, therapists and other professionals that specialize in the issues that we face so I hope this compendium of articles is useful to you. Although my focus is on crossdressers, we deal with the full range of subjects that come under the transgender/gender variant umbrella as there are issues common to both groups.

 The Aging Issues

Gender Transitions in Later Life The Significance of Time in Queer Aging.   Note from Tasi: The above article introduces Dr Vanessa Fabbre, PHD from Washington University in St Louis. The article is based on her PHD dissertation. She is becoming a leading researcher on aging in the transgender community.

To Survive On This Shore, a website by Dr Fabbre, combines photographs of transgender and gender variant people over the age of fifty with interviews about their life experiences in regards to gender, identity, age, and sexuality and provides a nuanced view into the complexities of aging as a transgender person.

For Some in Transgender Community Its Never Too Late to Make a Change.  A NY Times article on transitioning in later life. It’s very well done.

 Style Starts at 50

The Advanced Style blog  offers proof from the wise and silver-haired set that personal style advances with age.  Let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest.

Style Essentials for the Mature Woman tells us all we need to know to stay stylish after 50. Actually it applies to women of all ages.