"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Monday 7 January 2019

I Am Too Old to Change!

Poor old Scrooge. He had lived with his infirmity for so long (being a "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner") that he was certain there was no hope for him. The three ghosts in one night did their work for him, however, and ... well, if you know Dickens' Christmas Carol, you know the rest. 

What of the rest of us? What is it that is holding us back? And when are we 'too old to change'? 

For most of us in the 60 and over bracket (about 17% of the population in Canada) the typical things that we correct, that might hold us back, are poor eyesight, and wonky hips, knees, and feet. Taking care of these problems has tremendous benefits for the patient and society in general. Those who are unable to walk properly generally have other co-related health problems. Families whose older members are independent have less to worry about. 

Getting older doesn't have to mean life with pain or disability. 

What of the older transexual? Are we ever too old to change? There are a lot of factors to consider and I don't expect to touch on them all in this post. However, I transitioned as a senior, so I know something of this. If the comment stream demands it, there may be more. 

There is no reason to fear gender confirmation surgery more than you would other corrective surgeries. The risks are there, and you must know them. I would suggest that you be prepared for a long recovery, especially if you are FTM, which requires multiple surgeries. 

Being older often means being alone. As a transexual, you risk losing friends and family very suddenly. You might also lose a whole community. For example, if you are involved in a religious group, you might be shunned. Some might say that those who abandon you aren't worth keeping, but that is an individual choice, and one you must be prepared to accept. 

Unless you have been there, it is hard to explain the imperative that drives those who transition. I had people tell me, when I tried to explain it to them, "You have lived this way all your life, so why can't you just do it a while longer? You don't have that much longer to live." That sort of response made it clear how impossible it was for them to grasp my situation. The fact is, the older I got the harder it became to suppress that drive. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to keep my life on hold for another year, never mind the rest of my life. 

I will admit to being worried that as I age, there might be some 'interesting' consequences if I find myself in a home for the aged. Physically, I will be accepted as a woman, but, if as was the case with my father, there is dementia in my future, what then? Might I become confused and believe I have to present as a male as I did for so long? The answer is 'yes', I might. Hopefully by that time, an initiative taken in North Wales will have spread to health care workers in all civilized nations. A health board there has developed dementia care guidelines for workers who interact with trans patients. 

Follow this link for another perspective on living in fear of dementia as a transperson. 

A really well-written article, 'Age has nothing to do with it': how it feels to transition later in life was published in The Guardian this past November. I would recommend reading it if you are interested. 

In so many ways, living a long life and getting old are not the same thing. 


  1. I cannot speak specifically for 'trans' people [I hope that is not a disrespectful use of trans] but there does seem to me to be a possible link/comparison with the unforgivable sin referred to in the New Testament. What is an unforgivable sin, and when are we too old?

    I think that in both cases, they apply when we are so set in our ways, too steeped in denial, that there is no hope for change. When that sad state occurs we may consider ourselves spiritually dead and beyond rescue, unforgivable, too old.

    1. As so often is the case Tom, your comment sent me off to learn something new. By the way, your reference to 'trans' people could only be improved by the omission of the quotes. Trans people refers to either trans-men or trans-women, that being the group I belong to.

      The unforgivable sin seems to me to be denial of the spirit, and someone who cannot or will not grow in life may qualify. Now, when using the word spirit, one needs to be careful, and as you suggested in the last post, we could chat about this for a very long time.

      The gnostic idea of the spirit as apart from the demiurge interests me greatly.

    2. I take your point Halle. I only used the quotes to mean I lifted the word from your post. But as I say, I take your point. I would love to answer Lindsay, but that would be cheeky!

    3. Oh, Tom, we are old enough to not worry about such things! Be cheeky!! Please.

    4. As I approach the age of 52 I find it more difficult every day not to simply accept the fact that I have fought how I was feeling from birth. I am not a fem looking male but very masculine in body shape. but over the past 10 years I have slowly been trasitioning and finally came out less than two years ago. today many people reject me but I consider it to be their loss. however, I too worry what happens if demensia or alzhiemers should set in regreesising me back to appoint prior to my transition. will I wake up one day look into my closet and wonder why there are no mens clothes in there?

  2. Hi Hale,
    A good idea I think to raise theses issues of dimentia that apply to all us in one way or another, but more specifically to those matters you mention effecting trans people.
    Having a narrative is increasingly important in life, as it gives one the chance to clarify the issues and make known views about a number of very difficult decisions, when the mind is in a more ready state than it might otherwise be if trauma ensues or any other event, that might exist in the future.
    So, what is the meaning in life, is it to be happy in the knowledge we have best prepared for what might occur in the future ?
    Or is it undefinable and will be influenced by our culture and beliefs?
    I think, for the purposes of just coming to some form of rough consensus, it is to find what action will lead to a good outcome!
    best wishes

    1. It seems to me that the big difference when discussing meaning in life at our age as opposed to when we were much younger, has to do with the acceptance or even thought that we need to use the time we have more purposefully. Now what that means to us is definitely influenced by culture and beliefs.

      There is all sorts of research on brain plasticity these days, which indicates that as we age, even if we do have all the physical indications of the onset of dementia, our brains can continue to learn and develop new connections that will give us a fullness of life. Here is a link to copy and paste discussing an interesting case study: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-neurologists-who-fought-alzheimers-by-studying-nuns-brains

  3. Thanks for a nice post, Halle. The Dementia link is truly a scary thought but needs to be out there in the health care community.

    Calie xx

  4. Hi Halle,
    Thanks for the article as I like reading about those developments. That research, and others I have read about do indeed point to the possibility, that our brain circuitry might have the capacity to repair or grow new strands in combatting dementia, given sufficient stimulus.
    Tragically though, it wasn’t enough for some loved ones I knew, and those I also knew in religious orders, who remained very mentally active prior to the onslaught of the dementia.

    My previous comment was more in the general sense to complement you on posting on this important subject.
    The previous questions were meant to be rhetorical, as is this one.
    What is the meaning of meaning?
    The bottom line is all of the above that’s been talked about so far and could be expanded upon to make up another post.
    But at the end of the day can’t it be summed up as people finding meaning as in mutually being desirous of good outcomes. That’s was what I was alluding to previously.
    Best wishes