Ageism and survival

Despite everything the world tells me – the mainstream of course, but also, more painfully, the queer and trans communities, I have never been sexier. Because age is sexy. Wisdom is sexy. I’ve survived nearly forty years and mobilized for twenty and that is hot as hell.


[image shows: Otter in a cute black top standing in front of a wall painted in pink, purple, green and blue graffiti. She has her hands on her hips and is looking straight at the camera] [contains mentions of various oppressions and sui*i*e]

A dear friend asked me recently where the trans elders are, why we’re so invisible. It reminded me of a statistic that got stuck inside my body for months – that trans women of colour in the west have a life expectancy of 35 years. I don’t know how accurate it is (stats analysis was never among my survival skills) but I do know that it terrified me.

Racism, transmisogyny, precarity, ableism all take their toll on some of us. Precarious work and prisons and suicide and inaccessible healthcare do too.  And if we survive, if we make it through all that, we get to enjoy ageism inside our own communities.

Never again do I need to hear young queer people making jokes about balding or using the word ‘dinosaur’ as a slur. Every day I see those of us who have survived a little longer being thrown out with the trash of history. We no longer represent the trans communities we built from the ground up. We’re already outdated, our vocabulary irrelevant. And in these communities and spaces, we’re told in a thousand ways, that we’re profoundly unsexy.

But, I’m lucky. My sense of self comes from deep inside my bones and from the breeze running through me in my favourite wild places. My self-knowledge as a proud – and yes, sexy – woman doesn’t need external validation. I know exactly who I am and where I’m going and that gives me strength to get through another day. I’m lucky, I know. But it also shouldn’t be this hard.

One thought on “Ageism and survival

  1. Ms Melanie robson says:

    I know what you mean I am 69 and going to have surgery found about my 70th. I joked with the surgeon. That’s not a sexual position it’s my age. He joined in to my surprise his 70th is Nov mine Dec. But the MUSEUM of !Liverpool displaying my artefacts as a commentary on my jjourney. But they wanted to include my age objected and they readealslised that I meant business quietly indicated it was sexist and they could find a display which deals with gay men includes their age, fine guess what my age is not included i my display commentary


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