Ask Dr. Kit
One subject we’ve recently discussed is the effect of age on TG desires..that both sexuality and TG feelings may decline with age. Don’t know if it’s true or not.
Do TG desires decline with age?
Do TG desires decline with age? I suspect that if you are asking that question then some people involved in that conversation have actually seen desire decline; so it cannot be denied that something real changed. But, as you will no doubt notice, it does not change all people in the same way. What exactly are the feelings that diminish? Probably the desire to dress like a woman, be seen as a woman, make love to one’s self and others as a woman. This might be accompanied by a reduced desire to research on the internet, talk about transgender subjects, or buy clothing. Some people may remember the excitement that dressing and making contact with other TG people had when it was new. Some of that excitement goes away simply because it is no longer new. Some people find their female selves later in life and the excitement never ceases. Others peak in adolescence or young adulthood and by mid-life it is all old-news. But even that statement is too simplistic. In what is no-doubt a web of complex personal factors, let us consider two points:
- Lust vs. Love
If there is an erotic component to crossdressing or gender presentation then that will change as sexual drive changes with age. As people age their sex drive may be somewhat less urgent and less strong then when they were younger. They may need sexual release and expression less frequently. This is not true for everyone, just a generalization that is true for many. When this happens, the sexual aspects of gender expression may become less charged. The sparkling erotic love affair that one had with one’s female self in early adulthood can transform late in life into a the companionable love that one has for a long-term partner. Your partner may be essential for your life happiness and you still love them, but the sexual pull may be much less than it was earlier in life. Many people report this as a transition from erotic crossdressing to a feeling of solid female identity. This can be aided by the natural effects of age.
- Interests Change Over Time
Interests change as people age. When a sixteen year old wants a tattoo, or when a nineteen year old wants to transition gender, the parents inevitably bemoan the fact that their child is too young to make this commitment. The parent says “I am not the same person that I was when I was (18, 19,, 22…)”. The older you get, the more you appreciate the truth of this statement. Of course some things stay the same, in other ways we are profoundly changed. Most cis people (non-TG people) maintain some stability in their gender identity and sexual orientation throughout their life. But if you look very closely you will see that within that gender and sexual orientation there are considerable degrees of change. Over the course of life cis women see changes in wardrobe, changes in body, changes in sexuality, and changes in preferences for social activities; so why would TG women not change? People develop new interests, lose interest in old hobbies, let go of old friendships and engage new social groups. This can be a natural part of life. If your social life revolves around TG activities, then these shifts may involve some degree of withdrawal from the TG community or reducing TG expression for a period of time.
Points one and two could account for diminished TG desire in at least some of the people. But there is a third element that is all-important and that is the tendency for TG desires to ebb and flow. Many of the readers will have experienced the intensity of their desires go up and down over the years. Sometimes in mid-life the desire goes way up and never goes down again. Other times it decreases and never goes up again. Who knows why? The tricky thing is that you never know until life is over whether the desire will swing again. Just because it is at a low when you are seventy, does not mean that it will not be at a high when you are eighty. This bit of uncertainty means that we must always look at gender identity and sexuality as a process. There is no static experience. You do not have to lock yourself into an identity label or definition of yourself. Stay open to change and don’t write-off people who take a break from TG expressions or reduce contact with community. It’s not over till it’s over.
Dr. Katherine Rachlin is a clinical psychologist, gender specialist, and sex therapist in private practice in New York City. Her website is www. katherinerachlin.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-206-3636