I am afraid of getting old – not, perhaps in the way you’d first imagine, and which people older than me scoff at (“cor, wait until you’re MY age, and THEN you’ll have something to be afraid of…what are you worrying about, youngster??” or words to that effect).

I’ve never been afraid of Mother Nature’s aging process. Wrinkles don’t frighten me, or grey hairs, or liver spots. Young people not respecting me I hope I’ll be able to deal with when the time comes, and I’ve had enough aches, pains and health problems so far in my life to know what they feel like.

What I am deathly afraid of, and what I lie awake at night worrying about, is ending up in a care home where I am known as ‘the gentleman who fusses about his food and doesn’t have a…you-know-what’. I’m pretty sure that by the time of my life where giving up my own home might be a necessity, the testosterone will have worked its magic sufficiently for me to look 100% male, but if and when personal care is necessary, I cannot bear the thought of being an oddity. Being an oddity at home, on my own terms, is just fine, but not like that. And no, I’m not getting a phalloplasty solely so that 17 yr old care assistants don’t gossip about me. No offence to 17 yr old care assistants, but you get my drift.

Of course, my partner is 10 years younger than me, so if all goes well, I’ll have her by my side, and on my side. But if she’s not, how do care homes deal with queer residents? No doubt sexuality and gender identity are an important part of any care facility’s policy making, but how on earth does that translate to everyday life for someone whose sexuality and gender are not clear-cut? Just as with many other jobs involving people skills and understanding, some have it, and some really don’t. I dread being stuck in a vulnerable position with someone who doesn’t. There will always be people inclined to disregard policy and guidelines in favour of their own beliefs on how ‘people like me’ should be spoken to and treated. Which I can fight now, and no doubt will for many years to come, but my fear is of a time when I no longer can.

I used to have a pipe dream about running a care home for lesbians, back in the day. I suppose I could strive now for a care home for trans* people, but let’s face it, that wouldn’t work. As I’ve said before, 30 trans* identified people put in a room together will have no more in common that 30 random people plucked simultaneously, Star Trek style, from anywhere in the world. It would be care home carnage.

Segregation, whilst a fleetingly comforting idea, is not the answer. Legislation probably is, to a degree, but as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t always trickle down to those at the pointy end. Understanding, equality, fairness and openness would make up at least part of the ingredients required, but I cannot foresee a big enough shift in the way people treat each other on a fundamental level to allay my fears just yet.

I’ll be 41 in a few weeks, which is barely teetering on the edge of middle-age, I know. I recently had test results from the doctor confirming that my blood-pressure is nicely normal, my cholesterol is minimal, and according to some super-scientific calculation, I am currently at 1.7% risk of heart disease. So if all goes well, and the winds of life stay in the right direction, I’m alright for a while.

Strange that when I was 40, it was exciting, affirming, a landmark, and cause of all sorts of celebrations, balloons and bad jokes. 41 isn’t much older, but is definitely not heralded in with quite so much enthusiasm. I probably shouldn’t worry about what the future holds, but looking around at the world as it is now, my natural pessimism fuels those middle-of-the-night soul freezing fears for the future me.

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There is still no cure for the common birthday.  ~John Glenn

 

 

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