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The Trans-Aged Deserve Equal Rights, Too


President Obama has a huge blind spot on equality and equal rights. Sure, he waxes on and on about the need for non-discrimination laws and regulations that support transgender rights—in employment, health care, education, housing, the military, and in very other facet of life.

He claims to promote other non-discrimination categories such as race, sex, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. But the president is stone-silent on the rights of the trans-aged: individuals whose age does not align with the date they were assigned at birth. Why not? The logic is the same, and it’s offensive to ignore it now that a brave 52-year-old man has recently come out as a six-year-old girl.

Stefonknee (Paul) Wolshct is a Canadian who is estranged from his wife and seven children. But he has support from transgender advocates, and is uniquely special now because of his trans-ageism. Wolscht has two adoptive “parents” and wrote on Facebook on October 12: “Mommy Candice and I went to Kitchener Oktoberfest, and now I finally have my first Dirndl dress.”

Wolshct’s case indicates that transgender advocacy ultimately means that all self-defined identities must be enshrined in anti-discrimination law. Yet every time the administration talks about anti-discrimination law, it leaves out the trans-aged. Let’s first take a quick look at related initiatives coming down the pike.

‘The Equality Act’: an Act of Love for Big Brother

Democrats in Congress are sponsoring “The Equality Act” because—guess what?—the Civil Rights Act of 1964 utterly forgot to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Not only that, but there are still clusters of Americans who believe in the troglodyte view that marriage means the union of one man and one woman! Furthermore, many are having problems subscribing to the ten-minute-old meme that males are females and females are males.

Isn’t it nice to know Congress will protect us from saying wrong words or thinking wrong thoughts?

To fix such wrongful thoughts, the “Equality Act” will ultimately make it a crime for anyone to express such views, or even to suggest such things through their tone, manner, or any such subtlety detected by a potential plaintiff who perceives discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

You can also sleep well knowing that the broad scope of the Equality Act trumps the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It will reach into every nook and cranny of our lives: employment, education, housing, and inevitably the military, medicine, church, and family—ultimately all of your social interactions. The Equality Act is poised to set up hate tribunals like those in Canada, which you can read about here.

Isn’t it nice to know Congress will protect us from saying wrong words or thinking wrong thoughts, or ever slightly raising an eyebrow in the wrong way?

The ‘Equality’ Act Leaves a Gaping Omission

But we cannot sleep well, because none of the above protects against age identity discrimination. (I will not digress into how problematic it is that the Equality Act does not protect society against any number of other identity discriminations, such as race identity discrimination as in the critical case of Rachel Dolezal.)

Trans-aged individuals are just as entitled to anti-discrimination protection as transgender individuals.

Just as transgender activists will tell you not to conflate gender with sex, so no one should conflate age with time. Trans-aged individuals are just as entitled to anti-discrimination protection as transgender individuals.

Obama and his allies in Congress fully accept the idea that gender identity is a person’s self-perception of their gender whether or not it “aligns” with the sex they were “assigned at birth.” But they brazenly ignore a far more common source of inequality: total lack of equal protection for those whose self-perception of their age does not match up with the socially constructed date they were assigned at birth.

Discrimination on the basis of age identity is rampant in education, medicine, and employment, just for starters. I dare say it is orders of magnitude more common than discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Think of the 12-year-old who self-identifies as 19, but is stuck in a middle-school classroom. Think also of the 58-year-old who knows she is 75 but is ineligible for Social Security, and must suffer loss of benefits in silence. Let’s have some compassion for the 22-year-old (not to mention the 72-year-old) who knows he is 18 but is nevertheless not permitted to become an Eagle Scout, or even a Boy Scout. And what about the 69-year-old teacher who is forced into retirement even though she knows she is but 49—and is thereby deprived of living an authentic life?

Think of the 12-year-old who self-identifies as 19, but is stuck in a middle-school classroom.

Come on, admit it. You know of such cases. Perhaps you are one such case. Indeed, it’s a widespread phenomenon, yet nobody is even talking about it.

So, sponsors of The Equality Act: You must add categories of age and age identity for protection! President Obama and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter: integrate those categories into the military. Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, help them out on that! (Even if you identify as cis-49.) If that doesn’t work, Mr. President, you have a pen and a phone to put a stop to the widespread discrimination of trans-aged individuals.

At Least Harness the Age Discrimination Employment Act

Attorney General Loretta Lynch can take a cue from her predecessor. Last December, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a memo that the Department of Justice would henceforth interpret the term “sex” in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include gender identity.

So, there is absolutely no reason why Lynch should not immediately send out a memo in the same spirit that tells the Department of Justice to interpret the term “age” in the 1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act to include age identity. But including it in the Equality Act would cover all the bases in anti-discrimination law, including employment, housing, education, welfare, medicine, and, of course, in the military (for starters).

This should be a no-brainer. And just as gender identity non-discrimination laws allow people to change their sex on their birth certificates if it clashes with their self-perception, so age identity non-discrimination laws should allow a change of date on birth certificates. In fact, Caitlyn Jenner ought to keep this in mind.

Caitlyn Jenner, the Twofer Poster Child for Gender and Age Identity

Vanity Fair’s July cover story on 1976 Olympic champion Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn was intended to create a public opinion surge in favor of the transgender project. The transgender lobby has produced a blitzkrieg of gender consciousness-raising in the media and pop culture so all will get on board with its agenda.

I ask you: Does Caitlyn look 65 years old?

Take a good look at that “Call Me Caitlyn” cover photo. I’m not talking about Jenner’s simulated breasts, facial feminization surgery, bunny corset, or even the crotch binding. In fact, I’m not talking about gender at all. Instead, I ask you: Does Caitlyn look 65 years old? The answer is: No. The person on that cover does not look to be born in the year 1949.

Caitlyn is a virtual poster child for age identity non-discrimination. This means that while changing the sex and name “assigned” on Bruce Jenner’s original birth certificate, Jenner should also feel free to advocate for changing the date of birth.

And if Jenner is age-fluid—as I confess I am on a day-to-day basis—then perhaps the date of birth should just be left blank. Why not? In fact, why should any human being have to deal with the hassles of time and calendars and any such other social construct? The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal should take note here. It is hearing a case that would remove all references to sex on all Canadian birth certificates. While they’re at it, they should go for full equality and remove all dates on birth certificates, as well.

So, I say: Caitlyn—if you’re trans-aged, as I suspect you are—go for it! This would be a new race for you, one against that most offensive of social constructs: age. Just like the historical record is being changed to say that the woman Caitlyn Jenner won the 1976 Olympic decathlon, what’s to stop an age-fluid Bruce Jenner from breaking all age barriers and getting age-identity non-discrimination laws on the books in 2015? And beyond!

A Quick TED-Like Talk About the Age Identity Spectrum

Gender identity has a spectrum, of course. So does age identity, natch. There are degrees of magnitude and degrees of alignment. Very diverse, very exciting.

If I have age dysphoria, my perceived age is just as real as yours.

But I’ll bet you’ve noticed the age-identity spectrum a whole lot more than the gender identity one, even though you don’t talk about it as such. Just think of all the times you uttered a trans-aged slur such as, “Wow, she looks good for her age” (emphasis mine). Or maybe you were astonished to learn about a 10-year-old college graduate. Maybe you marveled at Fauju Singh, who ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 5 hours 40 minutes at the cis-age (i.e., the age he was assigned at birth) of 92. In 2011, at the cis-age of 100, Singh completed that same marathon in just over eight hours. Also at cis-92, Harriett Thompson (female, as currently understood) ran the San Diego Marathon (time 7:24.) But were they really 92 or 100? Doubtful, in my mind. And likely in their minds as well.

Let’s face it: We are beyond the dawning of the Age of the Trans-Aged. It’s high noon, in fact, and our laws should have reflected this well before gender identity came onto the scene.

To be sure, there are 60-year-olds who get carded in bars and 15-year-olds who don’t. We need new laws to reflect these realities, wouldn’t you say? The cis-15 year old would likely hold his liquor better than an alcoholic cis-50-something anyway. And if you think someone is cis-15, but he tells you he’s really trans—actually 42—who the heck are you to tell him he’s not? If I have age dysphoria, my perceived age is just as real as yours. So what if yours aligns with the calendar and mine does not? Who are you, or any bureaucrat, to tell me how old I am?

Oh, sure, when it comes to gender identity we all pretend to know about the difference between cis drag queens, trans drag queens, cross-dressers, and your normal just-leave-me-in-peace-but-I’ll-send-you-home-in-an-ambulance-if-you-misgender-me transgender individuals like Zoey Tur.

Just pick the age your mind says you feel! Most of us are probably age-fluid anyway.

We understand the need for society’s approval, we understand the need to “pass” and even the terror some transgender folk have about being “read” in public. In Jungian terms, some of us also seriously understand that there are elements of the anima and animus—the female and the male—in each of us. Some may have more of one than the other, and it crosses over in varying degrees.

So the age-identity spectrum is very similar. Until those Google boys in Silicon Valley capture their dream of pushing us all into a post-human future, our bodies still each come with a beginning and an end in time. But you needn’t accept this as a fact. Just pick the age your mind says you feel! Most of us are probably age-fluid anyway. Some days I’m 23. Other days I’m 85. Wouldn’t it be great if everybody understood?

So fix society! Anti-discrimination laws like The “Equality” Act absolutely must include age identity as a protected category. Until then, we will have to put up with the slurs of those who judge us by the outdated Calendar Standard, and the dysphoria it perpetuates in so many of us.

Typically, people in their 30s and 40s who have age identities in their 80s are denied Medicare benefits.

Not to mention Zeke Emanuel, the Obamacare policy advisor whose bigotry against the trans-aged causes him to insist that everybody should check out of life at age 75 based on the date they were assigned at birth. If Emanuel really believes in equality, he would drop his transphobia.

So here’s the bottom line. Schools are filled with “12-year-olds” whose age identity should allow them to skip the miseries of middle school. People collecting Social Security in their 60s and 70s who identify as 40-something are perfectly capable of working. Typically, people in their 30s and 40s who have age identities in their 80s are denied Medicare benefits. Even children at the cis-age of two will assert a different age identity than that assigned to them at birth, but are put into “care-giving” situations against their will. You know I’m right. Indeed, the list of inequality and discrimination goes on and on.

Enough of this foolish faith in “reality,” this quaint attachment to “facts” on birth certificates. Self-perception is reality, according to the Equality Act. But its language grants no protection from discrimination for our trans-aged brothers and sisters. And there are many.

Can’t you see this, President Obama? What about you, Secretary of Defense Carter? Poster girls Caitlyn and Kristin: Are you in? Can’t you see this, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) and all you other congressional sponsors of the “Equality” Act?

Seriously, please fix your blind spots. And grow up.