Stills are taken from raw footage for the documentary Gen SilentKrysallis (KrysAnne) Hembrough
M/F Transgender woman living with a terminal illness
I had the priviledge of staying with KrysAnne for about three days last week to capture her day-to-day life for our documentary Gen Silent. The film is capturing how much harder life is for LGBT seniors than the rest of us- so much harder that some people go back into the closet rather than face discrimination from people they now depend on to care for them.
I'm still getting comfortable with calling KrysAnne a "senior" because she is only 59-years-old even though the AARP now lets you join when you are 50! I'm not sure why I don't like it. Probably because I'm 43 and it hits too close to home. My mind wants to push off the words senior and elder as far away from me as I can. Somewhere out there after 70+ maybe?
But when I set aside my personal feelings, I strongly believe that her story shows how transgender folks deal with aging alone, in her case, with a terminal illness.
When doctors diagnosed her with lung cancer a year ago they gave her a year and a half to live.
But only in the past month has KrysAnne begun developing a support group after years of being alone.
She worked for days preparing a thank-you dinner for them.
When she has reached out in the past, they return her cards with comments like this one:
The most stunning part of our time together was the moment KrysAnne showed me several returned cards like this one from different relatives. And yet she remained in good spirits telling me about them.
There are many other problems that transgender seniors face that I was unaware of. Primarily they revolve around making sure that you are treated as the sex you have chosen: making sure the hospital places you in a room with women or the caregivers aren't shocked by your body (your genitalia). It's tough. Right down to making sure your chosen name is on your grave marker. Krys Anne is a Vietnam veteran who plans to be buried at the Massachusetts National Cemetery.
Director Stu Maddux shows KrysAnne Hembrough raw footage from their first shoot together
Aside from all the big discussions, I must say that her company and hospitality were wonderful and we have become very close in such a short time. I did indeed get to shoot her ride (see entry below).