Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Christine McClinton has been aware of her gender identity since the age of 8. At 20, she began taking hormones; in 2006, she changed her name to Christine McClinton.
Throughout her life, McClinton has had no support from her family or friends. Family members, McClinton noted, became very angry with her and told her she was crazy when she began to take hormones and changed her name. They refused to use her chosen name and told her if ever wore women's clothing on a visit she wouldn't be welcome.
In 2008, McClinton learned about the services that the Howard Brown Health Center provides and began seeing their medical staff for medical and hormonal treatments. From there she was referred to a therapist, Carolyn E. Gehle, LCSW, for help with her transition.
A few years later, in 2011, McClinton suggested to Gehle that they start a support group focusing on MTF women over 40 since that is the group that McClinton identifies with. Their goal was to provide resources and support for older transgender people since the resources and support they found were geared towards young transgender people.
The groupcalled "MTF Trans Women Over Forty Social Group"began in November 2011 with McClinton serving as a peer leader for the group. The meetings provide a venue to discuss a variety of topics and do a variety of activities.
With the group being newly formed, attendance has varied from month to month. They have contacted the Center on Halsted and the Howard Brown Health Center to get the word out and those organizations have referred a few people to the group.
Of the group, McClinton said, "We hope, most of all that the group will continue to grow and provide transgender women a resource to turn to, a place to be accepted, validated and supported. If the group grows, we would need a bigger space to meet. We would also like to partner with other people, groups or institutions in Chicago and neighboring cities who share our goals."
The group meets the first Thursday of each month from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 4753 N. Broadway, Ste. 928. For more information, contact Gehle at 773-472-6615 or McClinton at 773-710-0824.
To help finance McClinton's gender-reassignment surgery, Gehle has organized a fundraising effort through the GiveForward site ( www.GiveForward.com ). To donate, visit www.giveforward.com/christinemcclintonsurgeryfund.