Since transitioning in the early seventies, Clark, originally an accountant, has spoken publicly about her experiences living as a transgender senior, drawing attention to the issues faced by individuals struggling with societal challenges surrounding their gender identity and age.
“There are very few seniors older than us,” Clark said. “You’ll find Mama Gloria. [the late activist Gloria Allen] And I – I 1686783840 The oldest. I haven’t got the golden coat, but I have responsibilities.
Last year, she doubled down on the idea of raising trans senior visibility when she got the chance to work locally as a fashion model.
One day last August, her daily meditation question was, “You can be anything you want to be.”
Clark stood up and said, “I want to be the most visible 79-year-old transgender model. And then I politely said, ‘In the Midwest.
A friend of hers had taken her to a fashion show at Water Tower Place. She called and asked if she could walk the runway one more time at the next show.
Three hours later she got her answer: “Yes, be at the Water Tower on Wednesday at 11.”
When she arrived, she was told she would be doing two days of fashion shows, where she changed into several clothes, including a wedding dress. She closed many programs, she basically held the most popular position in the show.
“How’s that for a lark?” she said laughing. “Now it’s a business.”
In fact, she now has representation from a modeling agency in San Francisco called Celebration of Models Over 50.
“Now every time I see a photographer posting on Instagram, I say. [to call me]If you need a unicorn, as described by a 79-year-old runway model with a 5’11 frame, 46-inch shoulders, weight for her height, and the ability to hold any hanging garment.’ “
On May 20, Clark participated in the Trash Revolution fashion show at Macy’s. She was one of the 50 models intended to show “human diversity”; The event centered on pollution and climate change.
“Neither Chicago nor the world has ever seen anything like it,” Clark said. “Pre-sales were such that we had to find a new location. When we moved to Macy’s State Street, [we] We have more than doubled our capacity and the ticket sales are sold out.
Being visible and active has long been uppermost in Clark’s mind. In the year After coming out as transgender in 2016, she did some soul searching and was eager to contribute to the LGBTQ+ community.
“I joined [Human Resources Professional] Britta Larson’s speakers bureau, Clark recalls. “She was asked by SAGE USA to speak to some seniors about the additional challenges LGBT seniors face in accessing health care.”
It was a perfect question for Clarke, who faced many such challenges during her transition. She has spoken publicly on the issue more than two dozen times over a four-year period. In the year In 2021, she became active with the group’s Storytelling for Advocacy, along with Pride Action Tank Executive Director Kim Hunt.
“All I knew was about transgender issues, things about data collection and things like that,” Clark recalls. “We had 11 cases to advocate for that year and they all became law. I touched on four of the 11 like telehealth.”
Her favorite issue is finding qualified physicians, a challenge shared by transgender people of all ages.
“It’s not easy, because you don’t put rainbow flags after you list ‘MD,'” Clarke said. “Our health care system doesn’t make it easy, because everything now involves some kind of network of providers. So you’re going through your insurance carrier’s morals to know who you can consider without knowing if they’re culturally qualified. Or not.”
Clark also works extensively on housing issues. She is involved with Center on Halsted, Howard Brown Health, Equality Illinois, Illinois Masonic, The Village Chicago (a large social community for people over 50) and sits on numerous advisory boards and councils. She will also be the subject of an upcoming Peacock documentary, which she says is still “on the ground floor”.
Many—if not all—transgender individuals prefer not to use the name they had before transitioning. That’s not the case with Clarke, who describes herself as a “Gemini, a twin spirit.” As such, she said, the Stephen of her masculinity still lives within her.
“Stephen had his way for 68 years, and now he’s in the background,” she said. “Now Stephanie is riding this unicorn on top. But one of the other runway models once said, ‘Stephanie, don’t ever forget Stephen, you look good and carried you for 68 years.’ Now Stephen and Stephen live in me.