Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Transgender Warrior

Self portrait of Leslie Feinberg.
As most everyone in the community knows by now, one of our elders has moved on from this plane of existence. This past Saturday, Leslie Feinberg passed away. The Advocate published the obituary that was written by Leslie's wife, Minnie Bruce Pratt, while at Leslie's bedside. (I will use the pronouns they used in the obituary.) Please take a moment to read it if you aren't familiar with Leslie and her work.

I'm a bit taken aback by just how much this loss has affected me and am still reeling from the news. In a state of denial, almost. Rationally, I know she has been battling Lyme disease and the co-infections that came with that battle, I know she's been suffering and that this would be the inevitable end but my brain is having such a difficult time wrapping itself around the news.

I hadn't ever met her, yet, I feel as though I've lost a family member. Yesterday morning, as I watched a video of her speaking at Sonoma State University (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaRF0Ohb1mg), the tears welled up and poured down my cheeks. As I let the grief out, my rational side was having a difficult time understanding why I felt so sad by this loss. I think I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it but I know it's partly about the passing of someone who paved the way for me to live in this world. To live in this world as my authentic, butch self.

Reading her book, Stone Butch Blues, for the first time in 2010 was the beginning of a turning point for me. It was then that I began to find where I fit in this community, in this world. It was the beginning of finding me, of launching a photo project and feeling less alone in the world. That book, her words, made a huge impact on my life.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

I will always remember how her words made me feel. Valid. Brave. Strong. Seen.

Rest in peace, Transgender Warrior.

4 comments:

  1. Wendi, you continue to amaze me with your words of wisdom and experience of life. I seldom take the time to read anything, except for text books, research, or homework assignments, therefore, I know that I need to express that when I do find an individual who is writing about themselves or writing about someone else in particular with such depth and perception, well, it locks me in a trance of wanting and needing to read every word and every line of which they write and sink it deep within my thoughts and feel it coursing through my veins like ink through a pen. Maybe it's my inner psychologist wanting to just analyze every part of your being "Yesterday morning, as I watched a video of her speaking at Sonoma State University, the tears welled up and poured down my cheeks"....or maybe I want to just know you. Your blogs and your posts move me, both emotionally and intellectually. My sincere blessings are with you Wendi.

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    1. Thank you so much for your very kind words and blessings, Catherine. I appreciate them immensely.

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  2. I had a similar sense when I first read Stone Butch Blues. It always amazes me how powerful the arts are at touching us on such a deep level. May Leslie continue to inspire others through writing, the arts, and authenticity - of being true to oneself - and may we as a community continue to connect through our individuality, diversity, and commonality and raise our warrior voices too. You are doing similar work, Wendi - inspiring others, giving representation to faces, bodies, and voices that may otherwise not be as visible. In that way and many others, you are honoring you are honoring Leslie. Hugs to you during your grieving and beyond, sweet friend. <3

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    1. Yes. Thank you, Marcy. Hugs to you, as well. <3

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