|Self portrait of Leslie Feinberg.|
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.