Monday, March 10, 2008

10th March.
A friend writes:
"Someone I know recently experienced a bereavement and was talking to me about it because of this work I'm doing. He said death made him feel like, what are we? Where do we go? and these questions had a particular twist for him because he's trans. I asked him about this when I was staying with him , he couldn't really answer the question, and although I can't either, I know what he means. A place we can't yet express perhaps. Do this connect with you, or not? I'd be curious to hear.".

I write back:

"As for your friend's question..
I remember soon after we heard my partner Susie had a brain tumour, and we knew she was going to die, I had the strongest sense that the female enrgy in me was wholly good. without qualification and that exploring and expressing that energy to the full would give me the strength to get though the terrible time that was to come. that my new identity would enable me to rebuild me my life after susie was gone. This was very clear and very intense: like a voice I was hearing from a strong guiding presence inside me.
This week has been difficult because last Monday Susie's mum suddenly came down with the most terrible sickness and diarrhoea. I should explain perhaps that Jean is an 84 year old widow, and a fundamentalist christian who has never worn trousers because it is against scripture and makes her feel uneasy.
I came out to her a few years ago when I was doing my show 'God's New Frock' and this has placed her in a dilemma. She loves me dearly, but cannot reconcile this with the fact I am trans. Because being trans makes me a bad person, apparently.
I cannot hide who I am - cannot hide my hair, cannot hide my breasts. Often wear make-up aroiund her. Am always called Jo when my friends are with us both.
But she continues to call me John and clearly will continue to not see me fully until she is ready to do so. (and I am ready to show her)
I respect this and try to remember not to wear a skirt, for instance, when she's around.
Susie was her only child; me and my two daughters are all she has left.
Myself and my eldest, Becca, looked after her at her house for 3 days until it became clear she had to go to hospital. She was frightened to go, but I persuaded her.
By the time Katie, my younger daughter had come up from Sheffield on friday it looked to all of us that she was very close to death.
But yesterday they finally identified the bug that has been tormenting her and could give her an antibiotic to kill it. So she was better by night, and today is better still.
I'm just back from seeing her; and tonight, dear love, she let me hold her poor misshapen feet. She said, "I've never had a foot massage before", as I gently stroked them. "It's lovely"
I was so moved by this.
It was one of the many, many moments when i was so grateful to be trans. Because I don't believe it would have happened otherwise.
And to answer your friend's question, yes, the presence of death calls everything to question. Of course that includes who we are.
And because I often think of us as somehow missing a foundation stone of stability deep within that other people possess, perhaps such questions are posed to us with more acuteness.
But that does not need be a bad thing. Indeed, it is often a blessing and a gift."


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