Sunday, March 08, 2009

March 8th 2009
Yesterday I was at another funeral.
I met Marcella Althaus-Reid when she and I and a muslim were taking part in a discussion about transsexuality and theology, I think, at St John's Church for the Peace and Justice festival.
I was very ill at the time, on the waiting list for valve repair surgery.
Heart problems, I think, profoundly affect your courage (which comes from the latin word for heart). It was one of the first times I had spoken in public as an out transsexual woman. I was very frightened.
She was lovely. So supportive, so strong.
I sent her GOD'S NEW FROCK, and she wanted to publish it.
She came along to LEAVE TO REMAIN and wrote and spoke about it in an utterly lovely way.
She was someone I so wanted to know better.
But in the turmoil of the last few years I neglected to. And though she seemed to have withdrawn from public view I thought nothing of it until I discovered she was dead.
And I hadn't even known she was ill.
That made me so sad.
I went along to the service, feeling a bit isolated, as usual. It was very moving to see members of my church there; and Maxwell reading out some of the tributes, and Andy leading one of our hymns.
I felt how much our church mattered.
I felt it mattered hugely that I was there: to bear witness.
The woman who spoke about her life spoke of how in her last weeks she felt she was about to pass through a 'curtain'.
Just as Susie spoke of going through a 'door'.
It was a big church. It was full.
I felt how much her voice mattered, and continues to matter.
She was apparently the first woman professor in New College, of Edinburgh University (and I saw the Edinburgh University flag flying at half mast in her honour).
I thought of me, the first tranny professor of QMU.
It made me feel proud, and wistful too about the ultimate failure of my academic career.
But strengthened me too: to keep writing.
To keep bearing witness.


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