Two related stories that finish out this week’s issue may be a bit controversial, so I thought I would post them here to allow discussion among readers. They’re from the 7 December 2014 issue:
Mother Goes into Retractions
When Yolanda Bogert of Jimboomba, Qld., Australia, learned the truth about the person she’d thought for 19 years was her daughter, she published a retraction in the births section of the Brisbane Courier-Mail. “In 1995, we announced the arrival of our sprogget, Elizabeth Anne, as a daughter,” the ad says. “He informs us that we were mistaken. Oops! Our bad. We would now like to present, our wonderful son — Kai Bogert.” Her son being transgender “is all very new to us,” she told a reporter, but “I needed to show my son I support him 100 percent.” Kai says “I am still me, but I am more me than I was a few days ago and feel free. I am so happy with what she has done. This last week has changed everything for me.” (AC/Brisbane Courier-Mail) …I can think of something that didn’t change.
Killing the Dead
Brandan Klosterman didn’t think his friend Jennifer Gable’s relatives even stayed in touch with her. Nevertheless, when she died at 32 from a brain aneurysm, they ran the funeral. Friends turned up to the Little Falls, Idaho, service and found an open casket — with a short-haired body inside. “They tried to make her look like a boy,” said Stacy Hudson. That meant omitting that Gable was transgender, and had lived for a decade as a female, even legally changing her name to Jennifer. The obit for “Geoffrey” mentioned “his” tenor voice. “She would not have wanted to relive the horrible life of Geoffrey,” Klosterman said. “She wouldn’t want to be buried that way.” Gable’s grandparents declined to comment, saying it was a “family situation.” (AC/New York Daily News, Miami Herald) …No. Kai Bogert has a family. Jennifer Gable just had relatives.
As promised, here’s the actual newspaper announcement from the first story:
I love that last line (“Tidy your room.”) — classic! That clip went viral online — I saw it repeatedly on Facebook, every poster finding that motherly love to be a wonderful example of humanity.
Initially, I had rejected Alexander’s pitch on the second of these stories (AC in the attributions = Alexander Cohen, a True contributor). It just made me sad that, essentially, a family would desecrate a body, knowing it was completely against the deceased’s wishes. It’s just as bad as, say, burying a man who disapproved of homosexuality dressed in an evening gown, a wig, and makeup. It’s simply disrespectful to who the person really was.
But despite that pitch rejection, Alexander persisted, putting the two stories together so I could appreciate the flow between them. He did the work knowing he might not get paid for it, but he was right, the flow is powerful, and I published them together despite knowing that some readers will hate both stories.
In other words, I know some readers will have problems with “those people.” Tough: the bottom line is, they are people, and both deserve the same basic respect any person gets; that’s how the family relatives in the second story miserably failed. It’s not our job to make their lives harder than they already are. I support transgenders’ ability to marry, too — just like everyone else.
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