Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dearest Leslie Feinberg

Originally posted to facebook on the day of Leslie Feinberg's death.

Dearest Leslie Feinberg,

There a thousand things I want to say to you. Where do you start when someone who has saved your life passes on?

I mean this in multiple ways. Maybe in the way that many people often tell authors that they have saved their lives... Reading Stone Butch Blues saved my life, yes. It validated me, my trauma, my responses to trauma, my gender, my sexuality, and my struggle with those things. It also gave me hope that no matter how bad it was, there can still be good found in this life.

But, it is so much more than that...

When I say you have saved my life, I mean you really have saved my life. Literally. You've made this world safer for me. Your work, your activism, your writing, your existence, your perseverance, and you merely leaving the house each day has made this world safer for me. Because of you, and others like you, trans gender folks and folks of many other oppressed groups from my generation are more likely to get the medical care we need, are more likely to walk the streets safely, are more likely to have our basic needs met, and are more likely to be seen as human. Because of your work and that of those like you, I have doctors who are tender and sweet and care about me as a trans person, a masculine female, a working class person, a disabled person, and an all around weirdo. Because of your work I feel a little safer using public restrooms even with the risk of harassment or violence. Because of you, I can work and go to school and go grocery shopping and go to restaurants. Because of you, I feel like I can risk all of that. Because of you, I know how important it is for me to be visible each day. That that alone is an act of courage.
Because of you, I value what and who I am as something part of a larger struggle. Because of you, I know I am not alone in seeing these intersections. Because of you I feel more confident not being a "single-issue" activist. Because of you, I keep speaking out and continue to avoid hiding.

Because of you, I am not only surviving this world, I am living it in, with faith that it will continue to grow.

I began writing this love letter months ago. I could feel you approaching your time to leave us behind and I was afraid. What would we do without you? I knew that you were struggling with illness every day. While I am devastated by your passing, I am happy to hear that your struggle is over. And I know that even though you are gone, you are always here, in your books, your speeches, and in the changes for the better that you have left behind. We will continue the struggle with you in our minds.

Thank you. Because better words don't exist yet.

Love, always,

In loving memory of Leslie Feinberg
September 1, 1949 – November 15, 2014

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