Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shaking off this mortal coil

My nephew's death has got me thinking, not for the first time, about how someone in my position should, could, or will be "laid to rest." Not that I am making any such plans. The days in which I would have taken my own life are long in the past and if they come again, none of you will have seen me in a long time or will have any idea where I went and what became of me. I have no active intent in this regard.

But I definitely have a situation which is just as much a "no win situation" in the event of my death as in life.

You see, if I were directing the events which followed my death, they would be 180 degrees opposite how I am certain it would play out if my loved ones had to bury me tomorrow.

So I'm going to take an opportunity here to describe just how I'd do it, so that it cannot be said I never told anyone. You are surely asking whether or not I've told my wife these things. I've mentioned a few of them in passing but there's little point in giving instructions I know full well she couldn't bring herself to follow, and would upset her to hear me request. That's not to say she won't read this - I assume she will. But there's a difference in having an open discussion of my thoughts and imposing upon her the burden of me specifically asking for these things to be done. I see no point in adding to the burden she already carries because of me. So this is not a round about way of creating that pressure - I acknowledge that it is a given that if she is the one who sees to my final arrangements, pretty much none of this will happen.

Since I'm not going to be there, who am I to protest?

So, here it is. It's actually pretty simple. I would wish to be memorialized (if I am at all) as Laura, rather than as my former male identity. This wish would be the more stronger the longer I have lived my life in this role. not so strong now, but very intensely if I have been transitioned many years or even decades.

I would ask that if anyone has occasion to speak, that the acknowledge freely that I have traveled this road and that not everyone agrees or approves but that I did so with a sincere desire to understand and accept my place in this world and with a humble understanding that I screwed up more than I got right - and that not just a matter of gender.

Further, though, I would hope that such a eulogy NOT take place at a traditional funeral. It would be my will that my body be donated to science - ideally to research concerning the brain science of gender issues first and the rest as practical. I would prefer not to have a"funeral" at all (or a casket, a plot, a stone, etc). Rather, I would hold a wake or some other such informal event in which those who love my wife and kids and the few others who would grieve my passing could express that love for them. It's my opinion that such an event might set a record for low attendance, but I would definitely hope there was an opportunity for those handful of folks to support each other.

I'd hope for a few songs - which I won't bother to list here - which would speak from my heart be played, and that only those who could sincerely say they loved me without judgment (despite my flaws) raise their voice to speak. I'd also hope that those who let their bigotry stand in the way of loving my family, whatever they thought of me, kindly consider this their invitation to fuck off. If I had my way, they would not pollute the day with any falsely professed sentiments.

Mind you, in none of this am I setting out expectations that those who sincerely feel I am in the wrong should change that view just because I died - merely that they put things in perspective, just as if they believed divorce was wrong but would still love their divorce friend or brother just as sincerely in spite of that view. I'm aware of a lot of my acquaintances professing that this is their position - but I'm also aware that in many cases their words and actions belie the claim.

Above all else, whether in my life or my death, I ask only sincerity and kindness. Do not fake a concern you do not feel, and be kind regardless of your judgments. Especially when it comes to those in my household who have no fault and no control over this situation. When the day comes that I move on to find out once and for all what God thinks of me, I hope a few folks will be mature enough not to act out their feelings of superiority in the sight of those few who do mourn me.

Now, over against that, what do I think WILL happen - or would if I were to pass in the near future?

My hair would be cut and died, I'd be dressed in a suit and buried (and by this incur debt on my survivors) in the traditional manner, with the traditional song & dance pretense of sadness by a lot of people who really don't care (and thus mock the pain of the few who really do) and everyone would studiously pretend I'd never shamed myself with any nonsense about being a woman.

They would remember me as they wished I had been, rather than as I was. Or, more charitably, as I had pretended to be. which, I suppose, there's no great harm in. After all, funerals are really for those left alive more than they are for those who have passed. if it makes those who matter feel better to cling to the illusion, I suppose I shouldn't worry about it.

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