Thursday, December 31, 2015

Auld Lang Syne; Saying Goodbye to a Friend

It is New Year's Eve in Astana, Kazakhstan.  I've already described the scene in my current web journal (Year's End on the Frozen Steppe), and this short note is in the nature of a PS.

The time has come for this, my first web journal, to say goodbye to a friend.  I trust we are still friends in life and shared experience, but like many of us who are several years past transition, my friend has decided to withdraw from activism and has asked me to remove the articles I once wrote about her here with her permission.  It is a request I will honor over the New Year's weekend.  For any reader who may already have divined about whom I am speaking, this will be your last opportunity to read those postings before I voluntarily remove them.

My friend is one of the lucky ones who has transitioned well, but in the country where she lives being transgender is still a liability.  She has been denied jobs or hired and then subsequently fired when the fact of her being transgender has come to light.  Due to the Internet and, in part, to the postings here, it has been all too easy for her past to catch up with her.  Living in a country that is arguably the poorest in Europe and with an elderly mother in need of care, she needs a steady income far more than she needs the visibility from her years as an effective advocate for trans* rights.

My friend's request makes me reflect again on how lucky we are in the United States.  Although transition is never easy, it is now increasingly possible for a person of any age in the US to transition and retain employment, family, and friends.  I know my own transition that began in 2010 would have failed had it started five years earlier; it was only in 2008 that the situation for transgender employees in the U.S. federal government began to change for the better through the efforts, suffering, and perseverance of my predecessors on this road.  I chose a charmed moment, and I am forever in debt to those who came before me.  Unlike my friend from beyond the Prut River, I am able to live my life with my past as hushed or as open as I wish.  The choice is my own to make.

And so, on this New Year's Eve I wish to toast my friend for all that she has done for others and for the difference she made in my own life.  May the country where she lives evolve to a better place, and may she find the peace and security she needs both for herself and those she loves.