I lost my father to a very lengthy illness in July. It was amazing he'd survived this long, but I am thankful he did. It gave us time to reconnect and heal our broken relationship. I truly admired him, and so did the many people he touched through PTA, Little League, DeMolay, AFSCME and the Masons. Transgenders frequently are alienated or cutoff from family.
One major disappointment was the experience surrounding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the fall. The notion of a trans-exclusive bill opened some secreted gaps in the LGB and T "community". While it was difficult to see us get essentially blamed for holding the LGB's back, it was much harder so see what many said about us. Don't buy into the Stick and Stones thing....yes, Words DO hurt. It was even sadder to see the Matthew Shepard Act - approved by both the Senate and the House - get derailed with political worries. Hopefully 2008 will shine brighter on both desperately needed pieces of legislation.
A mixed blessing has been the many opportunities I've had to offer better understanding of transgenders to many here in the Kansas City area - service groups, universities and community colleges, high schools and faith groups. It is quite flattering to be asked so frequently. But it is also a bit frustrating to be cast into the role of the Town Tranny. Shortly after I arrived in Kansas City, I met a terrific transman, who had become well known locally. He said to me, "Looks like its your turn to be the Face of Transgenderism." I have a better appreciation for that comment. I am not ashamed of who I am. I will always acknowledge my past. But sometimes I'd just like to be known as Donna ^person^
One major highlight - which actually is two highlights - was a trip to the Bay Area for my youngest daughter's wedding. It was a joyous time and one in which I was warmly and richly included. The bonus was meeting the guiding light, Rev. Lawrence Reh, of First Light, a Yahoo group for LGB and T people of Faith. First Light has proved to be an enlightening and supportive resource. And I enjoyed our hug.
Another highlight was the Father's Day weekend trip in June. Yes, I did get to have dinner with my Dad - closing a circle that started on Father's Day of 2004. But most wonderfully, I witnessed the graduation of my eldest daughter from Rogue Valley Community College in Grants Pass, Oregon that same weekend. She is now doing well at Portland State.
A common theme for me is the blessing of my daughters - two truly outstanding young women.
On the faith front, I was honored to be the first transgender to provide the Children's Sermon at my church. Twice! And I had a moving experience providing the Trans 101 talk to the Academy of Welcome in November. It is hoped this effort by the Kansas City Coalition for Welcoming Ministries will become an annual affair. I also enjoyed an encore invitation to the annual GALA retreat, this time just outside of Lawrence, Kansas. The fellowship shared with these extraordinary members of Community of Christ is a genuine gift for me. Lastly, our church called a new permanent pastor. I have been impressed. Perhaps now I'll seek that Baptism I never received as a child.
On to 2008.