Kira, remembered

I have a friend that recently came out as transgendered. She had spent some time exploring her inner gender identity in private and found the courage to liberate herself and publicly declare the truth in her soul. I am proud to know someone this strong.

It has triggered some strong feelings of guilt and shame in myself though. In the year before Xavier died, he had begun to wear women’s clothing. Not out, but just trying them on around the house. He got ahold of a wig and completed a look. In hindsight, this was a decade or more in the making. He had talked about feeling feminine many times. He had this alternate version of himself that he would use as his voice when he would journal, and going younger still he liked to wear his moms clothing much later than most boys will.

Going back to that final year, his 20’th year on earth. He began mentioning that he preferred dressing this way. Verbally nudging closer to declaring the way he felt. Finally, one day on our commute home from work, he told me he felt like a woman, and indicated his goal was to head that direction with the ultimate goal of pursuing surgery to fully transition some day.

To say that there was any surprise at this declaration would be dishonest. I had been waiting for this for some time. It was like this when Xavier finally came out of the closet to me. But for this, for this I did the unthinkable. I became scared. And I let my fear make decisions for me. I loved Xavier deeply. He was our first son. And we watched impotently as so much abuse was inflicted on this young man from so many corners of his life. Some of his family cut him out because he was homosexual. Many didn’t like him because of his bi-racial background. Broader society wasn’t much better.

I was afraid for the pain I knew society would inflict on him, even more than he had already lived through as a bi-racial gay man. As he became increasingly open about his real gender she would find increasingly hostile attitudes and much increased risk of violence.

I led with my fucking cowardly impulses and instead of giving him the support and encouragement she needed I told her I was afraid for him. I explained why. That there would be pain and risk and hurt. I didn’t tell him that she should always live the truth he has in her heart. I failed to tell her that I will love him no matter what, and that I wanted to see him feel as free in her body as I feel in mine. Instead I told him about the violence and hatred I read about and that I was afraid for her.

I don’t know if my uncompromising support in this matter would have been the thing that kept her feet from that train track a few weeks, maybe two months later. There are so many reason she ended up there that day. However I do know that there was a moment that I could have spoken kind words of encouragement and support. I could have cut through that layer of fear that wrapped my heart and allowed my true self to be put out there just as she had done moments before.

Now, years later, I hold onto this as one of many little moments I could have been a better person. I think of the amount of bravery that moment took Xavier. To admit something to a family member like this, not knowing how they would respond. Then how alienated she must have felt after the response she heard. Kira was so brave and I was so chicken-shit.

She died. She left us all behind. I try to remember some wisdom I heard about a family member that is the victim of suicide. That “it isn’t about us”. It tells me that she fought an inner war that was bigger than any person around her. It helps me move on when guilt is pointlessly intense. But it’s not an excuse. And memories like this drive who I am.

I’m not sure how to wrap this up. I do know that when a family member or friend or random stranger needs your support you just fucking give it. You ignore any words that come to mind that aren’t in alignment with that person feeling your total and complete love and support. Anything else is bullshit.

This is what Kira deserved before she died.