She said, “You’ve lost a name, not a person.” She is Marci Owens who used to be Marcelas Owens. When Marcelas’s mother became ill with pulmonary hypertension, she ended up missing so many days of work due to her illness that she lost her job and consequently her healthcare. She became an advocate for health care reform but died before seeing or benefiting from the Affordable Care Act. Her son, Marcelas, picked up her torch and became a tireless advocate for health care reform. At age 11,he and his grandmother were invited to the White House for the signing of the Affordable Care Act.
Now 17, Marcelas is a transgender woman named Marci. Her statement above was in response to her grandmother’s lamenting the loss of the little boy, Marcelas. His grandmother actually went on to say that she also loved that she has gained another granddaughter.
Marci nailed it as far as I’m concerned. Transgender folks haven’t been lost, they have been found. They have found themselves. Their name and gender may change but their personhood has not been lost. And yet, it can take time for family and friends to realize that what they perceive as being lost was really a case of being found. It is not uncommon for parents to go through grieving the child they had originally known as one gender. They have to celebrate and let go of that child and welcome and embrace a differently gendered child into their hearts. But as Marci said, what has been lost was a name, not a person.
So today I celebrate not just Marci but her grandmother who loved her grandchild so much that she gave herself over to both grief and joy. May we all follow her lead.
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,