This marks the first year I’ve officially observed Transgender Day Of Remembrance, as I promised myself I’d make it to one event somewhere close to home this year. It’s fitting, because I’m finally coming to terms with the need to express my feminine side, and, well, like it or not, I am part of the “T” in LGBT. It’s a journey that has its perils, if you’re not too careful. Unfortunately, some of us out there have paid a terrible price for simply wanting to live their lives as they wished to do. This is the time to remember those who have been victims of transphobic-related violence and/or hate crimes, but also to remember those of us who are still here are part of a community that’s striving to be thought of as normal, and not deviants, freaks, or fodder for Jerry Springer, or Ticked Off Trannies With Knives, etc.
Anyway, I had an idea, inspired by the Transgender Day Of Remembrance Webcomic Project, to write a fictional story, from the point of view of “What if I were killed because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time?” – Ultimately, I’ve chose to scrap it, but I’ve saved the ending I came up with, for posterity’s sake… I’m ditching it to tell the story of someone I crossed paths with briefly, whom a lot of people in my area of Northern California may have forgotten, but I have not, for he has had some small effect upon me.
(The Scrapped Story basic plotline: A dramatization based upon one of my worst fears – Becoming a victim of trans-related violence. In other words, as I’m barely beginning the greatest journey of my life, it comes to an end, not of my own choosing. I’m simply killed because someone resents my choice to find the courage to live my life the way I wish.)
(A sample ending….)“I remember hearing the sound of a gunshot, and how it sounded somewhat different than it did in the movies and on TV. I took one shot to the chest, close enough to my heart to stop it. I remember being thrown back against my car, then crumpling to the ground as the life drained out of me. I remember looking upon my murderer, my eyes questioning them – ‘Why? Why did you do this to me? What did I do to you?’ All I could think of about was the one final indignity closing out my life – Being found dressed up, without my wig, in a pool of blood. My new friends distraught, yet nothing could be done to save me. I was dead before I hit the ground.”
“My mother, father, and sister will be saddened, yet, they’ll never understand how I came to end up like this, since I never told them, and now, they have to live with the humiliation of my final moments, and questions that will forever be unanswered. I can only pray to God that in their eyes, I’m not a freak, a pervert, or a deviant.”
“And, my friends, not only the ones I came out to, but those who still know me as male? What will they think? Will they remember me? Will there be good memories outweighing the bad ones? How long until they find out I’m gone?”
“And the son of a bitch who tried to justify their machismo by taking my life? I bet if I wasn’t trans, they’d most likely get life imprisonment, if not Death Row.”
“And my own life…. In the end, amounting to nothing…. I’m just another name added to the growing list. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. I’d give anything to have another day in this world.”
(Fortunately, this is just a story I came up with. Unfortunately, similar scenarios happen all too often. Around the world, someone is murdered about every two days, simply for being who they are. This has to stop. No more transphobia. No more violence. No more hate. No more spilled blood…. No more tears…. Please.)
So, the draft has been cast aside, and only exists in this incomplete format. I wanted to use this forum to remember someone I met in my early days of anime fandom, back when I was exclusively going out and about in boy-mode, and quite a few years before I started cosplaying.
I first heard about him in, I believe, 1995. It was a cosplay contest at a convention held in San Jose, Califorina, at what is now the Doubletree Hotel (Formerly the Red Lion Inn), the place where Baycon was held for quite a few years, and it was the hotel that spawned AnimeCon 1991, as well as Anime Expo’s first official year of existence in 1992 (Having evolved from AnimeCon ’91), and a few other smaller cons, such as Anime America in 1995.
One of the contestants was a person who I believe, showed up as Ranma-kun, and also as Shampoo from Ranma 1/2. This was one of the first times I’ve seen anyone cross-play (Cosplaying as a character of a gender opposite their own, as has become more commonplace nowadays – I was a fan in the era of the crossdressing Sailor Moon costumers. ^_^; ) – This guy, known as Peter Brown, was a bit heavyset, though young (Part Asian, at least), a bit soft-spoken, very long and well-kept fingernails (About 3/4 inch long, not sure if he took the time to grow them out, or if they were very good acrylics), and long hair I’d die to be able to achieve growing out. He seemed a bit effeminate, he may have been gay, but that’s not important. (I do seem to remember him at an anime club showing up at Foothill College in Los Altos, CA, and he was showing interest in a guy friend of mine, showing off how much weight he lost, etc.)
There was talk of some rather weird things that happened, either at that con, or elsewhere, such as Peter showing up at poolside in a womens’ swimsuit. I do remember him going around at Fanime around 1997 or 1998, in a Sailor Jupiter costume, especially after a rather shocking incident with a fake strip-tease, where I guess he was crossplaying one of the Sailor Starlights. There was a story remembered by one of my friends from an anime IRC channel I used to frequent – This guy, I’ll call “Fntc”, recalled an incident where I guess he was tired out or something, and Peter offered him a cup of water, asking him if he was ok. “Fntc” found it funny that a guy in a dress was asking him if he was ok. ^_^;
Time went on, and he did other costumes, primarily boy-mode costumes. I remember seeing pictures of him as Allen Schezar from The Vision of Escaflowne, as well as a very well-designed Captain Harlock outfit. The last time I saw him at any anime-related events was around 2004. There was a special award given out to him at FanimeCon 2004, where he was recognized for his pioneering efforts in cosplay, since he lived in the Bay Area. Still, in spite of all this, at times, some of us made jokes about him at his expense, if nothing else, to make ourselves feel better we weren’t like him, even if some of us were jealous that he did what he wished to do. I just remember he was quite talented at putting together costumes.
2005 came around, bringing the Cherry Blossom Parade in San Francisco, and I heard from another friend of mine, “Linus”, from my IRC channel, as he was one of the “media” photographers, getting photos of the event for his web site. “Linus” told me that Peter Brown had taken his own life. At that moment, it was as if the world fell silent for me. I didn’t know him that well, and now I felt sorry for being one of the crowd who ridiculed him, yet secretly admired him for having the courage to do what he wanted to do. I’ll never know what demons he was battling, and I regret not getting to know him better. Even though he left this world by his own hand, I feel he should not be overlooked.
Even though most of us may have forgotten him – Peter Brown, I have not forgotten you. As long as I continue to exist upon this Earth, I’ll remember you… Farewell, until we meet again at the big gathering at the end of time….
“Every light extinguished brings the night ever closer. Every voice silenced quiets the choir.”