Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Lost A Friend Yesterday

I lost a friend yesterday.

He wasn't my best friend, or my oldest friend. He wasn't a drinking buddy, golf partner, wingman, school chum, former lover, next door neighbor or casual acquaintance. He was just my friend.

Ian was a special guy. Everyone knew that. You could see it. You could feel it. And if he let down his guard a little, you became even more aware of how remarkable he was.

I've always thought of myself as a pretty smart gal. Quick with a quip...know a little bit about a lot of things...informed just enough to have an opinion on just about everything. But I always suspected that Ian knew something I didn't. I believe Ian was smarter than me, and I don't say that out loud about too many people.

Ian was taller than I am. Taller than most people, in fact. As a result of that, I think he always slouched a little bit, to try and not take up too much space, or stand out anymore than necessary.

Ian had better hair than I do. It was long and wavy. He looked much more like a rock star than I do...and I have, in fact, been a rock star at various times in my life. Ian would have been completely at home on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with a smokin' hot, candy apple red Gibson Les Paul in hand. Except for the fact that he was painfully shy.

Ian was painfully many things. Painfully intelligent. Painfully sensitive. Painfully aware of the world he lived in. Painfully different. Painfully inquisitive. Painfully lonely. Painfully courageous. Painfully transgender.

Ian was also deeply loved. His mother, herself an unassuming yet confident woman, loved her son with all her heart. She loved him precisely for who he was, not in spite of who he was. She loved him for being her child. And she worked hard to prepare this world for Ian, because it was clear in so many ways that no matter how hard she and others tried, Ian was not prepared for the world.

Ian's father loved his son too. It was harder for him to come to grips with having a son, rather than a daughter, but he tried his best. And through it all, he loved Ian.

And Ian's younger brother loved him. He loved Ian the way most younger brothers love an older sibling. It wasn't all hugs and kisses...but it was always love and support. He loved Ian no matter what his friends might think or say. He loved Ian for looking out for him. He loved Ian for showing him that people come in all different kinds of packages, and that is a good thing.
Ian's brother loved him...and I love Ian's brother for that.

I didn't know Ian for all that long. And we didn't spend much time together. We did, after all, live more than 2,000 miles apart. But we understood each other.

Ian and I walked simultaneously through much the same space and since Ian was shy, the fact that not many words needed to be exchanged was an added bonus. As with all things, we didn't share everything in common...in fact, on the surface we couldn't have been more different.

I'm older, Ian was...well...less older. I'm a transwoman, Ian was a transman. We both were raised in the snowy cold Midwest, though I came from a dysfunctional, poverty stricken family while Ian came from a loving, nuclear upper middle class family.

Ian was a gifted student. I was, let's just say, less than gifted at the whole attending school thing. Ian had the support of his family and extended family and friends while I had none of that.

Ian had what most other people would consider to be a future. I'm not sure you would have found many people with the same feelings about me at his age.

And yet...here I am writing about my friend Ian while he is...lost.

I didn't misplace my friend. I didn't lose track of him in the woods while we were hiking, or forget where I set him down while I was cleaning house. But I lost him just the same.

Ian was 16 years old. Ian was a transman. Ian committed suicide on Monday.

We all need to find forgiveness in our hearts. We all need to realize that each of us is not just special, but irreplaceable and valuable. We all need to recognize that perfection is unattainable, because there is no standard to measure ourselves against. We are unique....we are already perfect.

We need to forgive ourselves for being transgender. I think if Ian had been able to do that, my friend might not have gotten so lost that he just disappeared.

There are so many children and youth like Ian that can be saved. But like the oxygen masks on an airplane, we must first save ourselves before we can save our children.

This year, on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, I'm going to rededicate myself to saving myself, so I can save others. It's an appropriate day to do that for all of us. But it's especially appropriate for me...

You see...November 20th is my birthday.

I loved you Ian. I always will.



Valentina Simmons said...

So moving and so tragic. This is such a stirring reminder of why we need to help society get past it's collective fear of trans-people.

May God bless Ian's soul. I will pray for him.

The Cunning Runt said...

I'm so, so sorry to hear of this. I fear daily for the lives of the lovely trans people in my life, knowing the little I know about the burden they shoulder, the burden we could lift from their shoulders by caring and accepting and loving and trying our best to understand.

Thank you for having the courage to share this with us. You're beautiful, in so many ways.

Karen said...

All I can add is that from personal and recent experience (today), even beautiful eloquence or obvious caring can be missed through a lifetime of oppressive loneliness and absolute desperation.

And after finally admitting who I am to both myself and others, I am in many ways more vulnerable now than ever.

Navigating this is not easy. I hope I can one day reach back to help others through it, as I try to even now.

Be kind to others. That's all I can say.

helen_boyd said...


Celebrating an Angel
November 1st, 2007

Dear friends and allies,

Many of you know that on Monday the TYFA family suffered a tragic loss. The 16 year old son of one of our board members took his own life. Please pass the following information along to all of your lists, friends, and co-workers.

To all that are grieving. Feeling alone and helpless.

On Friday Night, 7:30 EST, a Candle-Light Vigil is being held on the soccer field of the Black River School, 491 Columbus Avenue, Holland, MI to celebrate the life of Ian Guarr. Where ever you are at this time, gather your family and friends, light a candle, and say a few words. In this way our angel Ian will see our light, feel our warmth, and know that we stand united as a community firm in the belief that we can change the world.

Let our lights shine. Let our hearts feel warmth. Let us light up the world with knowledge and compassion in Ian’s honor.


Kim Pearson
Executive Director
TransYouth Family Advocates, Inc.

caprice said...

This is so sad. I am sorry for your loss--for our loss. Only 16. Hopefully someday, not too far in the future, young transpeople will be able to look forward to a happy life, not an unbearable one.

We must all work for that day.


p.s. My birthday is the 20th also.

kazahe said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It touched me deeply and brought me back to a place that is much different than now. When I was a 16 year old trans guy I struggled the same way. I wish he was able to see that it gets better. 3 years later I am 3 weeks post op, 16 months post hormones and 2 years away from graduating college.

Other young trans men and women, hang in there please.

God bless Ian's family and friends.