16 January 2010

Christine Daniels memorial - and trans Christianity

Although it's been almost two months since Christine Daniels' death, only today was a memorial service held by her loved ones, at Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles. As it turned out, the funeral had been held by her immediate family, the funeral was held for Mike Penner rather than Christine Daniels, and Christine's friends had been barred from the funeral.

Although Christine's transition story, the forced de-transition, and the suicide had been news items that were quite big out there (certainly for sports fans, since "Mike Penner" had a great sense of humor and wit on the Los Angeles Times sports pages), I never got to know the very private, yet very cheerful woman behind the story, until today. As her friends shared many memories of her, I was starting to put together a portrait of a life full of twists and turns, with plenty of pain but plenty of substance too. It had been Christine's support that had allowed many fellow older transwomen of the Metropolitan Community Church to find their own selves, their confidence, their faith, and more.

I especially loved the part where Susan Horn, Christine's best friend, mentioned Mike Penner's Los Angeles Times column from the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, where Penner wrote "the big nose pores on the soccer fans shown on the IMAX screen in Munich does NOT equal technological progress," and Susan herself, who had known that Christine's public persona was simply Mike the writer, connected the dots right there and then, since male sports writers don't make observations like that.

It was priceless for me to learn about a warm, lovely personality (though too late), and to connect with the part of Los Angeles trans community - the one that follows Christianity and bases itself out of the Metropolitan Community Church - that I had not been able to connect with much. Although some members of this community, such as the Social Butterflies members, had been familiar faces before, tonight was my first chance to come across some others whom I had been aware of only via Facebook, such as Susan Horn.

Although I have no intention of converting back to Christianity - and my true spiritual home from now on is the Unitarian congregation in Pasadena - I need to follow these trans Christians closely, since I've always considered my own Sarah to be a liberal Christian, but have had trouble shaping her spirituality. I also need to get away from the toxic anti-individual Third World brand of Christianity that is so prevalent elsewhere in Los Angeles.

On other notes, the hours before the memorial were spent in ways that allowed me to also revisit my own past, and see how I could construct Sarah's teenage years. I had made a brief stop at my teeny bopper stomping grounds, Santa Anita Fashion Park in Arcadia - though it's no longer a generic 1970s suburban mall that it had been during my teeny bopper years in the early 1990s, and is much larger and nicer today. Later on, I ended up in Glendale where I bought a floral babydoll tunic, a popular look circa 1990. Sarah's penchant for early 1990s fashions will need to parallel much of mine - I will continue to develop this. (It's already a given that Sarah really loves her leggings.)


Susan Horn said...

It was great to see you at the memorial, the next time our paths cross, I hope it is under happier circumstances. Sue Horn

Susan Horn said...

It was great to see you at the memorial, the next time our paths cross, I hope it is under happier circumstances. Suzy

Rachel said...

Susan - I do hope for a happier time for us to meet again. Until then, take Christine's energy and keep running with it. She'll surely want that for all of us.