Murder and Mourning: An Excerpt from ‘Coming Out Can Be Murder’
With the national rollout of Coming Out Can Be Murder coming up (June 1), I am busy planning a book launch party for the afternoon of May 31 at the Chicago Be-All Convention (Downers Grove Doubletree Suites Hotel, Downers Grove, IL).
In addition to music and fun, the launch party will include readings from the book by two very accomplished actresses: Honey West and Silke Lienhardt. I’m going to publish a few of the excerpts we are considering for the readings. If any of them evoke a positive negative reaction for you, please share!
This excerpt comes from early in the story. Narrator and heroine Bobbi Logan has just learned that her friend and hairdressing client is the victim of a brutal murder. She is still anguishing over the news as she goes to a meeting of the TransGender Alliance group….
MURDER IS AN ABSTRACT concept to most of us. Violent crime is something that happens to people who live in bad neighborhoods, or to sex workers. Oh most of us in the trans world get verbally abused, even physically intimidated. But mostly these acts are blows to our pride. They make us feel like freaks, unwelcome, unwanted members of polite society.
Mandy’s death is a shock on many levels. She was my friend and I am grieving for her. I had no idea Marilee and Mandy knew each other but she must be the client Marilee was talking about on Saturday. And her death is a message to all us trannies: no matter where you are, who you are or how good you look, you are not safe. You will never be safe.
Mandy was one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, trans or genetic. She was beautiful even before she transitioned and afterward she was beyond stunning. She was 5-5 with a willowy build, thick lush hair, an oval face, shapely legs. Hormones gave her a nice set of perky breasts and gradually feminized her facial features even more. Her voice was androgynous, a hint of smoky resonance at the octave where men’s and women’s ranges meet. She cultivated a breathless quality to go with it, and she had always formed words like a girl. I would have given anything to be her. Physically at least.
She came to Boystown as a teen. Knew she was trans all her life. Her family threw her out. She started living full-time femme right away and made a living tricking. She had been a hooker and a dancer in a tranny club for a couple years by the time she started coming to TransGender Alliance functions, which is where I met her. Even though we were a generation apart in age, she liked the way I did my hair and I ended up doing hers … and I have ever since.
We ugly girls think pretty girls have it made, but it’s not true. Mandy’s beauty gave her a doorway to life that wasn’t available to me and she took it. It meant good money and it was mostly easy. And when you’ve lived half your life taking abuse from men for being effeminate, having them finally lust for you seems like a fantasy come true. But once you start down that path, it’s very hard to go anywhere else.
Mandy wasn’t especially bright, but after a couple years in the sex trade she could see the limits of her career. By then she was starting to think of herself as a woman. She didn’t want to be a prostitute any more. When I met her she was trying to get off the streets. She did waitressing and worked retail. The money was awful, but she got by. She got help from boyfriends and some in the community said she still did tricks, but for bigger bucks for an escort service. She got her gender reassignment surgery a year ago.
We weren’t best friends. We were too different for that. But I was her hairdresser and a sort of older sister for her, and I thought she was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, so we had a friendship. A warm one.
For the past year or so she mentioned a special guy she was seeing. Handsome, rich, great in bed. Had her thinking about happy ever-afters.
Apparently Mr. Wonderful had some issues.
My thoughts are short-circuited by Cecelia’s loud voice. Two other girls have joined us. She’s holding court.
“I’m guessing she was with a john,” says Cecilia. “She never bothered to work on a career . . .” Cecilia goes on a monologue about the younger generation of transgenders, preoccupied with sex, drugs and rock and roll. She can be the transwoman incarnation of a right wing talk-radio host–an opinion on everything, untiringly judgmental, malformed physically and emotionally, yet somehow charismatic for those who lack self esteem or any trace of intelligence.
Cecilia’s jabber oozes off to the corners of my consciousness, then slips into the ether. Mandy’s image fills my mind. I always think of her as smiling and laughing. She had an infectious laugh. She livened up every room she ever entered.
She had a good heart, too. With her looks, she could have been arrogant, but I never heard her say anything nasty about anyone.
“You’re full of shit about Mandy,” I blurt out. The others are stunned at my brazen challenge to Cecelia’s authority. “She had a day job. She quit tricking a long time ago.”
I stare into Cecelia’s eyes. “Mandy was my friend. She never mentioned you.”
I move away from the group and find a seat at an empty table. I am beginning the mourning process. This has hit me hard. I need to find a private place to think. And maybe weep.