Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

Lucille Marie Hamilton died a week or so ago. She was only 20. Her obituary in the local paper set out the usual information common to these notices: her place of employment, her relatives, the church she attended. The name of her father was omitted, which strongly suggests an estrangement.

What the obituary also did not disclose was that Lucie-that's what her Facebook friends called her- was a transgendered man living as a woman here in Little Rock. The obituary did not reveal that she died after attending a "voodoo cleansing ritual" in Gloucester Township, New Jersey. Which might explain the estranged father. Or it may not.

As if this story were not unusual enough as it is, the initial comment from the police was to the effect that her death was not considered suspicious. Let's see, transvestite Arkansan dies in a suburb of Philadelphia after a voodoo ritual. Ok, maybe that's not in and of itself to render the circumstances of her death "suspicious" in the official parlance of the cops. But it is damned unusual to say the least. For any of a number of reasons.

The stories that I have read from the media up there yield a few more bits of information than what was unearthed by the paper here. Her mother told a TV station up there that Lucie was interested in different religions and that she saved up 1500 bucks for the trip. The story is that about 6 other people took part in the ritual at the home of a voodoo priest.

And you think your neighbors are strange.

Evidently, Lucie went to sleep afterwards and never woke up. Her body was shipped to the crime lab for toxicology tests. One story said that this tragedy shows that there needs to be tighter regulation of voodoo priests. No kidding. Which leads me to wonder just how a big a problem this sort of thing is in New Jersey. You don't hear calls for the tighter regulation of Presbyterian ministers. But then again, you don't hear of many folks dropping dead after going to a Presbyterian service. I didn't the last time I visited the Calvinists.

I don't know much about transgendered folks. I knew in passing a psychiatrist who examined guys who wanted to change their sex through surgical means. I guess the thought was that they didn't want to do the surgery on anybody that was way depressed or floridly psychotic. About all she told me was that transgendereds were "extremely complicated."

I can believe that.

I don't know what Lucie's sexual orientation was. A person's sex life might not be as simple as you think. We in the straight world ought to know that. Right, Mrs. Sanford? Anyway. and for example, the comedian Eddie Izzard performs in drag all of the time, although he seems to be butching it up a little more on his website nowadays. Izzard's a genius. And he likes girls. Go figure.

But I would have to think that being a transgendered person would be a complicated and sad way to run a life. I know that 20 is too young to die. And I can't think of a less dignified and ridiculous way to spend your last night on this planet. Something caused that kid to go looking for something more.

And she never came back.

You can find her obituary on the link. Play the video if you want to see her transformation from little boy to a young woman. It is interesting to say the least.

A reliable source close to the situation sent me a message this morning saying that the authorities in New Jersey are now investigating the case as a homicide. I'm not surprised. 20 year olds don't die from natural causes. In any event, you don't hear many stories like this coming out of anywhere, much less Little Rock.

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