Last Saturday, my friend and metamour Zoey Frandsen (Twitter, Facebook) passed away unexpectedly at the age of 32. Zoey was a polyamorous, pansexual trans woman. There is now an obituary which deadnames her, treating her chosen, legal name as if it was some kind of nickname. There is a picture of her before she transitioned, with that same sad stare so many of us trans people have before we find our true selves. I don’t know that person, I never met them, and I know for a fact that is not how Zoey would want to have been remembered.
I understand the family is in a difficult position - like so many of us, Zoey didn’t feel she could open up to her more conservative, traditional family about her gender identity, her dysphoria, or the joy she felt living as the gender she truly felt was hers. She had even started on that process - opening up a dialog with her mother, considering maybe even meeting with her so they could start to get to know each other again. Of course, with COVID such travel wasn’t really possible, and nobody expects to be struck down suddenly at the age of 32. So many of us don’t plan for the proper legal protections, to make sure our unmarried partners have the ability to make decisions after our death.
In Caitlin Doughty’s ‘Protecting Trans Bodies in Death’ Caitlin discusses some of the perils of being a trans person in death - the foremost among them being deadnamed and misgendered after the point which you have no power to defend yourself.
Having spoken to Zoey’s family, I know they don’t understand much if anything about being transgender. That isn’t surprising - the number that gets thrown around pretty frequently is that 80% of Americans don’t think they know someone who is transgender. Zoey’s family never got to build a relationship with their daughter, and so they are trying to mourn the son they thought they knew.
Since we don’t have the power to make sure Zoey is remembered how she would want to be in any legal sense, I’ve decided to write this to make sure that if someday, somewhere, someone Google’s her name, they get the chance to know a little bit about the person Zoey wanted to be remembered as, and not the identity she fought so hard to part with.
Zoey was funny. Zoey struggled with mental illness. Zoey loved video games, and bad jokes, and insisted that birds weren’t real. Zoey had a dorky laugh. Zoey was a welder. Her favorite threat was that she was going to build a locker just so she could shove us nerds into it. Zoey was a nerd. I don’t know how many Warhammer minis she painted, but it was a bunch. Zoey was polyamorous. She had a number of loving, caring partners that she was in comitted relationships with. Zoey had a powerful butt - we joked it could turn coal into diamonds. Zoey had an amazing laugh, and a great smile. Zoey was so happy when she got her name legally changed.
All of these things were true of Zoey. I don’t know that other person that the obituary talks about (and I implore you to not try to find it if you don’t know her deadname). The person I knew was a woman full of life, and joy at being able to live as her true gender. And so that is how I choose to remember her. I’d ask that you remember her that way too.
Zoey & Morgan:
Zoey & Erika
Zoey & Kat
Zoey & Kat with Zoey being very Zoey
Terra, Zoey, Morgan, & Sam:
Zoey & Morgan Laughing:
Zoey & a Porg & Erika