Death has not been a welcome subject for discussion in Western society for some time now but the fact is, Mortals, one day you will die (insert creepy laughter) so you may want to make provision for it. Not just by writing a will but also by making arrangements for your funeral, and even your prior medical care, especially if your being trans might be a source of contention.
Years ago I used to work in the central government ministries in London and the best job I had there was liaising with the funeral industry. I also dealt with unborn babies at the same time. Both ends of life in one handy job package. I think it was the best job for two reasons: firstly, the unborn and the dead don't write in to complain about national policy and regulations; and, secondly, because the funeral industry has (inevitably?) a dark sense of humour that comes out in sly ways. I used to enjoy the trade magazines with their special offers ("body bags: buy ten, get one free" - presumably so you can get the whole soccer team to the morgue), and I appreciated the complimentary tickets to the Hearse of the Year Show. (Foreign readers: in Britain, the copycat Horse of the Year Show is a major equestrian event.)
So death is always on my mind... Not really, but I just wanted to point out that (a) we all should make provision for our deaths and what happens later, rather than leaving it to someone else after the event since they may do things they want, not what we want; and (b) funeral directors offer a wide range of services that are normally personalisable - it's a service, after all, and it doesn't get more personal than dying. Discuss your needs with them in good time as you would with any other service industry (the bank, the builder, the nail bar, the hotel...) and shop around in the same way for the best service.
What's this specifically got to do with being trans? Well, if you wish your funeral to be held for you in the gender you've accepted, which isn't the same as the official gender that was put on your birth certificate, then you need to make sure that fascist Uncle Tony or your ultrareligious sister can't force your corpse, name and funeral trappings back to that old gender that you've rejected. You can usually arrange your funeral how you like but you may need to make such wishes known via the relevant authorities and, ideally, appoint a person you trust to make your funeral arrangements.
Rather than going into a lot of detail here, I'd like instead to introduce the excellent Caitlyn Doughty who runs a funeral home in California and whose "Ask a Mortician" vlogs on YouTube are weird, humorous, yet very informative and who is very honest about the funeral industry and mortality. She's also clearly a trans ally (and has great hair). Her recent episode "Protecting Trans Bodies in Death" is recommended viewing for trans people like me who want to ensure we are respected and not misgendered or mistreated by, as she puts it, some "delightful bag of bigotry" at our funeral. Also, information on "living wills" and how the medical profession should treat gender when we are under their care. Thanks, Caitlyn, for your support, honesty and helpful information. Click the link below.
Ask a Mortician: Protecting Trans Bodies in Death
Till next time, Mortals ... if there is a next time (mwah ha ha ha ha ha HAAH!)
Excellent! I'm lucky in that the family know what I want (it's very cheap, thankfully! - but high in effort perhaps... hmm) and are unlikely to object since I've told 'em already. Very necessary subject to broach, though; I trust you are suitably prepared? xxxReplyDelete
I expected you'd be well prepared for the event. Who ever knew a Viking longboat would be cheap? :-DDelete
I am pretty prepared for dealing with things at my death, yes, although I haven't yet specified what kind of funeral I'd like. However, I take the view that once you're dead it doesn't really matter what happens as you're not in a position to notice. For others, the details of their sendoff may be important. But ensuring that we are not misgendered is the main reason for my post.
To quote a line from a much loved book: "DARK IN HERE, ISN'T IT?" :-)ReplyDelete
We don't talk about death much, it's true. But it will come to us all at some point. I did toy with the idea of writing a letter to the kids and the Ever Lovely Mrs J, and leaving it taped inside the cupboard where I keep all my T stuff.
I think I'll be off to watch those YouTube suggestions though.
Hi Lynn, I apologise for the dark post but, hey, all the jollity and fun that Covid-19 has brought to our lives was something that needed to be countered! The adrenalin was killing me!Delete
Do watch Caitlin Doughty's video (and any others of hers that take your fancy, which are amazingly informative and humane). Funeral directors are actually quite normal people on the whole!
Wishing you a very long life ahead but, yes, in the way of these things, your children are likely to be the ones dealing with your effects, and you should explain to them what all that kit in the cupboard is. A letter would work, although I feel that revealing your female side to them when you are all still together is even better. Your call, though.
To come out to one's children or not to come out: that is the question. :-)Delete
BTW, I didn't find the post dark. But maybe that says something about our collective view of life.... and death :-)
Both our two kids are teens - or near as - and perhaps their 20s, when they are away from home is an option. Offspring 1's peer group is fairly diverse and Offspring 2.0 isn't far behind. It's a very different world compared to our schooling.
Parents, man, they're just so cis-het and olllld. ;-D
I must've misunderstood your quote about its being dark in here. The only recollection I have of that phrase is from a Two Ronnies episode where Little Ronnie was in the chair telling a rambling joke, which, now I think about it, is not worth repeating here as life's too short. Oops, back to death again!
I find the younger generation now - the unjustly maligned Millennials - are very good when it comes to diversity.