When I was 12, I spent a week with my uncles in Providence (it was the week that Charles and Diana were married). During that week, my uncles tried, I think, to shock Auntie and me (we were all of 12 and 8 at the time) by parading the most out, loud, and outrageous members of their LGBTQ friend group they could find through the house.
One of those characters was a flamboyant, exuberant transgendered woman who loved me the moment she saw me. The feeling was mutual. She scooped me up and loved me in a way that my lonely, rejected 12-year-old self was dying to be loved. Of all the people who visited that week, SHE came back for a second visit (so she could see me again, she said), and I remember trying to absorb all of the radiance and love she gave me.
Not long after that summer – I don’t remember exactly when, but it was that same year – she was murdered when someone tried to pick her up and discovered she wasn’t what he thought she was. I was – and still kind of am – devastated.