At the very beginning of my transition--just as I was about to start living full-time as a woman--I met Kate Bornstein, albeit briefly.
I was working on a media project at the LGBT Community Center in New York. At the time, I was just learning about LGBT culture and some of its luminaries.
Meeting her was like seeing a supernova just as you've risen beyond the cloud cover. All right, I can't tell you exactly what that's like, as I've risen beyond the clouds but have never seen such a bright celestial object.
However, Kate not only lit up the room; she filled the people in it--including me--with light. In a way, she's what I imagine Ellen DeGeneres would be if she were a trans woman--only better. Like Ellen, she is literate and funny but uses neither of those traits to demean or bully others. What makes Kate even better, though, is that she is one of the few--perhaps the only--person I've ever met who can be tender, corny and ironic all at the same time.
I realized, then, that if she could keep such a perspective after making her transition, and having her surgery, in an environment even less hospitable than what I imagined I would face, I would be all right. Things wouldn't be easy, I knew. But somehow, meeting Kate helped me to realize I would, or at least could, make it.
And now I hope she makes it through her cancer. The doctors say she can, but she'll, of course, need treatment.
You can donate through the site her friend Laura Vogel has set up.