Transgender Warrior: The story of Birmingham’s Jody Suzanne Ford

Being Transsexual or transgender has always been dangerous.  The police and courts have always had a tendency to treat us with extreme prejudice when we are brought before them as criminal defendants.  conversely they have bent over backwards to assure no one who assaults or murders us goes to prison.

It has only been through the efforts of TS/TG activists over the last 20 years that things have started to change and protections are starting to be extended to TS/TG people.

Nonetheless every year there are too many names appearing on the Day of Remembrance Lists and far too often the victims are also  people of color.  Further most but not all are TS/TG women who are misgendered by the press even in death.

From WELD Birmingham, Alabama:

Aug. 02, 2012

Lou Reed made it seem easy. His 1972 “Walk on the Wild Side” pulled gender conversion out of the closet, on to the open road:

Holly came from Miami, Fla.,

Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A.,

Plucked her eyebrows on the way,

Shaved her legs and then he was a she.

Because Holly was a glam-rock myth, Reed didn’t cover the reality of sex change. Holly went from Miami to New York. In places like Birmingham, going from a he to a she meant more than shaving legs.

Not long after Reed’s song hit Number 16 on the Billboard charts, the Birmingham Post-Herald profiled Sidney McFerrin Ford’s transition to Jody Suzanne Ford. In 1977, local papers covered Ford’s death from a close-range bullet to the chest.

Details about Ford’s life are sketchy. My own memory is like that of many Birmingham residents. I got my first “big girl” haircut at Ford’s popular Five Points South salon, Ms. Sid’s Coiffures. I remember her as media sensation, not as actual person.

Mostly, I remember my mother’s nine words on the subject: “Don’t stare, it’s not polite” and “Ms. Sid looked good.” Indeed she did, as existing photographs of her show.

Salon patrons describe Ford as kind – and as a character. At 6’4” and well over 200 pounds, she commanded the rooms she walked into.

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