Note to Journalists covering transsexual/transgender stories. People who came out in the 1950s and 1960 maybe even stretching it into the 1970s might legitimately be described as pioneers. Someone who came out in the 1990s isn’t a pioneer. Time to find a different laudatory terms for them.
Having read Matt’s writing adjectives and phrases like down to earth come to mind along with earnest.
Colorado-based transgender journalist Matt Kailey passed away over the weekend, but his influence is remembered by those he worked with.
BY Jacob Anderson-Minshall
May 21 2014
Trans author and activist Matt Kailey passed away this past weekend.
His sister shared these details: “I wanted to let you know that Matt Kailey, my brother, has passed away. He died of heart failure in his sleep Saturday night/early Sunday morning. His untimely and unexpected passing has been a shock. With the help of family and friends, I am currently working on processing this tragedy and making arrangements. I will post more information at a later time. Thank you for being Matt’s friends.”
Matt Kailey and I never met in person. And yet it’s hard to overstate the impact of Matt on my life. Without him, I simply wouldn’t be the man I am today.
Matt’s 2005 memoir, Just Add Hormones: An Insider’s Guide to the Transsexual Experience, was one of the books I reviewed for Bitch magazine, which led me to uncover my own transgender identity. More than that, his experience as a 42-year-old straight woman turned gay trans man provided something of a roadmap for transition and proved that a late-in-life transition was absolutely possible. He gave me the courage to make my own transition at 38.
In the years since then I have often recalled moments from his book that paralleled my later experiences or continued to be my inspiration — like the image of Matt standing naked in front of a mirror and saying to himself, “This is a middle-aged trans man’s body.” I am still amazed by his ability to accept himself as he was, to embrace his trans body and boldly live as a gay man without undergoing bottom surgery.
Matt didn’t just blaze trails as a gay trans man demonstrating how the T fit with the LGB. He wasn’t just a role model for those of us who transitioned late in life. He was also one of the first visible trans journalists, who wrote for one of the oldest LGBT publications in the West, Colorado’s Out Front. His 2007 promotion to managing editor made Matt the highest-ranking trans journalist at a queer publication, a distinction he continues to hold.
After transitioning, I followed Matt’s lead and became a trans journalist myself. I ended up interviewing Matt a number of times including for my nationally syndicated TransNation column and for Gender Blender, the radio show I hosted in Portland, Ore. Over the years, our professional collaborations eventually grew into an online friendship. We wouldn’t connect 24/7, but Matt would always be quick to respond whenever I reached out to him.
Although he was dedicated to his work at Out Front, Matt was never one to rest on his laurels. Instead, he also became an award-winning activist and educator. He represented the trans male community in numerous news articles, television spots and five documentary films. He founded the award-winning blog Tranifesto. He spoke at dozens of conferences and colleges and developed his own training program for employers who needed guidance embracing trans people into the workplace.