This afternoon, I found out that Alexis Arquette passed away yesterday. From hearsay I conclude that her family seems to be exceptionally positive in general but even so (by my own standards anyway) this is a time for mourning and for extending comfort to the family, so I’ll be brief.
Hardly a day goes by in which I don’t see examples of how much more trans-friendly general culture is today vs. five years or so ago, when I came out as a trans girl. A few years ago, for me, the mere act of going out in public involved the same sort of mental bracing as other girls might undergo before jumping into a pool of cold water — and I had it relatively easy. Some of my trans girl friends came out some years before, and their stories made me wince. Ten years ago or so, life as an “out” trans girl was more awkward, more difficult, far more dangerous and socially much less acceptable.
Add to that the extra pressure of being the focus of Hollywood attention, and the level of stress and difficulty go up much more yet.
Alexis braved all of this, by being openly transgender long before it was as relatively easy as it is today. Gender pronouns can be difficult to handle correctly so rather than deciding how best to refer to Alexis, I’ll quote from Wikipedia:
In her late 30s, Arquette transitioned from male to female. Her experiences were documented in the film Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother, which debuted at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.
Coming out at that time and in that context would require much bravery. Also, every publicly known person who comes out openly as transgender is a windbreak for those less willing or able to bear the gale of public animosity toward transgender people. For these reasons, Alexis Arquette had my respect and gratitude.