Lizzy Waite’s surrogate transgender mom remembers

lizzy waite

lizzy waite

A distraught reader traumatized by Trump trolls celebrating the suicide of Lizzy Waite asked us to properly remember this South Dakota Transgender woman. Lizzy Waite took her life November 8th and had scheduled her suicide note to appear on Facebook afterward so her cat could be taken care of. But when Trump supporters learned of her death they did all the could to amplify the dysphoria we all felt after that election, undoubtedly hoping more would of us would kill ourselves.

The problem was that family members couldn’t moderate the comments due to the Facebook password policy.  This resulted in the haters temporarily invading and insulting our sister in her death adding exponentially to our feelings of dread.  Fortunately, control was eventually regained by family but much damage had already been done.

The Daily Beast and US Uncut both documented Trump supporters responses, but this post isn’t about those hateful comments. Regardless of who you are or how morally justified your hate is, the result is the same, hate eats you from inside out. We must continue to rise above hate as we have always done and continue to win hearts.

Love Trump’s Hate

Long time friend and South Dakota trans advocate Tamara Jeanne  described her relation with Lizzy Waite as being a surrogate mother. This is understandable since when we transition, the day that we make that faithful decision and act on it, it is a life-giving moment. Tamera, who was there for Lizzy on her birthday posted this to Facebook on November 29th.

LizzyElizabeth Waite, was a more than a friend of mine, she was one of my surrogate children. I first met her several years ago when she was referred to me for getting help to find the resources she needed to start her transition. I helped connect her with a therapist and endocrinologist she needed. And I helped guide her through the process for her legal name change. During this time I got to know Lizzy chatting on Facebook, talking on the phone, occasionally meeting her in person and meeting with her wife and son over lunch a few times.

Lizzy lived in the state capital Pierre, South Dakota where she worked at a local Walgreens. She transitioned on the job there. She was constantly being bombarded with transphobic slurs from customers. She did her best to stay strong, but the constant barrage of hate gradually began to take its toll on her and her marriage and she separated from her wife. She also quit get job in an effort to get away from the hate. But in a small town like Pierre, SD there little other work available where a person can find as a transwoman that doesn’t also place you in the transphobes path. As far as I know, there are not any other out trans people living in Pierre and that lack of a local community for support, made life that much more difficult for her. I have no idea as to the details of the events and what all happened in the last few days and weeks that led up to Lizzy taking her life. Certainly, from her note, the outcome of presidential election was one of the factors that weighed heavy on her in her final days. Another likely factor, was that on that fateful Tuesday, was the announcement, with much fanfare, at the state capitol of a petition drive for an initiated measure to place the transgender student restroom issue on the 2018 mid-term ballot. That may have been the final straw for Lizzy. Her loss leaves a big hole in lives of her family, friends and myself. She is sorely missed. I had hoped to be able to drive out to Pierre to attend her funeral, but car trouble and illness prevented me from doing so.

Helping trans people start their transitions, is something that I have been doing for countless transgender people over the past 8 years. Since I will never be able to have children of my own. In a way, I see these people as my surrogate children and each and everyone of them is precious to me. The trans community in South Dakota is relatively small and wide spread. A recent study by the Williams Institute, estimated it to be just over 2000. Providing support for such a widely scattered community is not easy, especially with very limited resources. We have to find ways to do better. We can not afford to loose one more “Lizzy“.

Farwell, Elizabeth, my friend, my sister and my daughter. I pray that you have at long last found the peace and solace, that you were unable to in this life. – TJ



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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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