When I first became an advocate for transsexual rights in 2007, Leona Lo was the one person I really looked up too. She was a lone, strong and distinct voice amongst elitist transgender groups bent on exploiting transgender issues for popularity and internal political mileage, similar to the ones we have here in Malaysia.
She was sincere and true to her wishes to share her story to highlight the plight of transwomen in South East Asia, and yet kept a reasonably low profile for all her exploits. She had a heart for the population.
Besides Saas Rogando Sasot, she was one of the best advocates in the Far East. Many times she would stand up where it was impossible for others. She opened her life so that others may be able to open theirs with less troubles.
Following her blogs, first Wo-manly and then Leona’s Blog, gave me a spark of the daily doses of possibilities in my journey as a transsexual woman. Her views on the need to differentiate cross-dressers with transsexual women, her thoughts on life and her surroundings, her incredible marathon journeys, and many other stories, served as inspiration for many like me.
I related to her in so many ways, and the first time I met her at Annexe Gallery, Central Market, KL – pure magic. There in front of me, was a true woman, without the overly-soft behaviour that is often the habit of the community, and none of the vanity botox and breast enhancements.
A transsexual woman with so much aura, she did not need to compensate it by under-dressing to exert sexiness like most transgender women do. And most distinctively in the Ah Qua Show (a stage act based on her autobiography), she performed her art without drag, while many transsexual women and gay men seem to need over-the-top make up and dressing for any performances.
A few will try begging to differ, however the fact remains; she is truly remarkable, a woman that is so far ahead of the transsexual and transgender community, trying to pull them back into society to experience the world, but for their stubbornness bred from elitism and herd mentality.
She is a natural woman. An icon of what a transsexual woman can be and can accomplish. One that has earned some place in Singaporean society, amidst the current crazy intolerance and ignorance of Singaporeans. She is my symbol. She is my heart.
Breaking her own principle, she helped me financially. She emailed me many times in my grief to never let myself fall. She soothed me in her conversations and made me feel less like a depressed retard and more of a decent human, and from that moment I realize, I am never alone. With her, I believe I can be much better than what my doubts limit me.
Later on, in a message to me in LinkedIn, she said she would like to end all future correspondences. It broke me. I cannot imagine how I feel losing her. Someone who slams passion down my throat, empowering my lungs to breathe in life.
But somehow, I knew the day was coming. Because as an advocate for a population that is too negative, hurt and buried in victim mentality, it somehow is a lost cause with little change to see for the future. Her last few blog posts before she deleted her blog indicated an intention for silence. Perhaps, I could understand.
This week, I finally learn to accept that she is gone, god knows for how long or will she be back. With that, like she told me a few years ago, it is time for us to share our own stories. I will share mine, especially to the general public, for them to see that we are much more than what society think we are. Leona Lo, wherever you are, you are one of the most beautiful women in my life. Take care.