Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Her Name is Donielle

Her name isn't Thing, or Tranny, or Crossdresser. Her name is Donielle. Donielle Hould. That is her preferred name. We never knew what her full legal name was, nor did it matter.

When I saw that transphobic emails were sent about a transgender Republican delegate, the first person that came to mind was Donielle--the similarities seemed to coincide too much to be another person. I mean, how many transgender women who are passionate about Republican politics get to serve as a delegate to one of the party's conventions?

Donielle's body was discovered July 2, 2011.

She moved to Utah from New York following a job opportunity here. Many people in the transgender community remember her sense of humor and her long silky, curly black hair. Her 4th of July Barbeques and Halloween parties, that she hosted in the trailer park where she lived so that transgender people had a safe place to socialize, were the talk of the community. I don't know how many times I heard, "She threw the best Halloween parties." My wife tells me that she was very driven, and had a strength about her that seemed like nobody could bring her down.

I wish I could say that I knew her, but I only really met her once, in a support group before my surgery. The month was March, 2011. She was incredibly excited about her opportunity to be a Delegate at the Utah Republican Convention in April. She was excited to be taking an active part in politics, something she loved and felt strongly about. At the time, we questioned why she was aligning with the Republican Party, but that was her choice. She had high hopes that she could get elected to office.

Something must have happened at the convention, because she started talking about staying in male mode and at the next three events where we would normally have seen her female persona, she came as male (She frequently felt that her desire to be female was an addiction that she could conquer--few rarely do).

She put her effort over the next month and a half into planning the fourth of July picnic, Sending out a reminder on May 28. We didn't hear from her again until a great sadness rocked the community.

Someone contacted me to get ahold of Deborah Dean, the founder of Engendered Species, a transgender positive group of which she was a member. They told me that someone had taken their own life and their roommate needed Deborah's help. By the time I got in touch with Deborah, she had already been to see the roommate and the body. Donielle had taken her own life with no forewarning or explanation. According to her roommate, Donielle had lost both her job and her girlfriend in the three weeks leading up to her suicide. It must have been a triple whammy coming off of such high expectations only a couple of months before. Sometimes it feels like the universe is out to get us.

As a founder of a social support group for people in transition, I felt survivor's guilt. I felt that I did not do enough to recruit her into the group, where she would have had the chance to vent whatever was on her mind. We, as a community, were at a loss as to why she went from a peak of happiness to suicide. I asked around, trying to find out what may have triggered this reaction and to see if there were any indicators that we could be more observant of in the future. I got the same response from everyone. They didn't see it coming.

Now, I hear that a transgender woman was not welcomed by certain individuals at a convention in 2012, particularly staff members of the Attorney General who was up for reelection. They didn't bother to ask her name, and sent transphobic messages to one another. One of the staff members standing next to her got a photograph of her and sent it to the other staff member, calling her a notorious crossdresser, a tranny, and a thing. That attitude most probably was picked up by that woman that day, whether they said something nasty, outing, or just had a disgusted look on their face.

As far as Donielle was concerned, she was never the same again. Less than two months later, two days before she was supposed to host the 4th of July barbeque, she was gone, dead at her own hands.

Her name is Donielle.


  1. Pardon my correction, her name IS Danielle. She is much happier in a place with no pre-conceived judgements being the woman she has always been without the internal heartache and self loathing battling the demons inside while wearing a cheerful facade. It is the rest of us whom have to deal with today mourning for those whom are no longer with us

    I'm sorry for your loss

    1. Thank you, Lady Withsass. I made the correction and added a link to the article where the injustice has come to light.

      Hugs and Blessings,
      - Sofia

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