The two parts of this month’s cover story, “The Mysterious Rose of Freedom” and “Becoming Lisa,” came together by coincidence. The two pieces were pitched to me within days of each other, so it made sense to run them together.
The danger in doing so is the possibility some readers will consider this an attempt to provide an overview of Portland’s transgender community, or of transgenderism in general. That is not our intent. The individual subjects of both pieces are exactly that: individuals. They are no more representative of the transgender population than I represent all hetero males.
I bring this up in light of the all-too-widespread misperception that transgender people are mentally ill or sex criminals. Joe Miller, the subject of “The Mysterious Rose of Freedom,” does suffer from mental illness and has served time for a sex offense he committed over two decades ago. But again, he is just who he is — nothing more (not representative of transgender people) and certainly nothing less.
As contributing writer Kate Hassett reports in the introduction to her interview, Miller has been repeatedly harassed and attacked due to his identity and his placement on Portland’s sex-offender registry. This is not the place to debate the ethics of the registry, but I will say this: Miller committed a crime and did the time (a decade in prison). He has paid his debt to society and committed no further offense of that nature. He is rightly free and deserves the same respect all citizens enjoy in our community — if not more.
After reading the interview, contemplate the bravery it takes to lead Miller’s life. Unlike Lisa, he does not have the luxury to express his feminine identity in the privacy of a home. He does so on our streets everyday, at the mercy of the most intolerant and ignorant among us. He cannot run, or even walk, away from his abusers. Yet he perseveres, proudly, and with good humor.
I, for one, admire him. You go, girl!
With this issue, we say goodbye to two longtime members of the Bollard team.
Dump hunter Patrick Banks has retired. We thank Patrick for writing what has become one of our most popular regular features, That’s My Dump!. The series is continuing under the authorship of fellow dump hunter Cotton Estes. Tips sent to Patrick’s e-mail have been forwarded to Cotton, and she welcomes your suggestions, as well. We welcome her aboard.
We also say goodbye to Meghan Busby, our multi-talented Girl Friday. As I wrote in the introduction to our first print issue, back in the summer of ’07, The Bollard would not have existed without Meg’s faith and support. She supported the publication from its genesis four years ago, when The Bollard was little more than yours truly, sitting on an exercise ball in front of a computer in our spare bedroom.
The Bollard has grown considerably since then, from a Web site generating a few hundred hits per day to a monthly magazine (and Web site) read by tens of thousands from Biddeford to Bath and beyond. We appreciate the crucial role she played in making The Bollard what it is today.
Thank you, Meg. And goodbye.