Last week was not a good one, for several reasons. It was my birthday, for one. However, the day before that, on the night of September 12, I received word that Jennifer Jensen died that morning.
I don’t know if Jenny (JJ) was out to her family, so out of respect for her privacy, I must keep certain personal details vague.
I met JJ at my first Renaissance meeting/Angela’s Laptop Lounge in December 2008. I was a mess- no makeup, rumpled outfit, bad shoes, and a cheap Halloween wig. Despite my trollish appearance, Jenny was warm and welcoming, as were most of the people that night.
After the Renaissance meeting, everyone went over to Shangri-La for Angela’s Laptop Lounge, the twice monthly transgender inclusive party. At dinner, I sat next to JJ, and we talked.
I don’t remember what we talked about, but she remembered me the next month and we talked some more. I told her that I’d gotten a room at Motel 6 so I could change into/out of Sophie stuff, and she replied she did the same. It made sense that we pool our resources, so for over a year, we split the cost of a motel room- usually the Motel 6. After a month or two, we started having lunch before changing at a restaurant near the motel. Jen Lehman soon joined us, and three of us became a small group. For me, it was lunch, go get my makeup done by Amanda Richards, then meet them at the Renaissance meeting.
Those first months of going out were frightening, but JJ was a calming influence. She was that way for everyone. I discovered this was due to her high stress occupation during which she had to keep a cool head- a career she enjoyed since the 1970s until her recent retirement.
Jenny wasn’t “out” to her work colleagues (and again, possibly not to family), so secrecy was a must. During our lunches we would ponder ways to keep our secrets hidden. Eventually, I came out to my Wife, then to the world, and Jenny was so supportive.
After she retired, Jenny moved back to her home state, so I rarely saw her except at the Keystone Conference. There she volunteered her time and expertise to the conference and her presence there will be sorely missed. JJ helped run the Debutante program for new attendees in addition to originating and continuing to run the popular Friday night Bingo Spectacular. She and Amanda Richards would wear outlandish costumes and give away great prizes to winners and those who answered transgender trivia.
JJ was an incredible person. She gave of herself without thought of reward or seeking laurels. She helped because she could, and because she wanted to. She was an amazing person and an amazing friend.
May the four winds blow you safely home, Jenny. I will miss you and try to live up to your example.
Category: Transgender Body & Soul