Antonia D'orsay

Who is your hero/ine?

Filed By Antonia D'orsay | March 06, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment

We all have people we look up to (sometimes it's even ourselves). For this Saturday post, a bit of the unusual from me, meant to do what I usually strive to do -- make you do some thinking.

I'd like to continue my process of learning from you, each of you, and so I'd like to know who your heroes are -- who is it that inspires you, makes you want to be a better person or a more perfect you.

If you have more than one, that's fine, but let's stick with your top three if you have that many. Real or fictional, living or dead, it doesn't matter.

I'm asking because I'd like to research the ones I don't know so that maybe I can find a few more through you -- and possibly so that you can do the same with those of others whom you are unfamiliar with.

My three are:

  • Friday, the titular character of a Robert Heinlein novel about a very special kind of courier. In the field of writing, there's a concept that RAH was pretty much dedicated to following known as the Competent Man. In this novel, he was obviously experimenting with the idea of the competent woman, something he continued to explore in his later works. He also explored concepts of identity, liminality, and being something that doesn't belong. She made her own way, even when she was somewhat uncertain of the end result. She's one of my top folks.
  • Trinity, from the Matrix films. As for why, well, I wrote a bit about that elsewhere.
  • Real life heroes are much harder for me, as I have so many of them, but the one that undoubtedly shadows over all of them is my mother. She's the grounding in feminism, in politics, in law, in living, in budgeting so I can live on the few coins I do, in all the things I do today. I am my mother's daughter, and I've been my mother's son. It's inescapable.

How about you?

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | March 6, 2010 1:27 PM

Real Person: Toni Mayes from Houston. She was a local girl who used to be a local boy. I heard her story on talk radio one night in the very early 70s. That's when I found out that there were others like me and that there were options.
Also Wendy Carlos for much the same reasons though she embodies two of my greatest passions. I admire just about any musician and how I would love to be a successful inventor! Gotta admire someone who overcame adversity to become successful at two things which even individually surpass the ability of the vast majority of people. Science and music and I can only do one.
As for a fictional hero? Hmmm....No way I could name just one or even just a few. It may be cliche' but right now, I'd say the fictional person who I would currently consider a hero would be Albus Dumbledore. A very flawed person who overcame weakness and regret to become a great educator and leader.

Heroes: 1. Ryan White, Ryan Wayne White (December 6, 1971 – April 8, 1990) 2. Elton John 3. Nelson Mandela

A little known French playwright named Jean Giraudoux, who blossomed late in life to find his true calling. He'd been a government bureaucrat for decades, with a long-quelled desire to write for the theatre. Then, at an age when most people are thinking of retirement, he completely re-imagined himself and gave us such incredible works as ONDINE, THE APOLLO OF BELLAC, and his classic THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT... all during the German occupation of Paris during WW2. I consider him a hero and a mentor because he's such an example of the things one can achieve, even late in life, if one is determined enough to do it.

Rick Sours | March 6, 2010 3:03 PM

My heroine would be my maternal Grandmother. She always believed in me and accepted me just as I
was. She taught me never to be ashamed of where I came from; it not where one began life's journey
but the distance you have traveled. She taught me that if someone says you can not do something
if you really want to do it you can; the difficulty is not in the doing but in the figuring out how.

Collett Danielson Cockrell | December 14, 2010 6:30 PM

this is going to sound totally weird, Your name has come up in multiple searches for my transgendered Aunt. Born Ricky Mayes in the Houston area, Houston Chronicle did a story in late 70's "what ever happened to Ricky Mayes" At that time, she changed her name to Rochelle, not sure if she kept the last name Mayes. I am hoping that maybe in a time where there were so few curagious individuals like yourself and Phyllis Frye that maybe it was a small enough circle that you are familiar with her and can get me on the right track to find her. It was because of her I had the courage to come out as a Lesbian at 45 I think it is time I was able to thank her

diddlygrl | March 6, 2010 5:21 PM

For me, the Goddess. She has helped to keep me from doing some mighty stupid things.

I have so many heros and heroines from fiction because I used to and somewhat still am an avid reader. Elisabeth Moons Paksenarion comes to mind, then David Drakes Adele Mundy. Of course there is Willow, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Real life is hard, I don't know that many people but the one I admire most is David "Iolo" Watson, crossbow maker extradinaire and one of the finest people I know.

Federico García Lorca(1899-1936):

"Lorca was gay.he is internationally recognized as Spain's most prominent lyric poet and dramatist of the twentieth century.

Lorca's account of gypsies persecuted by the sinister Guardia Civil the
oppression of blacks in Harlem
and the sexual repression of Andalusian women
portray marginalized figures who, like the (homosexual), are persecuted by
a dominant morality hostile to the open expression of difference.

It is thought that García Lorca was shot and killed by Nationalist militia on 19 August 1936. The writer Ian Gibson in his
book The Assassination of Garcia Lorca states that he was shot with three others, at a place known as the Fuente Grande, or Fountain of Tears
in Arabic, which is on the road between Viznar and Alfacar.

Significant controversy remains about the motives and details of his death. Personal, non-political motives have also been suggested. García Lorca's biographer, Stainton, states that his killers made remarks about his sexual orientation,
suggesting that it played a role in his death.

Lorca condemned capitalist society
and everything that it entails - its indifference to suffering, the alienation, poverty
and racism. He particularly despised the way that capitalism materially corrupts everything that is precious and human."


It's nearly impossible to reply with that page hijack thing.

Hero? All my heroes had clay feet. As would anyone (myself included) if put in that category.

People who have made a lasting impression:

1. Patrick Califia. I encountered his writing around 1990, a kind of question-everything approach which I didn't always agree with, but pushed me to challenge everything I ever thought about sex, gender and feminism at its foundation, and to see how even the most equally-balanced relationship utilizes power exchange. Drifted from his writing only to rediscover him during my early transition, upon finding out that he had also transitioned.

2. Umberto Eco. Between fiction and essays, he teaches a million ways to identify the man behind the curtain.

3. Alan Moore for inspiring me to write (though I will never reach that height).

Hon. Mention: Victoria 1.0, a commercial mesh introduced in 1999 that coaxed me to abandon illustration in favour of digital art, leading to a job in graphic design via some of the weirdest paths imaginable.

1. Zoe Heriot (fictional). Dr Who Companion vintage 1968. A genius at Pure Mathematics. Definitely a role model, as in 1968, women were expected to be wives and mothers, nurses not doctors, beauticians not astronauts. I didn't have to choose between being a girl, and being a geek after all.

2. The Bodhisattva Kuan Yin.

Finally in desperation he used his hands. Miao Shan, realising the fate the executioner would meet at her father's hand should she fail to let herself die, forgave the executioner for attempting to kill her. It is said that she voluntarily took on the massive karmic guilt the executioner generated for killing her, thus leaving him guiltless. It is because of this that she descended into the Hell-like realms. While there she witnessed firsthand the suffering and horrors beings there must endure and was overwhelmed with grief. Filled with compassion, she released all the good karma she had accumulated through her many lifetimes, thus freeing many suffering souls back into Heaven and Earth. In the process that Hell-like realm became a paradise. It is said that Yanluo, King of Hell, sent her back to Earth to prevent the utter destruction of his realm....

The 4 vows of the Bodhisattva:
There's too many sins not to commit some - but I'll try not to anyway.
There's too many people to help them all - but I'll try to help them anyway.
There's too many virtues to attain them all - but I'll try to attain them anyway.
Perfection is impossible - But I'll try to perfect everything anyway.

3. Elizabeth Andrew Jackson Libby-Long. For obvious reasons.

Some time between the events of Methuselah's Children and Time Enough for Love, Libby dies. Long places Libby's body in orbit around the last planet they pioneer, intending to return and take it back to Earth for disposal in the Ozark Mountains, where Libby grew up. When Long returns for the body, however, it is not there. This information is revealed by Long in conversations during the first half of Time Enough for Love.

Between the first and second half of the book, Long experiments with time-travel, and one of his first test runs was to retrieve the coffin from a point in the past, thus explaining its disappearance. However, rather than dispose of the body, Long and his family decide to resurrect Libby, extracting his memory and personality and injecting it into a host body. However, during the resurrection process, they discover that Libby's chromosomes are both male and female, and they give him the choice of what gender he wished to be. He chooses female, and becomes "Elizabeth Andrew Jackson Libby Long.", or Libby for short.

I came this close to losing it when I read that. Being unable to keep up the "boy act" for a moment longer. Instead, I investigated cryonics. I'd still like to have a fully functional female body you see. To have babies. I want it all, the career, the family, the husband.... it will just be a little more difficult for me than most. And will take a little longer. When biological science has advanced enough to reconstruct a body and mind from a freezer-burnt remnant, a matter of regularising the biological sex is a doddle.

Heinlein definitely knew someone who was trans or intersexed. Someone he was close to.

Larry Kramer - a crotchety rabblerouser with a gift for words who used his ability to create social change to benefit our community

The one that comes most readily to mind right now is Data, of Star Trek: TNG. He was very much my hero growing up, and now it's easy to see why. The analogies between a trans man and the android who would be human are inescapable.

Rusty Miller, my surrogate mother. She's brilliant--the smartest person I've ever known. She knew I was gay decades before I did.

Alexander the Great

the Hardy Boys

Sandra Louise Sandra Louise | March 7, 2010 8:59 AM

Mine are:

Christine Jorgensen, who blew the doors off her closet when she became the first well known transsexual of modern times. She claimed for the entirety of her life that transsexuality wasn't a perversion, but a true medical condition. She gave me hope that, perhaps, I wasn't a pervert for thinking that being flat where I felt I should be round and having outdoor plumbing instead of indoor was something that could be fixed.

Wendy Carlos, for pioneering modern electronic music and producing the best selling classical album of all time "Switched On Bach". She then submerged for several years and re-emerged as herself and continued her pioneering career. She inspired me to believe that I didn't have to become a drug addicted, pole dancing, sex worker, to become the female I knew myself to be. I could do more than survive, I could THRIVE!

And to Lyn Conway, who, after designing the architecture of modern computers (including the one you are reading this on) and generating millions of dollars for IBM, was summarily fire by that company for declaring that she would be changing her gender. She spent another DECADE re-inventing herself and hiding her background to rebuild her reputation, but this time as a woman. And after becoming a stellar person once again at another company was outed by a journalist doing research for a story about her.

These women, showed me that maybe my life wasn't a waste. That perhaps there was a way out of the self loathing I felt every day. More to the point that I may have a reason to live.

I owe these pioneers more than I could ever repay, so so I pay it forward through mentoring and advocacy for those still wandering the jungle.


No trans person is a true hero of mine, especially those who transitioned in the 1970s. People tend to put those people on a pedestal without looking at the person they have become today, when it comes to trans issues.

The closest trans people I would consider heroes would be Christine Jorgenson and Jamison Green.

Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Author C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Beethoven and Mozart have all inspired me in ways unique to each of them. But, I cannot elevate any of them to the top.

However, the one person who has inspired me more then anyone else has to be Jesus. No explanation needed here.

My Dad... He was an atheist/scholar/chemical engineer. He fell in love with a Catholic girl who was a college drop out. He kept his promise to her and the priest, and raised all five of us kids Catholic, including the private school tuitions - even though it was intellectually repellant to him. He disowned me when I came out at age 19 and cut me off from the entire family. But 10 yrs later? He flew all night to sit in the front row of a theatre on opening night, when a little gay play I had written was being staged. He struggled very hard to get over his homophobia, to learn to re-love me, to make familiar again what had become so foreign to him. I'm in my 50's now, and I'm still struggling to fine tune and incorporate for myself his style; the fierceness and loyalty of his love, his graciousness and ability to bend, his strength in the face of tragedy and loss. And I still wish I could throw a football as good as he did :)

Bayard Rustin.
Malachi Mor who was a High King of Ireland and who decided rather than fight a war against another man over the Kingship he stepped aside and became the number one advisor to the first High King to unite all of Ireland against a common enemy. Several of his direct descendants became High Kings also.
Amergin is a mythical Draoi Priest of one of the peoples who settled Ireland and was a master poet who was able to speak things into being. His words could change the world.

Hypatia...the last librarian of the Library of Alexandria and oft noted as the most intelligent person that ever lived. Cyril, the christian bigot, imported a mob (he had to because in Alexandria she was beloved) to kill her by stripping her naked and hacking her to death with clam shells, they then proceeded to the third and final burning of the Library itself. Her death and the third burning are regarded by many scholars as the death of knowledge in the Western World, the beginning of the christian induced Dark Ages that lasted until the dawn of the Renaissance.

Boudicca...leader of the Icenians of Briton who nearly defeated the Roman Empire against all odds. If you do not know her story, you should.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton...The feminist leader who called the Seneca Falls meeting that started American feminism, had the courage to insist that suffrage was addressed when everyone else thought that was going to far, wrote every single significant speech used by her dear friend Susan B. Anthony and stayed so far ahead of the curve on women's rights even the movement stepped away from her two years before her death. What modern women owe her is beyond measure and yet she is largely forgotten.

Fictional? I find myself surprised that I share Dyss's choice of RAH's Friday from the novel of the same name.

Hypatia was number 4 on my list.

Re Boudicca: a bit too psycho for my liking. PTSD big-time.

IMHO a better example is Manthatisi of the Ba-tlokwa in current South Africa.

Helen Keller, who inspires me to overcome whatever obstacles confront me.

Jesus Christ, who taught me to be a good person, to love and accept others as they are, and of course, forgiveness.

My father, who always believed in me and taught me not to impose limits on my dreams.

Grace O'Malley, the so called Pirate Queen

Lucia Saornil, one of the leading Mujeres Libres, she went further than her compañeras in rejecting the ideal of female domesticity that permeated anarchist circles, arguing that "before you can reform society, you had better reform your homes" and that "the concept of mother is absorbing that of woman, the function is annihilating the individual." (Lesbian)

Ma Kiley, famous(in telegraphy circles) woman telegrapher.

Janet Flanner, journalist, and I had the pleasure of meeting her on multiple occasions when I was a young girl.(Lesbian)

My mentor and Profesora, Rebeca, who never used her patrynomic when she could avoid it as a feminist statement.(Lesbian)

Constance Markiewicz, first woman elected to the British Parliament(but never took her seat, she was in gaol) and Irish Revolutionary. When her death sentence was commuted to life inprisonment in 1916 for the Easter Rising(she was later released) she remarked ".... I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me."

Natalie Clifford Barney(with reservations) Out and proud by 1900, notoriously so..."We know all their gods; they ignore ours. What they call our sins are our gods, and what they call their gods, we name otherwise.”(Lesbian)

Emma Goldman, Anarchist, bisexual, author, lecturer,

Anthony in Nashville | March 8, 2010 9:54 AM

James Baldwin, Sylvester, Bayard Rustin, Harvey Milk and Barbara Smith come to mind.

Ooh, Sylvester, I love me some Sylvester. An American artist heroine if there ever was one.

1) Russian Dancer Maya Plisetskaya. An incredible woman who fought repression both governmental and artistic tooth and nail. She was wholly her own passionate woman (whose father was killed during Stalinist purges and her mother was imprisoned in Siberia) and became one of the most remarkable performers and artists.

2) Chechen activist/human rights reporter Natalia Estimirova who gave her own life trying to highlight the abuses her people were experiencing from both sides of a horrific conflict. The more I read about her the more respect I have.

3) In terms of trans people, I have a lot of respect for Joanna Clark who, in the 70s, fought and won the right for trans people to change their birth certificates. She later headed up the world's largest AIDS info database and had a profound impact on the exchange of AIDS information and, ultimately, saving lives. She demonstrates the impact one person can have in this world.

4) Miss Major, who has spent decades fighting racism, homophobia and transphobia. A tough cookie we should all be proud of and someone who needs to be there for the signing of any civil rights bill involving LGBT people.

5) Another trans person would be FTM Steve Dain. A local teacher who lost his job transitioning (like me) and a huge, gutsy icon during an otherwise dark period in the trans world. A man who gave back a lot and didn't take crap from anyone. He is missed.