Today I heard that one of my English teachers from my old school died of cancer. We all knew she had it, it was no secret there, for at least over 5 years. I don’t think anyone ever thought that she would die though. The people who didn’t leave realised obviously, she hadn’t been in since the start of the year, but they all thought she was holding on for her son and her partner.
That was what struck me the most, she had a son. She had a relationship and she had a son, and everyone knew about it and no one hated either of them. But when she was younger she would have been hated and scared and it wouldn’t have been so easy. They would probably have never had their son, because they’re both women. I spent a lot of today thinking about how it would only have been a distant dream for her back then probably, fifty years ago. And things are definitely not perfect in a lot of places in the world for people who aren’t heterosexual, but she saw the change, and enough progress was made for her to have a happy relationship and a child.
He won’t ever remember her, and she never got to spend much time with him, never got to see him grow up, but she got to be a family, and have a child. It makes me want to drive forward more change so that everyone gets that same opportunity.
It makes me fucking sick though to see everyone on facebook and twitter talking about how much of an inspirational teacher she was. They were the same people who bitched about her and pissed around in the lessons, and thought she was useless, but now she’s dead they all seem to love her. Being nice to her wasn’t going to cure her cancer, but it’s so wrong to suddenly change your opinion just because they’re gone and it’s the done thing. I won’t sugar coat it, I thought she was pretty useless at her job, teaching us the wrong stuff, which she should have really known because we could work it out, and so did her partner, the other English teacher at our school. But she was always a good person, and I did trust her to some extent, we had to write a short story on the topic of ‘trapped’ for our GCSE English and I wrote about a trans man. No one knew that I was trans there, and she could have made the assumptions – it wouldn’t be hard, I look too male even for an uber butch dyke – and outed me to everyone. She didn’t.
She’s at peace now. And I hope that her partner and her son get through this with that knowledge.