But I was even more surprised when I realized the article was about a person most commonly known in Birmingham as "Ms. Sid," the "notorious" transsexual... Cooke had linked to a story from Birmingham's past, and as is typical for Cooke, missed the real facts in favor of a bit of political drivel...
Born Sidney McFerrin Ford, Jody Suzanne Ford became something of a local scandal when the hairdresser known as "Mr. Sid" revealed plans to become a woman. The sign outside the shop was changed to "Ms. Sid's" and tongues began wagging. About this time, I was struggling with my own issues, though I had not yet fully realized that I was transsexual. In my mind, the term had some rather negative associations. I was first aware that such a thing was even possible when I saw an episode of a TV show hosted by Joe Pyne where he profiled Christian Jorgensen. It was presented so sordidly that the concept failed to fully resonate with me. Not long after that, when I read the book "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex..." the description of sex change surgery was so horrifying that I was totally repulsed by the idea. Thankfully that description was not remotely close to reality.
About this same time, Renee Richards was in the news, having created a scandal in women's tennis when it was revealed that she had been Dr. Richard Raskin. So, curiosity drove me to pay a visit to "Ms. Sid's." Fortunately, it was also a boutique, so I had an excuse to wonder in and have a look without having a haircut I would have had to explain.
The shop was located in Five Point's South, which ironically, was a neighborhood I would later live in for about ten years. I remember, walking in, and starting to look at the clothes while trying to discretely see if I could spot Ms. Ford. I remember a very tall woman at one of the stations, who I assumed must be the object of my curiosity. Other than being rather tall, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary. I honestly was not sure if this was really her, but I saw no one else that might have been.
On at least two other occasions I saw her (I now know it was her I saw), once getting into her car, and once at a bank. Of course, I was too shy to actually approach her and ask questions.
A few years later, she was killed in an incident at a local motel. It was only through the article that Cooke linked to that I learned, as Paul Harvey would have said, "...the rest of the story."
Sadly, she died when she reacted to some nasty comments made by Larry Maddox, the owner of the Vestavia Hills Motor Lodge. She was at Brookwood Mall with her former wife, when Maddox made some anti-gay slurs. Ms. Ford chased him up the highway in her car and confronted him outside the motel. He went in, and came out with shotgun and fired. He claimed self-defense, and was found not guilty.
Based on details in the story that Cooke linked to, I wonder if she was truly transsexual. For example there was an incident, before transition, where this person is described as being seen in heels, a woman's suit, and full beard. Before transition, this person was also a member of the gay community, though she had been married twice, and had a child. She played basketball at a college affiliated with the Church of Christ, and played semi-professional football for a time. All in all, it is a history more typical of some who are better described as "transgender" than transsexual. And the act of chasing someone down and confronting them as she did seems more male than female.
It is hard to say, but Cooke, and the author of the original article, try to spin it as a hate crime. I had previously thought that Ms. Ford died when a romantic encounter turned nasty. I was not aware that she had chased her killer and confronted him after an altercation.
That is the problem with mixing legitimate transsexual issues with politics. Cautionary tales get lost in the rush to make someone a martyr. This person died, sadly, because she acted like a man. Maddox should have faced manslaughter, not murder, as he started the incident, but Ms. Ford might still be with us if she had not made a stupid choice. A fact, tragically lost on those who have adopted the transgender mindset as Cooke clearly has.