June 05, 2006

Canon Clinton Jones

A great and good man passed away yesterday. Canon Clinton Jones has died, apparently of pancreatic cancer, at the age of 89.

I cop to it now and then; I am a transsexual woman. And Canon Jones was founder of and involved in the Gender Identity Clinic of New England (GICNE) when I was transitioning. So I got to know him, a little bit. He was a good, kind, and gentle man; the world needs more of his kind in the service of organized religion.

I have three Canon Jones stories; none of which is representative of his life or his good work, just three little snippets where our lives intersected.

Early in my process; I was aware of my trans nature but was trying very hard not to transition; having some serious moral and ethical concerns about medical intervention, and hoping to come to terms with this or find a point of balance shy of medical and legal transition. I would visit the local transsexual support group; testing the waters. Sadly, at that time, I was perceived by the members of the group, and by Canon Jones, to be a just a crossdresser - not to be taken seriously. He can be forgiven for his old-school ways; he had been working with transsexual persons for 30 years at that point and had formed some opinions; and goodness knows the world has changed since he first started to minister to this population. But my path was slightly harder for finding no support in that space for my path of reluctant transition.

Later, when I did approach GICNE for support (I needed official medical sanction to access transition related medical services) I met with Canon Jones for an interview, and I later met with him at a board meeting seeking approval to start hormones. At that meeting, he commented to the nervous and slightly over-cross-dressed woman in front of him "Well, you have one thing going for you....." I waited for some comment about my hair (which was full and curly despite 40 years of a testosterone based endocrine system) but instead he simply said "you have a very nice voice". It was a wonderful thing to say; I have always been somewhat shy about my voice. Perhaps in that small exchange I picked up some confidence.

Finally, after I had transitioned, Zippy and I were in the front row of the balcony at the Bushnell, at the opera (darned if I can remember which one). Sitting across the aisle from us, also in the front row, were Canon Jones and a woman friend. We caught his eye and waved, and at the intermission, visited for a bit. He seemed genuinely interested and happy that my life was going well. I remember riding down the elevator with him after the performance (Zippy was recovering from a cracked pelvis from getting hit by a car) and laughing; in a carload full of octogenarians, I was the tallest thing on the bus.

Canon Clinton Jones, godspeed. Thank you for your years of work and dedication. I hope that you have received rewards both during your time on this earth, and in the afterlife.

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