The recent death of Lorenzo Igisaiar Okaruru, a 28 year old transgendered female is a reminder that not all human beings are tolerant of diversity. Ms. Okaruru's badly disfigured body was found in an overgrown field of Southwest Farmington Road south of Hillsboro on August 26, 2001 according to the September 4 Oregonian. She was savagely beaten about the head and the face by a blunt object. I have found in my practice that most people, if they have a chance to be informed are willing to listen and learn even if they do not understand. That does not mean everyone you meet is going to be accepting of you. I have also found it is impossible to predict individual reactions and that education is not a guarantee of a willingness or ability to accept someone who is different.
For individuals in transition, the disparity between their bodies and their souls can set the stage for aggression and assault. Transsexuals are sixteen times more likely to be murdered usually brutally and up close as with Ms. Okaruru. In the Portland Metropolitan area, I feel that this is an accepting area but like all large cities, harbors many diverse feelings and beliefs. I would urge caution when forming new relationships to try and be open and honest with contacts that become more than casual. Not all will agree with this but I have found the honesty and openness fostered respect and in the end, safety for me personally.
Sara Kristine Becker, MD
September 2. 2001