Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another sibling of documentary subject voices concern

Good Evening Stu,

My name is Bill Hembrough, I'm Krysalis's younger brother by seven years. I need to let you know that neither of Krys's parents, none of her siblings, children or family at large ever abandoned her.

For quite a few years we looked at her as more or less a recluse. When she did re-connect, much to our shock, it was as a woman. I congratulate you for your efforts. When I became aware of Krys's issues, I did my best to understand and to learn. She just doesn't seem to fit the profile. Her family knew her better than most. As an older brother she took that position with honor. Generous, warm and protective. Although, it was always obvious to everyone, that she craved and needed extra attention. An easy enough thing to forgive and to overlook.

I hope, in fact, that her story doesn't detract from those,who are in my mind, in more legitimate need. Let me explain it this way. If Krys could have changed the color of her skin, she would have done that, in a heartbeat. Simply to cry out "Please look at me"! The note that you displayed on your web page, my guess was sent by who we call "Little Kevin". He had every right to send it.
He is basically penniless, mentally ill, a recovering drug addict/alcoholic and a child abuse survivor. He is to be congratulated for his efforts and sympathized with for his past. Stu, the story has a myriad of chapters. None of which, could in any fashion, suggest abandonment of Krys by her family.

If we had been sought out prior to Krys's transformation, we would have been there to love, help and assist. Whether or not we agreed or approved, we loved this person. Thank you again Stu for your efforts.

Bill Hembrough


  1. Bill:
    Thank-you very much for taking the time to write. I am very glad to be in contact with you.
    We are still in production on this film and I am still trying to gain greater insight into KrysAnne's relationship with her family; so, your information (as well as from other family members) helps immensely. It is important for me to interpret her story correctly or I am doing a disservice to everyone involved- most of all those who will see the film. It has been an evolving process. If my work has taught me one thing it's that there are many sides to a story.

    Clearly, KrysAnne's relationship with family members was very complicated; and, she speaks to what an awful person Kevin was during her interview. After caregiving for her in her home for several weeks in February it was quite obvious to me that she was a person who dealt with rage, abandonment and (you are very right), craved attention. She was also dying (this time for real) and was in more fear than any of us have ever faced. What I think many people who didn't see her in these final months don't realize is that she was also a person who had found happiness and was trying very hard to overcome some very big mistakes from her past by working on her issues. A person's capacity for change is immense. What she wanted more than anything else was more time to work on herself and repair the damage. I say all this because it puts me in a difficult spot: she was a very warm, thoughtful, spiritual woman by the time I met her last year and yet her family says she was just the opposite until finally she was estranged from them.
    Correct me if I'm wrong but the truth seems that she was both. We will do our best to show what a complicated person she was in the limited amount of time allotted to her story.

    In our documentary, KrysAnne's story will show the effects of isolation that transgender folks face. Estrangement from family is very common (often for many of these reasons that go on for years before the actual operation). But lack of family is only part of the problem. Often there are few friends and a great distrust of agencies/institutions (hospitals, etc.). This is true of many transgender folks not just KrysAnne. She was lucky enough to have a case worker who helped her build a network of friends and professionals for her from scratch in those last six months of her life: something that takes a lifetime. During that time Adam began to take part in that to some degree. All this we hope show in the film.

    I would like to understand better why Little Kevin had every right to send those letters. No judgements from me I just could really benefit from your perspective. My other question is about how she doesn't fit the profile. Could you explain?
    I also would like very much to post what you wrote on the blog so that it is more balanced. I won't do so unless you give the ok. Your brother Patrick wrote a very enlightening comment that he allowed me to post there as well.

    Warmest regards,

    Stu Maddux, Director Editor

  2. This from Bill Hembrough:

    Hello Stu, Thank you for your response. I should have, perhaps, explained why "Little Kevin" had the right to his note. When Krys was younger, she was a true homophobe and to some extent actually, a bigot. Little Kevin is of short stature, diminutive and not a "strong, manly man"! Krys at that time placed a great deal of worth on just these things. Little Kevin was belittled, no pun, by his father for these and other reasons. Of all the people that Kris has left behind, I would imagine that her son Kevin is the angriest. As I have mentioned, "Little Kevin" has far more than his fair share of troubles. What I did mean, was that he is entitled to his anger. As far as fitting the profile goes, Krys grew up as just that, a manly man. Paper route, little league, cub scouts, boy scouts, adult softball league, fishing boat, married a pretty girl, sired beautiful children, played basketball, the Air Force, drinking contests, all the while a total stud, a full beard, grown as soon as he was able and so on. Now, some might explain these things as methods to help him with his sexual identification. I grew up with Krys and there was never the slightest hint of femininity. He grew up in a time when it was far from fashionable to have so much as a gay acquaintance. Quite the reverse. It was more acceptable and simpler to be, just simply, anti-gay. I have a few thoughts about what may have led Kevin to become Krys. Just thoughts, mind you. Having grown up in this time period, how better to justify homosexuality? One would be able to say, "I'm not gay, I'm truly a female. No guilt about one's desires, no hypocrisy regarding past remarks, abuses and opinions.I'm not even convinced that she was gay. The other thought is how this could excuse past life failures. Failed relationships, fatherhood, career and so on. Well small wonder I've not succeeded! I'm not really a man. It would explain away a multitude of things. Now, I'm simply trying to understand. At the same time let it be known that Krys was never, ever abandoned. I have no objection to you sharing my thoughts with anyone. If any one of us were able to find a reason for our miseries and failures, we would all seize upon just that. It would not only serve to explain them, it would certainly offer a great conscience and guilt cleansing device. Krys had her wonderful side and like us all, her darker side. While you were filming, interviewing and caring for Krys, you were privy to her more positive traits. One of the darker ones, you are now seeing, blaming others. Her family is in no way guilty of anything that might have ever harmed Krys. Looking forward to further communication. Thank You Stu.

  3. Hello Again, Stu, I think that what you are working on is an extremely important project. Since learning about Krys's transformation, I have done whatever I can do to learn and to understand. From Dr. Phil to the many learning/teaching television channels. I may be wrong, but,I see how certain persons might actually slip through the cracks and be seen as legitimately deserving of re-assignment. For the wrong reasons. This does nothing to better serve understanding or aid in medical and psychological advances. It occurs to me that an angel or a demon may both develop cancer. Illness, whether physical or psychiatric, makes no distinction. I cannot help but worry, that the efforts made on Krys's behalf may have been more deserved elsewhere. If ever you'd care to chat by phone, let me know. If I can help or learn, I'd be happy to do so. Thank You Stu,,, Bill Hembrough

  4. You should be applauded for all your work in trying to understand something as complicated as being transgender. I too am learning from scratch and have had to overcome my misconceptions and frankly- just my ignorance. It's an ongoing process that has been helped so much by talking with transgender folks. I have found many people to be very open to helping me understand because so many people don't want to.

    Early on it had to be explained to me that sexual preference and sexual identity are different. Sex is not the same thing as gender. It seems obvious to me now as a gay man but what gender you find attractive doesn't define whether you are a man or woman. That was a huge step for me in understanding being transgender. Understanding that what gender I "feel" that I am is much more complicated than what I find attractive. It is far more complex than that, of course, and someone who is transgender could explain the nuances much better than I.

    I can tell you that as a group, transgender folks are one of the most oppressed we have in this world. That's changing through understanding and a lot of hard work on the part of very brave people. Unfortunately the television programs that I have seen sometimes profile people who have larger identity issues than just gender identity and that doesn't really help the understanding at all.

    So I hear what you are saying: that your brother, Kevin (then KrysAnne), definitely was someone who had bigger identity issues than wanting to be a woman.
    All I can tell you from my hours and days and weeks with her is that she so passionately even spiritually felt right as a woman. This time it wasn't an act. She loved everything about it. A spiritual awakening was occurring because of her transition.

    I am sure everything you wrote is correct. I too am having a hard time understanding how someone who was such a bright light came from such darkness. It is just so very complicated and to me, a testament to people's capacity to change. And I am so grateful for this dialogue we are having.