By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
FERNDALE – On Monday, June 12, the LGBT community came together to say goodbye to one of its “lighthouses,” Jamie Marie Phillips-Fox. Phillips-Fox, a prominent transgender activist, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on June 7. She was 53.
“Jamie was a beautiful and inspirational activist and leader in our community. Everyone at Triangle is very saddened to hear of her death,” said Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for the Triangle Foundation.
Phillips-Fox was, indeed, an active and successful community leader.
According to a statement by Carrie Copeland, volunteer & leadership development coordinator for Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center, “Jamie was a devoted volunteer for Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center, facilitating the weekly Transgender Rap Group, helping to coordinate the Silent Auction each year at the Big Bash, and assisting at the annual Youth Prom, to name a few of her manifold projects which have touched so many lives and hearts. Jamie’s commitment to the LGBT community was vast, having contributed countless hours to many organizations, including but not limited to, Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center, Crossroads, TransGender Michigan, PFLAG, and Transgender Detroit.”
According to a release from Parents, Families and Friends of Gays and Lesbians – Detroit chapter, Phillips-Fox was a transgender support facilitator for the organization for “several years” and also presented the “Trans 101” program at PFLAG meetings.
According to Rev. Mark Bidwell of Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit where the funeral was held on Monday, Rachel Crandall, executive director of TransGender Michigan, Michelle Brown, a Michigan member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Board of Governors, and Michael Larson, former program director for Affirmations, were among the speakers at the service. Rev. Bidwell conducted the service, which closed with the Christian hymn, “This Little Light of Mine.”
“Jamie has been our light in this community,” said Bidwell. “Her love for life, for [her wife] Michelle, for us, made her shine before us all. In her light we saw her good works and we understand how God used her in life.”
“Jamie’s purpose in life was to show us and teach us about love, about laughter and I believe about being a community. Everywhere Jamie went she went with a message of love. Her message was one of inclusiveness, one of diversity, one of justice,” he said.
“Jamie brought so much to the community. She was always eager to help everybody and anybody. She was one of the nicest people I know, and she will be missed by the whole community,” said Rachel Crandall, executive director of TransGender Michigan.
According to Affirmations marketing director Kathleen LaTosch, “Everyone at Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center is deeply saddened by the loss of Jamie Phillips-Fox. Our hearts and support go out to her wife, Michelle Fox-Phillips.”
“Jamie and Michelle have accomplished so much positive effect towards inclusion and acceptance of transgender people,” said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of Triangle Foundation, in a written statement. “The crucial work that they have advanced will carry on, but unfortunately without Jamie’s grace, wit and charm. The silence of Jamie’s voice will be profound. … All of us who are committed to full equality, justice and inclusion must recommit ourselves to those goals in loving memory of Jamie Phillips. We have all lost a great and delightful friend, ally and crusader.”
According to the eulogy provided to BTL by Rev. Bidwell, Jamie Marie Phillips-Fox was born on March 2, 1953. Her hobbies included collecting lighthouses and magnets and she loved cats, anything related to “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Wizard of Oz” and both classical and classic rock music. She is survived by her wife of two years, Michelle Fox-Phillips, seven brothers and sisters, a daughter and grandchildren “as well as many nieces and nephews.”
According to the eulogy, “She is also survived by a community that loved her and will miss her, organizations that she devoted her time, talent and energy to, such as Affirmations, Triangle Foundation, HRC, PFLAG, Transgender Michigan, Transgender Detroit, Crossroads and MCC Detroit.”
“Jamie’s purpose in life was to show us and teach us about love, about laughter and I believe about being a community,” said Bidwell. “Everywhere Jamie went she went with a message of love. Her message was one of inclusiveness, one of diversity, one of justice.”