October 25, 1988 - December 6, 2017
When Melody Owens was born in Bremerton, Washington on October 25, 1988 the staff at Harrison Hospital assigned her gender as “male”, and she was given the name “Kristopher”. As she would later discover, the gendered box she was placed into at birth did not fit her truth. Though she was confidant in her female identity by her teens, she made the decision to conceal this fact for nearly 15 years.
Melody went to elementary school in Bremerton, spent a year in Hawaii then returned home to graduate from Klahowya Secondary School in 2007. In high school, Melody became notorious for her fashion sense, wearing a t-shit with a tie almost every single day. She was shy and introverted, reading thousands of pages of books both academic and fictional, including the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
After graduation she moved to Ellensburg to attend Central Washington University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in History. After completing her undergraduate degree, she stayed to work on her Master’s in Russian History, with dreams to become a museum curator. It was her time at university that allowed Melody to escape from her shell for the first time, forming special friendships with those that she chose to let in.
Before pursuing her Master’s, Melody married her girlfriend of five years. Melody and her wife were inseparable, best friends and soulmates all in one package. In the months after the marriage, Melody’s behavior began to change. Melody, still concealing her transgender identity started to self-medicate with alcohol and ran into legal trouble. Melody got divorced as a result and moved back to Bremerton before completing her graduate program.
Melody returned home to stay with her mother Jeannelle and younger brother Brandon. She fought her addiction for several years, cycling through mental health services and various employment situations. Melody eventually went sober for over a year and became a meeting leader and sponsor with Alcoholics Anonymous. She even finished her Master’s program off campus and received her degree in early 2017.
In the summer of 2017, Melody came out as a transgender lesbian woman to a handful of close friends and relatives. She was able to find a job as Melody, where she could openly express her gender identity for the first time ever. She experimented with cloths and jewelry while at home, but rarely found the confidence or support to be open in public spaces.
The months after Melody’s coming out were especially distressing for her. Her relationship with certain family members became strained following her announcement, causing her to lose the little support she had left. On December 6th, 2017 Melody took her own life. She had just turned 29, and was survived by her brother Brandon (20), sister Jessika (25) and mother Jeannelle (45).
Melody posted on Facebook for the last time three days before her death, all it said was “I love you.”
Melody’s obituary stated her name as “Kristopher (Melody) Owens”, but gave no mention of her transgender or lesbian identities. The funeral followed a similar path, with no talk of mental health, gender identity or alcoholism. Every speaker used he/him pronouns and the name Melody was never spoken.
Melody was nearly erased by the death of her mortal body, but those who remember her will never forget her true beauty, which will remain infinitely enduring.