As I wrote previously, Sandy Empanada, Lisa's soul mate, asked me to write a book about Lisa Empanada's life. I have spent the last few months doing the research- official documents, etc. I'm about to start interviews- the coroner who responded to the police call, the man who found her, and, most importantly, her loved ones. In any case, I decided to write the preface. I've already shared it with Sandy. Now I share it with you.
Lisa Empanada did not exist.
Neither did Lisa Ann-Marie Newell.
However, Thomas Vernon Newell did exist legally. He died on September 16, 2013. Cause of death: Suicide by Carbon Monoxide asphyxiation.
I never met Thomas Vernon Newell, known as Tommy to his friends and family, until I gazed down at his lifeless corpse at his funeral. I didn’t drive all the way to Baltimore to attend his funeral. I drove there for the funeral of my dearest friend: Lisa Ann-Marie Newell, aka Lisa Empanada.
You see Tommy was Lisa. Lisa was Tommy’s soul. Lisa was Tommy’s Truth. Lisa died with Tommy.
Lisa was Transgender. She was a woman born in a male body. That male was Tommy. However, Tommy was Lisa. She was ALWAYS Lisa, but had to hide it. So she did.
In the end, Tommy killed Lisa. Murdered her. Murdered my best friend- my Sister.
Me? I’m Sophie. I am also Transgender. I exist legally, because I was able to Transition to my True Self, where Lisa died before she could do the same. There is a story here- and that is what this book is about: that story. It is Lisa’s story.
But I can’t tell Lisa’s story without telling my own.
Lisa was a Light in the lives of many people. Her death was felt in the Transgender community across the world. Many of us drew closer to comfort each other, and we had honest, open discussions about suicide, and the feelings that drive a person to it.
I call those feelings “the Darkness.”
Research has shown that 41% of transgender people attempt suicide. Many transpeople succeed. Lisa was one of them.
I have walked that path as well. That’s how Lisa and I really connected, because I knew EXACTLY how she felt. I did my best to bring her back from the Darkness, along with her therapist. One can NEVER defeat the Darkness alone. So I tried. And I failed. And Tommy killed Lisa.
And she’s gone.
This book is about the Amazing Woman I knew. She called me her “Best Friend,” aside from her wife and soulmate Sandy. Her “Sister.” Why should you could care about her? Well, Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote that “You can’t hate someone whose story you know.” Lisa was a wonderful human being. Her story is worth knowing. This book is about her Life, her Darkness, her Light, my life, my Darkness, and her Death. In it, I will try to make sense of a life that ended far too soon. I will celebrate that Life. I will celebrate my Best Friend. Maybe, someone will learn from it. And maybe, just maybe, the Pain of her loss will ebb from my soul.
In any case, I want people to know my Sister. And why she was who she was.
From Lisa's Funeral