Brenda Smith (1934-2019)
A transsexual Bermudian human rights activist who said she had been driven from the island by discrimination has died in Britain, where she spent the last years of her life.
Brenda Smith died, aged 85, last month.
Ms Smith campaigned for Bermuda’s human rights legislation to include gender identity as well as sexual orientation and took her case to the House of Commons in Britain in 2008.
She made a submission on human rights in Bermuda and said she was “an abused septuagenarian male-to-female 23-years post-operative transsexual Bermudian”.
In the submission, which is available online, Ms Smith said she spoke out to “respectfully to draw to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s attention the lack of human rights legislation to protect transsexual persons in Bermuda”.
She also called for LGBTQ people internationally to put pressure on Bermuda and threaten to boycott the island.
The Bermuda Government approved amendments to the Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in 2013.
But for Ms Smith, the move did not go far enough.
She criticised the Government in an interview with The Royal Gazette for its failure to include gender identity in the legislation.
Fellow human rights activist Mark Anderson, a gay rights campaigner and entertainer whose alter ego is Sybil Barrington, Queen of Bermuda, said Ms Smith was a “trailblazer within the gay community”.
Mr Anderson added: “The light has gone dim with the news of her passing.”
He said Ms Smith had contacted him in 2006, when the Government banned him from taking part in the Bermuda Day Parade as Sybil, to give her support to his cause.
Mr Anderson added: “She was one of Bermuda’s first transsexuals, who had to leave Bermuda because of the abuse. She was instrumental in fighting for recognition for transsexuals as a group.”
He said he had visited Ms Smith at her home in Bodmin, Cornwall, in April and that Ms Smith commended him for his activism.
Mr Anderson added: “In her day, she didn’t have the support that we have today.
“She told me there were Bermudians who actually took their own lives in her day because there was no outlet — these differences were something you couldn’t talk about.”
Ms Smith’s Facebook page said Lana, Ms Smith’s middle name, was an anagram for her birth first name of Alan.
Ms Smith’s background was part Danish and she was appointed the Honorary Consul for Denmark when she lived on the island.
But she spent much of her life overseas, at first in the United States, and settled in Britain in 1989.
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