Mary Frances Fairfax – A True Tri-Ess Heroine
“I will accomplish while I live“. That is the motto of the Family Fairfax, whose surname Jane adopted.
Mary Frances, Jane’s wife, lived a life that epitomized that motto. Her legion of achievements, her determination to make the world a kinder place for crossdressers and their families. This was all in an atmosphere of kindness and sweetness, which was indomitable.
Mary grew up in relative poverty, in a South Texas housing project. Although she was a top scholar, plans were that she would attend a local college. But, her counselor had another suggestion. “Mary”, he advised, “You’re the valedictorian of this high school. You’re going to Rice University.” And she did. As a freshman, she met her husband Gil, a freshman advisor. Soon they were an item. On May 29, 1971 they were married.
Ten years later, her husband discovered his feminine side, and shared that with her. After hearing him out, Mary replied, “If you want to become a woman or fool around with hormones, I’m outta here.” Reassured that this would never happen, Mary asked if his feminine side had a name. “Jane" came the reply, and she stated, “Well, then, we’ll just make Jane the best lady she can be.”
And so it went. Mary helped Jane accumulate a wardrobe and gently counseled her about her presentation. When two sons came along, they were immediately introduced to Jane. Over the years, they served on children’s panels, furthering education about crossdressing. When Jane was elected Chair of the Tri-Ess Board of Governance, Mary became Secretary of the Board.
In 1994, Mary volunteered to edit the Tri-Ess “MIRROR”, a quarterly journal. Although members and chapters were not particularly forthcoming with articles, Mary gleaned content from many sources. Soon, the journal expanded from 32 to 64 pages, and finally to 80 quality pages. Putting in 60- hour weeks, she got out 64 timely issues over 16 years, all the while being a gentle mother, loving wife, and a deeply devout Christian.
With her husband, Mary attended Genderland events, but perceived a lack of events and programs for wives. She and Jane proposed to do an event under the auspices of The International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE), but the leadership of that organization was not interested, so the Spouses' and Partners’ International Conference for Education (SPICE), came into being as a Tri-Ess program.
Although very accepting and encouraging of Jane, Mary had her boundaries. Most of these had to do with avoiding fishbowl atmospheres, where Jane might be exposed, to the detriment of career, family, and friends. This, plus an ability to listen with her heart, enabled her to counsel with other wives and save many marriages. Her guiding principles for relationships were mutuality, transparency, communication, negotiation, and selflessness.
Throughout the transgender community, Mary was beloved, and her contributions were recognized. Tri-Ess bestowed on her its highest distinction, the Leader-Servant Award. From her Houston transgender community, she received its Lifetime Service Award. Together with Jane, her contributions were recognized by IFGE, in a Trinity Award, and later, the Virginia Prince Lifetime Service Award.
In 2006, Mary was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia. Still, she fought on, editing the MIRROR, until in 2010 she could go on no longer. On the morning of January 7, 2016, she was translated to Heaven in her sleep. Gently, the angels came, but in her all-too-brief time on earth, she got it done.