Remembering Christopher

Christopher Lee, known as Christoph among his peers of 19+ years in the recovery community, began his life under the name Kristina Lee on September 4, 1964 in San Diego, CA. Born in the lunar year of the Dragon, he was a powerful and fierce two-spirit being – a force to be reckoned with.

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A leading activist of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Transgender community, in 1997, Christopher collaborated with Al Austin and Elise Hurwitz to found the world’s first transgender film and arts festival, Tranny Fest. Now called the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival, this event is stronger than ever, serving as a powerful testament to Christopher’s legacy.

An award-winning filmmaker whose work screened across the globe, Christopher was best known for his last three films, Trappings of Transhood, Alley of The Tranny Boys, and Sex Flesh in Blood. Christopher stated of Trappings that he “. . .wanted a documentary that wasn’t telling people what to think but helping people to think about their own gender, and about gender period… You have to trust what people believe and who they tell you that they are.” This generous invitation to celebrate others’ humanity, and in the process to more fully accept one’s own, lay at the core of Christopher’s vision.

“I don’t claim to represent anyone except me. I am conscious of who I am and what community I choose to be in. No one can represent a community.”

Christopher Lee (left) with fellow 2002 SF Pride Community Grand Marshall, Shawna Virago (center) and now State Senator, Mark Leno.
Christopher Lee (left) with fellow 2002 SF Pride Community Grand Marshall, Shawna Virago (center) and now State Senator, Mark Leno.

A Google search of these three titles combined results in a total of 221,900 entries, many of them academic. Produced in the mid-90’s, all had a significant impact on the budding field of queer studies; indeed, they helped to define the queer aesthetic.

In 2002, San Francisco’s LGBTQI community formally recognized Christopher for his contributions and leadership by electing him Community Grand Marshal of the San Francisco Pride Parade. He was the first FTM person to be so honored anywhere in the world.

“I’m bringing glamour back to pride, and unity back to a community, while acknowledging differences. Fashion is one way to express oneself. “

To those who were close to him, he was a charming, wonderful and kind-hearted being. During his last few years, Christopher and his friends worked diligently to create a safety net of culturally sensitive, transgender-supportive healthcare and social services. However, after a long and valiant struggle with depression and physical challenges, Christopher took his life.

Christopher (top left) with adopted family member, Chino Scott-Chung, and Tranny Fest Co-Founder, Al Austin at 1989 Giants National League Pennant play-off game.
Christopher (top left) with adopted family member, Chino Scott-Chung, and Tranny Fest Co-Founder, Al Austin at 1989 Giants National League Pennant play-off game.

We invite all who find their way to this website to reflect upon and honor the legacy with which he’s gifted us and the transgendered generations to come by taking up the charge to shift the healthcare paradigm that better reflects, protects and respects our Transgender and LGBQI people.  As a first step, please see our “Take Action” and “Resiliency Resources” pages.