Rowan Elijah Feldhaus, a 25-year-old woman who identified as a man, has died from complications related to a hysterectomy she underwent in her quest to become a man in Augusta, Georgia.
Feldhaus, who was born Rebecca Elizabeth Feldhaus in Germany to a U.S. military family and recently won a court battle to change her name, reportedly underwent surgery to remove her uterus on May 4 but suffered septic shock and lost oxygen to her brain in the aftermath of the surgery.
"It was a pretty routine procedure. [She] (Feldhaus) had no additional reason to be concerned. [She] was extremely healthy — [she] works out every day, [she's] very conscious of [her] diet," close friend and paralegal Meg Adams told the Augusta Chronicle.
In a GoFundMe campaign Feldhaus launched last year seeking to raise $6,000 to help pay for the surgeries that would make her a man physically, she explained that she couldn't wait to get the procedures done because she was suffering from dysphoria.
"In a way, I've waited all my life! I've been searching to find out who I was meant to be all my life. Dysphoria has a huge impact on getting surgery done as soon as possible," she wrote.
"It takes a lot out of me to get up every day and to go about my day when my body doesn't match who I am and being constantly reminded that I'm not truly me when someone looks me up and down or when I look at myself in the mirror.
I also don't want to go through another Georgia summer in a binder!" she explained.
The campaign only raised $635.
Lambda Legal, the LGBT advocacy group that represented Feldaus in her legal fight to change her name, said in a statement that they were saddened by her passing.
"Our hearts are heavy at the tragic loss of a courageous young [woman] who fought for the right to determine [her] own name and destiny. An Army reservist and a student, Rowan's grace, quiet dignity, strength and self-assurance were an inspiration to me and many others who heard [her] story," the statement said.
"After having been discriminated against by a judge who refused to allow [her] to change [her] name because [she] was transgender, Rowan wanted to make sure that no other transgender person was similarly insulted and objectified. Because Rowan stood up, Georgia judges are now required to allow people to change their names without bias.
"We offer our deepest condolences to Rowan's family and loved ones during this difficult time. We will honor Rowan's life by continuing to fight discrimination in all its forms against transgender people," the statement added.
Feldhaus was a student at Augusta University for years and had served as the school's government association's vice president all year until her passing, according to WRDW-TV. On Monday night, friends and loved ones gathered on the school's campus to remember her in a Harry Potter-themed memorial.
"It's very overwhelming," an emotional Kristina Masone said. "We didn't expect this many people to reach out. I don't think Rowan realized the impact [she] had on people."