UPDATE | Friends, family honor Rowan Feldhaus' life through Harry Potter-esque memorial

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News 12 NBC 26 News At 11 | Monday, May 22, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Friends and loved ones are saying goodbye to Augusta University student Rowan Feldhaus after he died from surgery complications.

Feldhaus made national headlines last year when local judge David Roper denied the transgendered man the right to change his name from Rebecca Elizabeth to Rowan Elijah. Even in death, friends and family say his legacy will live on in those who struggle with their identity.

A slideshow of memories rolls on as friends and family watched Rowan Feldhaus' life one picture at a time. The folks inside Augusta University's Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre gathered to honor the life and legacy of a 25-year-old man taken too soon.

"It's very overwhelming," says an emotional Kristina Masone. "We didn't expect this many people to reach out. I don't think Rowan realized the impact he had on people."

Masone, one of Feldhaus' closest friends, says his fight started long before changing his name. She says she's known him for nearly 15 years, but always thought he was fighting what defined him growing up through school.

"Even though he didn't know who he was, he always seemed like he wasn't quite comfortable," Masone says. "But he's still very unapologetic for who he was. He was true to himself."

It's that spirit, she says, that lead to the decision Feldhaus had struggled with since he was a teenager: he identified as a male. After fighting a ruling to change his name last year, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in his favor earlier this year.

But after all that fighting, complications from a surgery part of his transition ended his life. Masone says losing Feldhaus after everything he had fought for still doesn't sit easy with her and his loved ones.

"When he passed, I didn't accept it," Masone says. "I'm still struggling with it. I feel like it's really unfair."

But through tears and heartbreak, friends and family robed up Monday night with "wands" and pumpkin juice at the ready to honor Feldhaus through one of his favorite loves: the Harry Potter books and films. Masone says it was a way to ease the pain of his loss while remembering the person some have called a pioneer for Georgia's LGBTQ community.

"When a very significant character in the books passes away, all the wizards raise their wands in remembrance," says Rachel Aran, another close friend. "And to me, the life of Rowan symbolizes that."

With a chant of "Wands Up" and the spark of a lighter, tens of sparklers lit up the Summerville Campus in his honor. Masone says his name and actions will inspire many looking to find their true selves, no matter how dark the light may seem in their journey.

"More people who are struggling to find themselves will become more comfortable just by with his name change," Masone says. "That will be his legacy - helping others."

Feldhaus had attended Augusta University for years and had served as the School Government Association's Vice President all year until his passing. A member announced their annual SGA Organizational Member of the Year award and a scholarship will be named in Feldhaus' honor starting next year.


Monday, May 22, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Rowan's Farewell set for Monday has been moved to the Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre patio.

The life of a local transgender man who passed away after surgery complications will be celebrated at a farewell event that will be nothing short of magical.

A "wand" ceremony will be held to say goodbye to Rowan Elijah Feldhaus. The event will be held on Monday, May 22 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre patio at Augusta University.

Those who have Harry Potter wands or Harry Potter apparel are encouraged to bring those. The public is invited to attend, and are encouraged to bring sparklers so everyone can "raise their wands."

Event organizers say while everyone is free to join, they ask all those who attend to please be respectful and keep the event peaceful.

If you would like to join the event, you can do so on Facebook:

Rowan's Farewell

We'll be holding a wand ceremony to say farewell to Rowan Elijah Feldhaus at the tear drop on Augusta University Campus. If you own a wand or have Harry Potter apparel feel free to bring those along! Everyone is free to join, but please be respectful and keep this moment peaceful.



Thursday, May 18, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Another farewell celebration will be held for a local transgender man who passed away from surgery complications.

CrossFit 706 will hold a celebration of life event for Rowan Elijah Feldhaus on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 4304 Sudan Drive in Martinez.

Feldhaus was a member of CrossFit 706. According to event organizers, he was a son, brother, friend, student, teacher, and hero. They encourage anyone interested in attending to celebrate the impact that he had on their lives "and the countless lives of others."

To attend the event, RSVP on their event page on Facebook. The attire is casual dress, and you're encouraged to bring your own beverages.

Rowan Elijah Feldhaus Celebration of Life

Join us on Saturday May 20th 2017 @ 4pm to celebrate the life of our faithfully departed brother Rowan Elijah Feldhaus. Rowan was a son, brother, friend, student, teacher and hero. We will celebrate the impact that he had on our lives and the lives of countless others.




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The life of a local transgender man who passed away after surgery complications will be celebrated at a farewell event that will be nothing short of magical.

A "wand" ceremony will be held to say goodbye to Rowan Elijah Feldhaus. The event will be held on Monday, May 22 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. in front of Payne Hall on Augusta University's Summerville Campus.

Those who have Harry Potter wands or Harry Potter apparel are encouraged to bring those. The public is invited to attend, and are encouraged to bring sparklers so everyone can "raise their wands."

Event organizers say while everyone is free to join, they ask all those who attend to please be respectful and keep the event peaceful.

If you would like to join the event, you can do so on Facebook:

Rowan's Farewell

We'll be holding a wand ceremony to say farewell to Rowan Elijah Feldhaus at the tear drop on Augusta University Campus. If you own a wand or have Harry Potter apparel feel free to bring those along! Everyone is free to join, but please be respectful and keep this moment peaceful.




Monday, May 11, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A local transgender man fought for his right to legally change his name in court died after complications with surgery. Last week, Feldhaus went under the knife for one of his gender transition surgeries and there were complications.

"It was complications post surgery and then he was readmitted post surgery and it started snowballing from there," his friend, Austin Atkins, said.

Rowan Feldhaus, 25, was in the final stages of transitioning into a man. He started the process about two years ago. A year ago, he petitioned the court to legally change his name to Rowan Elijah.

Judge David Roper denied his request stating, "My policy has been that I will not change a name from an obvious female name to an obvious male name and vice versa." The same judge also denied another local transgender man from changing his name too.

"We were all very proud of Rowan for not accepting what was clearly a wrong and to fight for his own personal freedoms," Atkins said.

Both Rowan and the other young man appealed. In March, the Georgia Court of Appeals over turned Judge Roper's decision. Rowan's name is now legal.

"This can't be happening this just started. He's living his life the way he wanted it to," Jennifer Moore said.

On Monday, Rowan had surgery. He went into septic shock a few days later and lost oxygen to his brain. His family did not expect him to survive.

"Rowan knew the risks going into all of this and he was willing to accept the risks to do what he knew he wanted to do," Atkins said. "Rowan will always be a personal hero of mine. he set an example for others to follow with how he lived his daily life."

Rowan's mother says he will continue to help people after death. He was an organ donor.