Friends and family…

I wrote a letter two days ago and, after reading it to Jeremy and getting zir approval, I posted it on Facebook. This is the letter…

Seventeen and a half years ago the doctor told me I had a baby boy. The doctor was wrong. Jeremy is transgender, identifying as non-binary trans or bi-gender. Zie explained this to our family doctor as “if gender was a cupcake, I’d be a blue cupcake with pink frosting”, which has got to be the sweetest analogy ever.

Since Jeremy isn’t male, zie is no longer using the pronouns he and him. Instead zie’s using the pronouns zie and zir. These are not hard to use. Zie is used exactly the same as he/she and zir is used like her/him. You can read an excerpt of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland here to see them in action: http://genderneutralpronoun.wordpress.com/about/alice/zie-zir/

If you care about and respect Jeremy, you will use these pronouns. It is that simple. You will slip up and make mistakes. I do and so does Emma. Heck, so does Jeremy for that matter. The important part is simply trying. What I find helps is using the pronouns when you’re thinking about Jeremy, that way it becomes a habit.

There is a 41% attempted suicide rate for trans people (compared with a 1.6% rate for cisgender people) mostly due to a lack of acceptance. Jeremy has already expressed thoughts of suicide. That 41% is not an abstract number, it is real and terrifying. Using zie and zir for pronouns makes Jeremy feel safe and accepted. Please use them, especially if you see zir in real life. It will make a huge difference.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you :)

The response was overwhelmingly positive. So far 60 people have liked the post and I got a wide assortment of comments like…

I’m sure you took a deep breath before sitting down to make this post. It had to be a hard one to type up… I hope you and Jeremy are met with loving and accepting responses to this post. I know meeting you and hearing so much about Jeremy has been an eye opener for me. I try my best to be open-minded and accepting of others, and you all have helped to open my mind in areas that I didn’t realized it was closed. Thank you, Michelle and thank you, Jeremy.

Zie is a sweetie, always has been :)

Zie is adorable. Every time you post zir pictures, I just want to go all cheek pinching Auntie on zir.

Followed by…

BUT YOU’RE SO FLIPPIN ADORABLE, JEREMY! COME LET AUNTIE SQUISH YOUR CHEEKS!!!

Huge hugs to both of you and the rest of your family! My oldest is also trans and having a family that supports them is so super important! I just want to give zie a big ol’ hug!!!! If you also need any support info, I have tons of stuff!

What a brave zie! So proud of you both for sharing this. This zie and zir is not something I had heard of before. Thank you!

Great pronoun explanation! I’m so happy Jeremy is so strong and free to be true to zirself, and has a great family and friends that has zir back! (How did I do? lol)

Zie is so adorable. Please give zir a hug from me (I will refrain from cheek-pinching!)

Yay!! Coming out is hard but so worth it. Good for zir and good for you!!!  Also… I guess you’re no longer obligated to write “kidlet” several times a sentence, eh? lol :)

Everyone deserves to be happy in his/her/zie/zir body. So glad Jeremy has a family who supports zir.
Now if we could just get the rest of society on board….

I’ll be honest. Posting this on Facebook was more for me than Jeremy. Zie has a Facebook account but never uses it, meanwhile I’m on Facebook multiple times a day and I was growing increasingly tired of avoiding pronouns. Besides, as one friend commented via message (and as my Mom said when I told her originally), it wasn’t really much of a surprise. Now we can move on and I can use pronouns again. I was using kidlet a lot.

While I posted my letter, Emma wrote a poem for zir sibling.

Jeremy

To call Emma supportive might be a bit of an understatement :)

Then came the disappointing part. I have 22 relatives on Facebook (not counting Emma and Jeremy). Not a single one of them commented or liked the post. Karen posted pictures within minutes of my letter and an aunt popped up to comment on the pictures. But silence on my page. With 60 likes and 85 comments, there’s no way my post was missed. Facebook loves posts like that; I’m sure it’s still showing up at the top of people’s pages.

I have no idea if we’re being gossiped about. If we are, we aren’t hearing about it. And, if they aren’t being supportive, I don’t want to hear about it.

The best part about my letter is my friends. Every single reply since I’ve posted has used Jeremy’s proper pronouns. Maybe, with some luck, my family will see it’s not odd to be supportive and they’ll follow suit.

The insomnia continues…

I had choir practice last night, which didn’t finish until 9pm. Which was fine except I needed to be up at 4:45am. I got home, read a couple of quick posts on Facebook, and headed off to bed.

Then I got out of bed to get my cat away from the closet doors… twice. She likes finding dark corners to pee. I’ve got Christmas presents at the back of my closet.

Then Jeremy came in to tell me zie couldn’t sleep because zir heart was pounding too much to sleep. This was around 1am. Back to school anxiety had settled in.

I woke shortly after 3am to use the washroom. I was just drifting back to sleep when I realized it was very quiet. That was when Jeremy started yelling for a light because it was really dark… way too dark and zie couldn’t find the emergency light in the living room. I crawled out of bed and handed zir mine. I was in the process of turning on my cellphone so I could set an alarm for work when the power came back on. Jeremy immediately followed. Zie excitedly explained that all the lights went out, even the ones behind our building. There are flood lights on the building behind ours… which means our apartment is never dark. Except for last night. Jeremy informed me zie was not going to sleep at all. This wasn’t a surprise.

I was dozing off again when Jeremy came back nearly in tears. Zie’d made a mug of tea in zir Tassimo and had forgotten it. Somehow the tea ended up spilling all over zir netbook. I thought back to that brief power failure. Jeremy had said something about the power light being off. I told zir to take the battery out and leave the netbook propped up for 24 hours so it could dry. Zie came back in 10 minutes later and stuck the netbook under my nose so I could smell how burnt it smelled. That was not a hopeful smell.

Twenty minutes later I turned off my alarm clock and got out of bed. It was set to go off in five minutes anyways.

Five hours into my shift, my manager asked if I wanted to go home early. Oh yes!!! I’ve taken an hour and a half long nap and am finally awake and 99% sure I’ve got legs. Or it might be I have legs and am 99% sure I’m awake. At least I don’t have to walk anywhere yet…

We’re going to an Evening of Hope tonight, which is a local event against homophobia and transphobia. Our UU congregation has a button making machine so we’ll be helping people make buttons. Now I just need to find something purple to wear. I’m assuming the purple circles under my eyes don’t count.

Ironically I think Jeremy’s more awake than I am.

Shopping with Jeremy…

I was making pancakes this morning when my phone rang. It was my friend P. He and his husband were dropping off groceries at home then he was heading out. Did I want to hang out this afternoon? Was I interested in hanging out in arts and craft shops? Most definitely. So a half hour later Jeremy and I were off.

Shopping with Jeremy is interesting. It always has been. Jeremy has an incessant need to buy something… anything. From the time zie’s been old enough to speak I’ve been tucking zir under my arm while zie wailed, “But Mommy I need… I need…” It didn’t matter what it was. A car battery, a tin of peas, a dented can of anchovies on clearance… Jeremy needed it desperately.

Now at least zie’s more selective with zir needs but they’re all still desperate and burning (while we’re in the store at least). We started at Dollarama where I picked up a couple of stocking stuffers for Emma (did you know they have inflatable elephants there hon?). I found a package of purple glittery pumpkins for our table then Jeremy asked for a purple glittery bow for zir bedroom door. It was $1.25 so I stuck it in the cart. Then zie wanted headphones with a built in microphone. Okay. Then a Lost computer video game. I just bought zir a video game this week so no. I also said no to the USB key to replace the other Dollarama USB key which zie got to replace the previous Dollarama USB key (that could go on forever). I figure I averaged about four “no’s” an aisle.

We went to Subway next, which was a break because everything was food and there wasn’t an option other than a sandwich, a side, and a drink. After that was Wal-Mart, where I said yes to a new pair of jeans and a Doctor Who poster and no to everything else including a $40 suitcase that Jeremy wanted for the sole reason it was purple. The same reason zie gave for wanting a $45 backpack at the nearby art store. I just bought zir a backpack last month. I thought the art store would be a bit of a reprieve but Jeremy started begging for artist’s brushes even though zie doesn’t paint. There are a lot of brushes in art stores.

Michaels Arts and Crafts was our final stop. Jeremy started that store off by asking for a $25 Christmas ornament. We didn’t buy it. Then zie begged zir way up and down every single aisle. The purple glittery scrapbooking paper was tempting. Jeremy doesn’t scrapbook but I do and I’m a sucker for glitter. I’ve been digiscrapping for a decade now though so I resisted. Jeremy pouted.

“Jeremy. I spent thirty-six dollars at Dollarama,” I hissed when we were alone in an aisle. “I’m broke. I can’t afford to spend anymore.”

“We spent that much?!” Jeremy replied. Zie looked shocked.

“Yes.”

“So you can’t afford to buy me anything else?” zie asked and I sighed with relief. Maybe it was going to be that simple.

“No, I can’t,” I agreed. “We’re going to have to window shop.”

We turned the corner into a new aisle. P was standing halfway down the aisle, contemplating a display.

“Ooo… brushes,” Jeremy said excitedly. “Mom, can you buy me a brush?”

it wasn’t that simple. I just barely managed to resist banging my head against the wall.

Jeremy continued begging down every single aisle. My pat answer of “ask for it for Christmas” grew weary. No wonder Jeremy likes the TARDIS so much. Zie’d need one just to hold all the stuff zie wants. And a lot bigger family to buy it all.

Finally we reached the check out and Jeremy grew more frantic. Zie hadn’t gotten anything in the last two stores and zir need to buy had reached a fevered pitch.

“Mom, I’m starving. I need something to eat,” zie pleaded after I turned down a request for candies stuffed inside the plastic bomb from Super Mario. Almost four dollars for 25 cents worth of candy.

“You have a butter tart waiting for you at home,” I replied. This was the fourth time I’d used that line.

“But that’s at home,” he snapped. “I’m starving.”

“You just ate a 12 inch sub and two rainbow chip cookies,” I pointed out.

“But I’m still starving. How about one of those Lindor chocolates?”

It was 89 cents. I grabbed it from the bin and zie sighed with relief.

“Thank you Mom.”

Zie forgot about the chocolate until I pulled it out of the bag at home and obviously didn’t starve. The poster is still rolled inside its wrap and the jeans still folded in the bag. Zie’s done nothing with the purple plastic bin zie needed at Dollarama and the glittery bow is tucked away in a closet because zie’s waiting until closer to Christmas to put it up. Actually, the only one who’s done anything with the stuff we bought today is me.

And now I’ve got a bit of a reprieve… until the next time we go shopping at least.

Watching the train wreck…

There was a missed call and a message on my phone when I got on the bus after work. They were from Emma and she had news about her father. Could I please call her back? I looked up as the bus stopped and Emma got on board; I don’t usually run into her on the bus so that was a surprise.

She sat beside me then said with a wide grin, “Guess what? Dad got arrested!”

I thought I’d misheard her at first but after a moment I managed to ask what for. Had he tried to sell his old pain medication? Was he caught buying pot? Her answer wasn’t one I’d come up with and yet it wasn’t a surprise. He’d assaulted his ex-girlfriend, the same woman he’s been stalking and harassing for several months now. He doesn’t like it when women break up with him before he’s ready. I know that from personal experience.

My first comment was inane. “I need to apologize to our mediator.”

Emma gave me a blank look.

“She worried about me,” I explained. “She thought your Dad was going to try to hurt me and I told her not to worry. I guess I should apologize except…”

Except it had been so long, I couldn’t even remember her name. Besides, there was no way she’d remember me.

Emma went on to say that her Dad had been released but had to go back to get fingerprinted. She and Mark were trying to figure out how he’d miss his appointment. Maybe he’d just sleep in or they figured he might to the hospital the night before with chest pains. Then she wondered how he’d react in court. Would he get angry and lash out like he does often? Maybe he’d get probation or put under house arrest.

And then she was gone, hurrying off the bus with Mark’s younger brother, who’d coincidentally gotten on the bus a stop after Emma. She’s coming over for dinner tomorrow night.

I quickly called Jeremy to see how zie felt about the news. Zie sounded more resigned than anything else. “It’s not like it’s a surprise,” zie muttered. And zie’s right. Their Dad gets more callous and self-centered with each passing year.

Jeremy says zie’s fine with what happened. Zie almost never sees zir father and just as rarely hears from him. But zie’s been on edge all evening, snapping and wanting to rant about anything and everything. The latest was a rant on how the government (I have no idea which one) is too lazy to restrict model airplanes to lower air space. Ironically zie doesn’t actually want those restrictions because the best videos come from the highest planes. This quickly segued into how gamers are being discriminated against because of inflated statistics that claim all video gamers are violent. Or maybe it was just 98%. Or maybe zie’d pulled that figure out of zir ass… but zie’d read it a while ago. I think I whimpered around then. Jeremy’s thankfully back watching videos and hopefully relaxing.

I’ve told people before that observing my ex is like watching a very slow train wreck. Everyone knows it’s going to end badly; the only questions are when and how bad. It’s a ride I’m glad we’re no longer on.

Edited to add Emma’s view of the situation.

My mind is silent!!!

I started taking Effexor XR two weeks ago tomorrow. It was yesterday that I first noticed the quiet. I went to our Unitarian Universalist congregation and was able to listen to the speaker without my mind wandering off in a million directions. I was on my way home when I looked out the window at scarlet maples pressed against a vivid blue sky and realized how quiet my mind was. There was only one thought running through my mind, not hundreds of them shooting off in all directions. I never knew how loud my mind was until the rest of my thoughts faded.

We went to my parents’ house for dinner last night, which was nerve wracking to begin with. Karen was there with her two children and husband, she hadn’t spoken to Emma since she disowned her this summer. Plus I wasn’t sure how people were going to react to me using the proper pronouns for Jeremy. Emma was fine. I don’t think her and Karen spoke but Karen wasn’t rude and that part of the evening went without a hitch. The family used he/him constantly for Jeremy’s pronouns but said nothing about Emma and I referring to zir as zie/zir. And poor Jeremy came down with a cold yesterday and was much more interested in curling up on the couch than anything the family was saying. Zie’s still asleep.

After dinner the adults gathered at the table to chat. Well, most of the adults. Emma and Mark disappeared into the backyard to smoke while Karen’s husband disappeared somewhere. I sat at the table waiting for the conversation to become overwhelming… and it didn’t. I stayed for the whole conversation.

On a whim, I went online and googled Effexor XR and ADHD and, sure enough, it’s showing promise as an ADHD medication. Note, I’m a child of the 70’s and have not been diagnosed with anything. I was, however, a poster child for inattentive ADHD. I used to forget I was heading off to school and end up playing with children I’d passed on the way (kids a couple of years younger than me who were too young to attend school). I remember a poster of numbers in one of my classroom. The numbers were anthropomorphic and I’d daydream about the adventures they’d get into. I used to get up from my desk to go look out the window forgetting I was supposed to be working quietly at my desk or spend my entire test time drawing clouds and filling in letters. I daydreamed through all of my first year of grade four. I’d been placed in an open concept classroom (something that had been popular in the 70’s) and failed all my spelling tests that year; the class next to ours was doing the same test at the same time so the words sounded like echoes of each other. I was so distracted by the echoes, I didn’t get the words written down before the next words were said. By then I couldn’t remember what the previous word had been.

Right now I’m in my living room. Most people would consider it quiet but I’m listening to the keyboard clatter, the clock ticking on the far wall, the hum of our electric fireplace, the buzz of the fridge in the kitchen, the neighbour’s tap, and the trickle of our cat’s fountain in the dining room. Plus assorted sounds like the elevator doors opening, cars going by a block away, and the occasional person walking down the hallway. Add my own internal thoughts and then have one of my kids want to talk with a video game or song in the background and I’m quickly overwhelmed. Hopefully taking away the internal chatter will help.

Depression, ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, anxiety… all these exist co-morbidly, woven together like a tapestry. It’s hard to say which one causes which issue (and even harder when I haven’t been diagnosed with anything). But the medication is definitely making a positive difference.

Also, it’s the Canadian Thankgsiving today. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Ebola…

No we don’t have it.

Jeremy was talking to zir teachers during free time yesterday and mentioned ebola. Zir teacher immediately informed Jeremy that it’s in the news lately because it’s a scary disease and highly contagious; that you can catch it just by being in the same room with an infected person.

Jeremy said they were wrong, you can only catch it by touching the bodily fluids of an infected person. I’m sure they’ll consider this yet another example of how argumentative zie is but, damn it, zie was right. The teachers went online to prove Jeremy wrong but yeah. Instead of conceding, they asked zir to explain how the doctor got infected. Jeremy figured the doctor got drooled on when the patient said “aaahhhh”. I’m figuring there was a heck of a lot more “bodily fluids” than that but will leave Jeremy to zir innocence.

Meanwhile I’m shaking my head in amazement. We had a meeting recently and Jeremy’s teacher told me zie’s intimidating and terrifying zir classmates. Her example was a classroom activity where the students were all asked to share their favourite place. One boy said his bedroom and Jeremy immediately replied that zie wouldn’t have thought that since the boy’s bedroom was really small. A girl said the kitchen was her favourite place and Jeremy commented zie wouldn’t have picked there. That was it for intimidating and terrorizing… not exactly much of either.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who looked underwhelmed by this story because the teacher went on to explain that the other students in the class are very delayed and were cringing and pulling away from Jeremy, obviously upset by zir comments. And, as if to quell any questions, she added that they were too delayed to relay their concerns to their parents. Basically she made them sound like they were barely capable of speech, implying that Jeremy’s much more intelligent and acting like a tyrant. The flip side is Jeremy told me this week that zie and the boy were walking to the bus together, just chatting, when their teacher came up and accused Jeremy of harassing him. You see, Jeremy and the boy are friends, which is how zie knew how small his bedroom was. The boy was confused and told Jeremy zie wasn’t harassing him.

How on earth can they claim Jeremy’s terrorizing zir classmates by commenting on their favourite places but it’s fine for them to describe ebola as a deadly disease that spreads as easily as the common cold in front of those same kids?

While they’re worrying about how fragile the other students are, they don’t seem to realize at all how much they affect Jeremy by their actions. They made apple crisp today and the teacher decided to serve the students by gender, even though Jeremy reminded her once again that zie doesn’t identify as either gender. So it went ladies first, then gentlemen, and finally Jeremy because (oops) the teacher forgot about “him”. They’re all little incidents but they’re adding up. Jeremy told me this afternoon that school makes zir feel like dying. At least zie’s got the next three days off for a bit of a breather.