At work today…

It was dark when I woke up this morning. All I wanted to do was turn off my alarm and drift back to sleep. My bed was comfy and my cats were snuggled around me like purring hot water bottles. But I got up because of rent and groceries and all those fun things. Jeremy had a P.A. Day and got to sleep in.

I walked to my first bus in the dark… and the second bus as well. Actually it was still dark when I got off that bus and headed into work. I opened the door and could feel my heart plummet toward my shoes. It felt like I hadn’t even left since yesterday, like I’d gone out the door after work then turned and came right back in. I wanted desperately to go home and still had an eight and a half hour shift ahead of me.

“Michelle!”

One of my coworkers saw me and waved. Then another waved as well. I smiled and waved back before heading into the staff only area.

“Michelle! I saw your Facebook post! I just wanted to say I think you’re such an awesome Mom!” A friend of me hurried over and gave me a hug. “There was one thing I didn’t understand though. In your post you said a word. Transgender. What does that mean?”

“Umm… it’s when your gender and body don’t match. Jeremy looks like a boy on the outside but doesn’t feel like a boy on the inside,” I replied.

She grinned. “You really are an awesome Mom. I wish you were my Mom.” Then she gave me another hug.

I’m not quite 3 months older than her. That would be interesting.

“Michelle!” One of my managers came into the staff only area and grinned when she saw me. “Did you look beside the computer?”

I drew a complete blank. All I could think of was the computer in our break room and I had no idea what anyone could have done to make it interesting. Heck, it’s been slowly dying for months now with no one paying it any attention. I’m guessing the occasional warning to replace the hard drive isn’t a good thing.

“I haven’t got that far yet,” I explained. “I only just got here.”

She laughed. “You goof, I mean your computer at home. Did you sneak a peek at what Jeremy’s making you for Christmas?”

Oh right. I called Jeremy before zie left for school yesterday. Jeremy asked me not to look by the computer because zie’d been working on my Christmas present that morning and left it sitting there.

“No,” I assured her. “I didn’t peek. I really don’t know what zie’s making me.”

She gave me a mock suspicious look. “Okay, I guess I’ll trust you.”

“Michelle! Guess what I made you?” one of my coworkers asked as she came around the corner of the break room.

It was Diwali yesterday so chances were it was a food item.

“Did you make me dal?” I asked eagerly and she nodded.

“I added eggplant and potato to it too,” she said as she handed me a still warm container.

“Thanks,” I said happily and gave her a hug after I opened the lid and sniffed. It smelled wonderful. It tasted just as good too.

And that’s why I commute an hour each way for a minimum wage job… because my coworkers are amazing :)

An Evening of Hope…

I was going to write a blog post last night but I was exhausted and the words just weren’t making any sense so I watched Doctor Who instead. I managed to watch two whole episodes. Jeremy wanted me to watch a third but I figured zie didn’t want me passed out, drooling on zir shoulder, so I went to bed.

On Monday I volunteered to help out at this year’s Evening of Hope. It’s an annual event in our city, remembering LGBTQ people who have died by suicide or murder, and honouring people who have made a difference over the past year. My UU congregation has a button making booth where you can decorate your own button. Jeremy didn’t volunteer, instead I bribed zir to show up with the offer of a chicken or steak dinner. Not that I was extravagant, they were the best steak bits Tim Horton’s had in their warming tray.

Our booth was right beside the bandshell, the closest booth to the washrooms. Which is why I noticed an oversight. I asked who was in charge and got directed to a slightly frazzled looking gentleman on the stage.

“Excuse me? I was wondering if you have gender neutral washrooms this year?”

I was informed both washrooms were, in fact, gender neutral but the person who was supposed to bring posters to cover the male/female signs had forgotten them at home. So I offered to make some and he accepted… probably because he had no idea how bad my drawing skills are…

Just pretend the figure has arms.

Just pretend the figure has arms.

Last year the organizers strung extension cords across the park allowing each booth to set up lights. This year they decided that would be too risky, much to Jeremy’s relief. Zie’d been panicking about the rain and those cords before we even reached the park. Of course that brought about a whole new concern for zir. What would we do for lights? Could they shine a spotlight on us from stage? Could we go back home and get our emergency light? After zie’d asked variations of these questions for several minutes, I decided to give everyone a break and take zir to view the other booths.

It’s a good thing each booth had a roof because the rain started coming down quite heavily. We ran from one both to another, eyeing the free samples and asking questions. Finally we reached Jeremy’s favourite booth, the one offering free cupcakes.

Jeremy and the rainbow cupcake

You can see how hard it was raining by the state of Jeremy’s coat. You can also see zir new sparkly purple tie :)

Jeremy headed home as soon as zie finished eating zir cupcake and I got to work making Lenny’s button. Zie’d asked me to design one for zir. Apparently Lenny wasn’t aware of my poor drawing skills either.

I had an idea in mind, sadly just not the artistic ability. However I tried my hardest and was able to make it at least recognizable. My biggest disappointment is that I set the button down on the table to take a picture and there was a leak in the tent… right where I put the button. So my picture ended up with water splatters.

TARDIS pin

It’s a soggy TARDIS on a pride flag!

I was exhausted when I got home. I’d had choir practice on Sunday so I’d gone to bed later than I’d hoped. Then Jeremy woke me at 1am to say zie couldn’t sleep due to anxiety; zir heart was pounding too hard. I woke up at 3am when Jeremy made zirself tea then again at 3:40am when we had a brief power failure; Jeremy started yelling when all the lights went out. There were tears at 4am when Jeremy went into zir room and re-discovered the tea. Jeremy’s second hand Tassimo leaks and it had dripped all over zir netbook. It was fried. Completely and utterly fried.

My alarm went off at 4:45am. Technically. I shut it off at 4:44am as I hadn’t been asleep in well over an hour. All that kept me going that day was Advil and chocolate… and now I was home and ready for bed. I sat down at my netbook for a quick second as Jeremy looked up from zir video game.

“Mom. When I grow up I’m going to cut off my penis.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I replied, quietly stifling a yawn. “That would be better off happening in surgery with anaesthesia. It would hurt a lot otherwise.”

Jeremy nodded and went back to zir game while I headed off to bed. Later Jeremy angrily told me zie’d said it as a joke because zie was mad at zir video game.

Alrighty then. I’ve joked before about my metaphorical parenting book. Well it’s missing way too many chapters; I have no clue what’s going on.

*throws the book over my shoulder and walks away*

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.