It’s not child abuse…

A friend of mine was accused recently of child abuse by someone she knows. Her child is loved and supported, disciplined fairly, has a clean and safe home, and plenty of food. The child is not abused by any stretch of the imagination. And most people would agree with this statement… right until they learn the child is trans. Then everything falls apart.

Some people argue it’s abuse to let a child transition because “what if they change their mind?”. Okay, so what if they do? There is no surgery performed on children. No hormones. If a child changes their mind, all that’s involved is clothing, a hair style, and some paperwork. Know how I know? Because it happens. Not nearly as often as some organizations claim but it does. Sometimes the child turns out to be between or beyond male and female… sometimes they turn out to be cisgender. And the parents do another wardrobe switch and let the kid change hair styles. And that’s it, it’s that simple.

Others argue that it’s abuse because the child is too young to know. How many people here have ever met a toddler who didn’t know their own mind. They know what they want to wear, what they want to eat, how they want their hair, and they know their gender. Most of the time people have no problem with this. They aren’t concerned when a child with a vulva says “I’m a girl” because she’s old enough to know that. It’s only if she has a penis that she’s too young.

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Jeremy at three years old

Then there’s the people who have the best of intentions. What if the child gets teased? I hate to break it to them but all children get teased at some point and it can be over anything (or nothing). You can’t prevent teasing by restricting your child. You prevent teasing by teaching children kindness, coping skills and how to handle social interactions.

Jeremy went to a birthday party when they were four years old. The girls all got princess Barbie napkins and the boys got plain blue ones. Jeremy immediately asked for a Barbie one, which surprised the mother of the birthday girl.

“I thought the boys would rather have blue,” she said in confusion as she handed Jeremy the coveted pink Barbie napkin.

Every other boy in the room immediately asked for one too. It’s easy to say that gender stereotypes are inherent but it’s hard to judge considering how we ingrain them from before birth.

What I don’t get is how people can denigrate a little boy (or a child perceived to be male) for acting feminine, for being a “sissy”, or for liking the colour pink. They consider it okay to make their child cry over their personality or preferences in order to “toughen that child up”. Even though that attitude comes with a 75% chance of suicidal depression and a 58% chance of that child attempting suicide before the age of 24 years old. Yet they’ll claim allowing the child to be well adjusted and feel happy and supported with their gender expression is abuse.

Listen to your child. Love them. Trust them. They know who they are.

It’s the most wonderful time…

When I was very little, my parents used to ask me what I wanted for Christmas and my answer was always the same. A pretty tree with lots of sparkling lights. Things haven’t changed. Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year. I love it all. The lights, the decorations, the glitter, the music, time with family and friends, pretty cards, baking, presents, and an ever present feeling of hope and goodwill. This holiday is me.

This is also the time of year I started writing this blog… three years ago. So much has changed since then. Back then Jeremy identified as a femme, bisexual male (who felt a bit like a girl on the inside) and I was completely and totally straight (and deep enough in the closet I could hang out with the lion in Narnia). Now Jeremy’s straight, agender and alternates between masculine and femme while I’m a demi-romantic, pan-romantic asexual. So the fabulous has broadened to include both of us.

Three years ago Jeremy wanted a hair straightener and Jaffa cakes. This year I got them a strand of light up mirrored disco balls and a big stuffed Freddy Fazbear from Five Nights at Freddys. Meanwhile this is what I want for Christmas…

  1. Self-cleaning kitty litter boxes
  2. Self-washing dishes
  3. Magic refilling fridge
  4. Copious amounts of writing time
  5. A huge green space beside my building
  6. Endless supply of free books on my e-reader from my favourite authors
  7. Winning lottery ticket for $15 million dollars
  8. A stay at a tropical resort

Pretty much the only one that can fit under the tree is the lottery ticket. I’m looking forward to seeing it on Christmas morning🙂

This year we’re staying overnight at my parents’ house, which is new for us considering we live a 15 minute drive from their place. It means we can hang out on Christmas Eve and open stockings with them on Christmas morning. Plus it’s more like the Christmas I was used to growing up, when we stayed at my grandparents’ house with a bunch of relatives. I’m looking forward to hanging out with them, Karen and her family, and my cousin and his fiance.

Three years ago Jeremy and I would be watching Doctor Who on Netflix but they’ve taken it off the Canadian line up. I did promise them that I’d watch Supergirl with them as soon as they finish the dishes. I hope the show’s good.

My almost, but not quite, relationship…

I’m curious about something
And feel free to say no … obviously
I’m looking to be in a relationship.

Do you think you and I are a possibility?

To say this was a surprise would be an understatement. Ann* and I had previously only messaged each other sporadically on Facebook (mostly her messaging jokes about Canada) and had never met. And I’m a demiromantic asexual. I need to know someone in order to be in a relationship. And yet… I’d never get to know her if we didn’t talk plus I’d never know if we were compatible if I said no. So…

I’d have to talk to you more. I don’t know you well enough. I wouldn’t rule it out though.

Then we started to talk about politics and camping and food and families. It was the most we’d talked ever. But I still didn’t know her. I mean I’d talked multiple times a day to L for three years before we started dating. How do you get to know someone through awkward conversation?

I messaged her “good morning” the next day and got a three word reply four hours later. The same thing happened that night (except I hadn’t texted good morning at that point). I was beginning to think she and I were on different pages when it came to learning about each other through messaging.

Then came a four am message. Nothing good ever comes from a four am message.

Hey

 I’m sorry for being slow on responding
 I don’t even know how to say this.
 Now that I’m working the day shift, I’ve rediscovered a crush I had on someone
 I’m sorry

What could I say to that beyond “It’s okay”? When L and I broke up I’d needed an Ativan in order to start breathing again but Ann? All I really knew about her was she liked chicken and camping and preferred the term progressive over liberal.

A short while later I was warned by a few people that Ann had a mean streak and could get quite nasty. A short while after that she blocked me when I pointed out it was rude to waste a cashier’s time just because she was mad about a bus delay.

It definitely wasn’t a match made in heaven. It technically wasn’t even a match. But it was interesting while it lasted.

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Me in my winter pjs, just because🙂

*Ann is so not her real name

The little bits of our lives…

“Mom?”

I stopped putting on my shoe. “What Jeremy?”

“While we’re on our walk, could we stop and pick up a computer? It’s only $15. And it’s right here!” They pointed at a circle outline which encompassed a 5 block radius. It was near where we were walking but still a decent hike to even the nearest part of the circle.

I mentally groaned. If they picked up a computer, there was no way we were going to continue on our walk on a gorgeous wooded trail, something I’d been looking forward to all day. And we knew nothing about the computer. I explained that to them. They immediately texted the person who almost immediately texted back. It was right near where we were walking and he was willing to meet us in an hour. The excitement on Jeremy’s face made me agree.

They babbled all the way to the bus and the whole half hour long bus ride then for the whole twenty minute walk too. We got to the man’s apartment and Jeremy’s jaw dropped. It turned out the man’s job was finding deals on lots of computer parts, fixing them up, and selling them on kijiji. Jeremy was in computer heaven.

“This is the $15 computer,” the man said, “and this is the $25 computer.”

It was my jaw dropping turn. I’d picked out a tiny $150 netbook when Jeremy offered to buy  me one (the cheapest computer at the store) but it was very slow… like can’t manage Facebook slow. I needed a new computer… especially a $25 one. It was the beginning of the month so we bought both.

Then came Jeremy’s time to shine. They checked my computer, decided the hard drive was way too small and swapped it for the one in the netbook.

“Don’t worry Mom, it’s not the hard drive that makes it go fast, it’s the CPU and the RAM.”

Then Windows had problems so they tried me with Linux and Ubuntu. I couldn’t use my programs on either so they sorted out Windows and got that reinstalled. Through that whole time of uninstalling and installing, Jeremy kept all my photos, novels, and scrapbooking graphics safe. And now I have a computer that will actually load Facebook.

On Sunday we went down to the lake to watch the full moon rise over the water (and take pictures). Unfortunately it rose over the tiny bit of land to the east but I got a few good shots of the moon rising over rock piles at the shoreline while Jeremy got an amazing short video of the waves rolling in.

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A bit blurry but still cool

Jeremy’s waves video…

We were almost home when I heard the friendly “mow” of a cat greeting us. I immediately replied back as Jeremy said, “Mom! There’s a cat!”

I looked over to see a beautiful grey and white long haired cat walking through the brush beside the path all the way to the fence. It squeezed through and stayed for a moment, long enough for us to note the lack of a collar, then it ran back as a dog drew near.

“Mom, we need to take her home,” Jeremy pleaded. “She doesn’t have a home and she’s going to freeze to death soon.”

I looked at the tiny area of brush and the townhouse complex behind it. “Hon, she has to have a home. She’s got long fur, she’d be covered in burrs if she was abandoned.”

Just then a man and his four little dogs stopped by and looked at the cat behind the fence. “Such a pretty cat,” he mused. “Too bad someone dumped her. She’s been here begging for a few days now. The cat lady had food set up over there…”

He gestured down the path to a section with trees between two buildings. “… but someone keeps setting his dog on them and knocking down their shelter.”

“Fine,” I said to Jeremy. “Let’s take her home.”

We coaxed her out and Jeremy carried her the rest of the block while I debated naming her Mariposa and finally settled on Luna because we’d found her under the full moon.

Once we got her inside, we realized how filthy she was. Brushing turned her into a mixture of tabby and white and she was laid back enough to let me pull burrs off her belly. Even the embedded ones. And she was gorgeous!

luna-under-my-bed

The next morning I got up and started calling. The vet clinic, the humane society, animal control, a local animal rescue. Then we hauled her over to the clinic and… beep… they found a microchip. She turned out to be Tarzan, a 1 1/2 year old male (I also stink at sexing cats). Tarzan had been rehomed nearby because of his extreme laid back behaviour. Behaviour which allowed their puppy to shake him by the neck. He’d jumped off his new owner’s 6th floor balcony and, of course, couldn’t get back home after that. His original owners live an hour away and came that day to pick him up… despite us being in the middle of a power failure that engulfed half our city. We’re talking traffic jams for miles. But he’s safe now and back home. Smudge looked for him for a day.

And I have another frog. This one is an albino African clawed frog. He’s quiet during the day but I can watch him swimming while I drift off to sleep at night. He had a sibling who escaped this morning and was found by the kittens. He was alive when I found him but died about an hour later from his injuries. My remaining frog is named Lucky. He’s not nearly as adventurous but will hopefully outlive all my other frogs. Plus I have a filter now, which will help Lucky’s breathing and my sleep.

I still stink at endings so here’s Lucky (in the back) and Not So Lucky making jazz hands in the front.

albino-clawed-frogs

Depression…

It clings like tar, oozing over my toes, coating my feet. Each step is ponderous… laborious. My legs burn with exhaustion… my lungs strain. And the tar climbs. Trapping my shins, encasing my fingers. It weighs down my mind.

Panic revs but it’s a futile fear, akin to a hamster running frantically in a wheel. My thoughts might be going as fast as they can but they’re not getting anywhere. My heart trembles… and it hurts.

What did I do today?

I made my bed and brushed my teeth. I nearly cried but I got my clothes on. I toasted an english muffin for breakfast and had a vegan “cheese” sandwich for lunch. I took one of our cats to the vet two blocks away. I almost, but didn’t, cry again over the thought of making dinner. A seven hour long power failure solved that one. I made another “cheese” sandwich. Then I sat. I didn’t have the energy for anything else.

Lazy, my mind tells me. Lazy, my body agrees.

I curl up into a ball with BunBun and agree with them both.

bunny

Remembrance Day revisited…

CN: discussion of violence and prejudice

I stand on my balcony and can see Lake Ontario. On a clear day we stand on the shore and look across the lake at Buffalo. This has never scared me until now.

I went online yesterday and my news feed was flooded with stories of hatred and violence. A friend of mine has an openly gay ten year old who was terrified to go to school… to the point of stress vomiting. He’s been taunted since kindergarten, this fear is something new.

Another friend of mine had a pick up truck, with a poorly shored confederate flag, nearly hit him at high noon. The driver stopped and jumped out screaming “fucking faggot” before heading into the nearby post office. My friend wasn’t sure who he was more scared for, himself or the solitary black woman operating the office. Luckily both were fine.

After my friend posted, one of his friends chimed in to say she’d just had passengers tell her to flash them in order to get a tip. Pro tip, that’s not how taxis work. But maybe that’s how they work in Trump’s new United States… if the driver is female and the passengers are male.

Yet more friends are panicking about getting IUDs inserted before January 20th or getting married before that time. One’s researching nursery schools in Canada while others half joke about marrying a Canadian citizen.

I’d expected the hatred and violence to start slow and increase. Instead it poured out as if a flood gate was opened, starting with a bottle bashed over a gay man’s head because this is Trump’s America now. It moved on to school children drawing and shouting “build a wall” while their classmates cried. To high school students scribbling racial slurs and graffiti about white pride. To grown men harassing and groping women because it’s their right under Trump.

And, through it all, Trump stayed silent.

Well, not exactly silent. He complained about people being mean to him on Twitter and placed Ben Carson, the man who thinks the pyramids were grain silos, into the position of the head of the Department of Education. The masses will now become even more uneducated but they’ll know the Bible right down to every last hate filled corner. I don’t think the more positive and altruistic verses will have a place in Trump’s world.

I’m terrified for my friends. For my black and brown friends and my gay and pan friends, for my friends who “don’t pass” and my friends who do, for my friends who hold their LGBTQ children close and hope for the next four years. And I’m scared for those of us living in the US’s shadow, because if Trump starts lobbing bombs, just because they’re there, that border is not going to hold back retaliatory radiation.

On this cold and quiet Remembrance Day, I feel like history is repeating itself.

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Poppies under the full moon

Be gentle with yourself…

Dear American friends,

Please be gentle with yourself today. You, as always, have the same inherent worth and dignity of every human being. You are valued, needed, and wanted no matter how you feel right now.

It might seem like it but the whole world is not against you. Yes, Trump got in but almost the same amount of people voted against him as for him. You are not alone.

Now is the time for grass roots organizations. Talk to friends on Facebook and form groups. Join your local PFLAG Meet with friends and queer up the PTA. If you have a gender creative child, make or join a gender creative playgroup (sign up and fill out the application in the link). Four years is a long time but it is not forever. You will make it through. You are stronger than you think.

If you are suicidal, please, please get help. No matter what, there is someone who cares. I care. I have a whole list of resources on my resource page that encompass the world. There’s even a texting option if you can’t bring yourself to talk.

Practise some self care. Have a shower, wash some dishes, have something to eat (even if it’s just cake). Brush your teeth, go for a walk around the block, colour a picture. Do something that makes your heart happy.

I am so sorry you’re having to go through this. Sadly, the idiots who voted for Trump will not be the ones dealing with the results (for the most part). But, hopefully, they’ll open their eyes over the next four years and vote better next time. Good luck, best wishes, and stay safe. You matter.

Love, Michelle
secretmom@email.com