The good stuff…

Jeremy loves Minecraft and plays it regularly but zie never plays on servers. Zir favourite thing in Minecraft is designing houses; huge homes with floor to ceiling windows, giant kitchens, and roof top views of the ocean. People take great delight in destroying Jeremy’s houses when zie plays online, which is why zie plays single player on our computer. Now Jeremy belongs to a private server* made solely for trans youths and, for the first time, Jeremy and zir house have been safe.

I wasn't kidding when I said huge.

Jeremy’s house. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was huge.

kitchen

I think this is the smallest kitchen Jeremy’s made. Zie has at least a hundred mods downloaded to our desktop and zir kitchen usually has chandeliers. clocks, granite counter tops, polished wood tables, and double sinks. I’m guessing zir mods don’t work on the server. Zir second kitchen looked similar to this except it was underground.

ocean view

And, as always, zie has a gorgeous ocean view. Jeremy’s next development will be an ocean side pool.

town view

And zir view of the town, complete with not only the trans pride flag but a house with a pride flag window.

I am so glad Jeremy’s been able to join this server. Zie’s not only enjoying designing zir house, zie’s also been taking great pleasure in creating a shared mine and a chest full of freebies to give away to the other youths. Meanwhile I’m grateful to the person who put the time and effort into creating this server as it’s often Jeremy’s only social interaction.

This weekend was different though. This weekend Jeremy went to CLUUE, a Unitarian Universalist Youth event based around the murder mystery game Clue. Zie was overwhelmed at first as there were 51 youths (Jeremy was expecting around 10 to 15) but once the popcorn came out, zie relaxed and was fine. It helps that the UU gatherings ask for preferred pronouns and have multi-gender sleeping arrangements. Jeremy headed off with zir black sparkly pjs, a floral pillowcase and no worries.

And this Thursday is our monthly PFLAG meeting so zie’ll get to spend a full hour with other trans youths :) I get to hang out with other parents too. Plus there’ll be pizza and pop which is a huge sell for a teenager.

I have no real news about my Dad. He was discharged from the hospital on Friday evening then was admitted again last night. The doctors are reasonably sure he has some sort of infection although multiple tests can’t find it. He’s on six different antibiotics ranging from broad spectrum ones to ones targeted specifically for things like lung infections and c diff (which thankfully came back negative). He is doing a lot better now and hopefully will continue to improve.

 

* This server is only available for youths whose parents belong to the Parents of Transgender Children support group. If you wish for your child to be a member of this server, you can request admittance once you belong to the parenting group. A link to the parenting group can be found on my resource page.

Valentine’s Day…

presents

I woke on Valentine’s Day to a wrapped present from Emma, neatly tied with my favourite colour ribbon (iridescent) and taped with Emma’s favourite tape (skulls). She gave me a new journal to write in and a gift card for Chapters-Indigo (Canada’s biggest bookstore… damn, I can’t write that without thinking of the World’s Biggest Bookstore, which no longer exists). She also baked cupcakes, including a bright purple one for Jeremy. As you can tell by zir face, zie found it to be delicious.

I baked cupcakes too and found the world’s easiest vegan cake recipe ever. Seriously, it’s one box of white cake mix (check the ingredients for milk) and 12oz of 7-Up. Combine those two ingredients and whisk them together. That’s it. It was seriously yummy, tasting a lot like angel food cake. I might or might not have eaten most of the cupcakes on my own plus licked out the bowl.

There is absolutely no news about my Dad. He got discharged last night because he was doing so much better then went back to the hospital this morning via ambulance. Beyond that we have no idea. He’s suffering from fever, dehydration, low blood pressure, exhaustion, and confusion – obviously something’s going on. Meanwhile his blood and urine cultures are clear and nothing showed up on his CT scan. His heart test (EKG maybe?) was clear as well. He’s doing just good enough to stay out of the ICU so they’re keeping him in the emergency room, which provides more attention. I’m supposed to be singing with my UU choir right now but my heart is just not in a singing mood right now so I’m going to watch Doctor Who with Jeremy instead.

I had enough batter left over to make a single layer heart shaped cake. I figure the two of us are going to decimate it tonight.

Falling stars…

When I was a little girl my Dad was the strongest man on earth and the tallest one too. He’d take my sisters and I for swing rides and taught us how to ride bikes, swim, and skate. All three of us skated like hockey players because that’s how Dad learned. He showed us grooves in the solid rock underneath us while hiking, explaining how that rock was scraped by a glacier thousands of years earlier. And he was always willing to give piggy backs and airplane rides.

Every car ride with my Dad would catch him singing, “Me and my motor-sicle” because he wanted a motorcycle, which was totally impractical for a family with three kids. When he spoke, knives never had a silent “k”, same with scissors and its “c”. One time my parents were visiting friends in England and were taken to a fancy restaurant, the kind where waiters roam the hall in tuxedos while offering guests items on silver platters. One such waiter approached Dad.

“Sir? Would you care to take a leek?”

“Why yes,” Dad cheerfully replied. “Could you tell me where the little boy’s room is?”

And he routinely claimed to be perfect, often while singing “Oh lord it’s hard to be humble…

In elementary school I had to write an essay about my hero. I wrote about my Dad and how he got a call to try out for the farm team for the Montreal Canadiens except he’d hitch-hiked across Canada and was busy fighting forest fires in BC at the time. Dad’s lived an interesting life.

I was heading off to college when Dad decided to start his own business, showing us it’s never to late to chase your dreams. My Mom organized a combined surprise birthday and retirement party for his 60th birthday and invited all his friends, figuring we’d end up with a reasonable amount of guests. Every single person happily accepted the invitation, meaning we had seventy people stuffed inside a four bedroom suburban home. It was beyond crowded. Dad loved it. Somewhere I’ve got a picture of Jeremy wandering around the party with a lampshade on zir head, showing zie’s definitely related to zir grandfather.

Dad immediately began volunteering with Meals on Wheels, driving a small community bus, and transporting seniors to medical appointments. Even so he had more time than he knew what to do with. Karen lived two towns away back then. She’d be busy with her toddlers only to find Dad at the front door. He’d gotten bored and biked over. Could he get a drive home? Finally he got a full time job driving a school bus, which cut back on his biking time (and dramatically cut down on Karen’s impromptu taxi service).

This Christmas was quiet as my parents took a train across Canada to spend the holiday with Amy and her family. They had a good visit but Dad started feeling bad while he was there and his Crohns was upgraded to severe once he got home. He’s since been put on steroids and an anti-rejection drug usually given to organ transplant recipients.

Dad’s 71st birthday was on February 1st, a date he eagerly looked forward to…

calendar

Emma, Jeremy, Mark and I all showed up for dinner as did Karen and her family. Dad picked out angel food cupcakes for his cake and happily opened up all his presents. We left as he settled in to watch football. He was tired and sore but otherwise fine.

Then came yesterday. I called Mom to let her know I’d hurt my wrist at work and was going to see a doctor, half hoping she’d volunteer to drive me home. She worriedly informed me that Dad was feverish and exhausted. He had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, which relieved me as I strongly felt he needed to get checked out. Karen stopped by and convinced Mom to take him to the hospital. It took both of them to get him into the car. He was discharged several hours later with nothing wrong but “mild dehydration”.

I got off work today to find a message from Karen saying Dad’s in the hospital. Once again he was feverish, exhausted, and incoherent. This time Mom called an ambulance and he was rushed to the hospital where blood tests show no infection. The doctor on call was all set to release him again when my Mom asked what she should do tonight when he wakes up feverish and delirious. This prompted another meeting. Thankfully Dad’s gastroenterologist stepped in and had him admitted. Now we wait for more tests and some different medications.

And now I sit here wondering when my Dad stopped singing.

I’m going to need a crowbar and forklift…

Jeremy went to school willingly on Monday, which not only floored me but surprised all my coworkers. I was thrilled with this… until I came home. I’d barely walked in the front door when Jeremy informed me zie’d gotten so fed up with being misgendered, zie started calling the teacher and EAs “he” and “him” to see how they’d like it. It turns out they didn’t like it at all.

One EA told Jeremy that she didn’t mind at all, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Zir teacher complained that she was promised zie wouldn’t make a scene if they forgot the right pronouns. Jeremy informed her that was supposed to be an occasional lapse, not non-stop for half a year. The teacher then went on to complain about Jeremy’s rudeness and told zir that she was going to write a letter to me about it. Then she sent zir out of the classroom ten minutes early sans letter. I figure she had second thoughts about writing me an angry note about being misgendered. Good choice on her part because I’d have either laughed hysterically or put that letter someplace letters should never go.

The irony of the whole situation is that Jeremy figures zie used the wrong pronouns for about five minutes.

I half joked on Facebook a few days ago that I was going to need a crowbar and forklift to get Jeremy out to school today. I could have used them because zie didn’t go. Jeremy was positive they were going to be mean to zir, which made zir anxious. Jeremy uses electronics to calm down, meanwhile they’re constantly fighting zir on having “gadgets” in the classroom.

There’s a meeting with the school board tomorrow night called Families Engaged, where they want to hear from LGBTQ families (either LGBTQ parents with children in the school board or parents with LGBTQ children). Emma and I are going and I’ll be sharing what’s happening with Jeremy. I also have a meeting with zir school on Tuesday. Jeremy’s not back in school until Wednesday so hopefully we can get something sorted out before zie returns; although considering my track record with this school I’m not hopeful.

My speech on gender diversity and raising a trans kid…

Wow that’s a long title.

Since I’m nowhere near talented enough to change Jeremy’s real name in a video, I’m just going to post the transcript here. Pretend I’m talking quietly at a podium while I shift nervously and fiddle with my hair. I was wearing turquoise if that helps :)

 *******************************

There’s so much I didn’t know when my kids were growing up, especially when it came to gender. I look back at Jeremy when zie was little. Jeremy was equally happy with dinky cars and Polly Pockets, which was fine with me. I grew up in a family which believed toys were for all kids. When Jeremy was four, zie got a little toy shaving kit for Christmas and the first thing zie did was hop into the bathtub to shave zir legs. I figured that was because zie didn’t have a Dad at home and explained that boys shave their faces, not their legs. Jeremy looked a bit surprised but followed my instructions. Actually, the first time Jeremy shaved once puberty hit, Jeremy shaved zir legs but by then zie wasn’t using a Bob the Builder kit. Zie borrowed my razor instead; I quickly got zir one of zir own. And there was dress up time, which always consisted of Jeremy getting dressed up in Emma’s clothes, never the reverse. Emma would refer to zir as Jemmy and would pick out the clothes she thought would suit zir the best. Both kids loved this game.

I think Jeremy was around eight or nine years old when zie saw some words written on the bus shelter wall and wanted to know what they meant. The words were:

I wish I was a girl.

I had no idea what to say let alone where to start. It was a big topic that I didn’t understand very well. And Jeremy was standing there watching me expectantly, positive I had the answer. I decided to start with empathy so I said, “You know how you look like boy on the outside and feel like a boy on the inside…” then stopped when I saw Jeremy’s confused expression. Zie shook zir head and said “no”.

I look back now and marvel at how blind I was but then I simply figured I’d screwed up my explanation. I went on to explain that most people look like a boy on the outside and feel like a boy on the inside or look like a girl on the outside and feel like a girl on the inside but sometimes it’s the opposite. When people look like a boy on the outside and feel like a girl on the inside, or vice versa, it’s called transgender. Jeremy listened intently then was heartbroken that we couldn’t find the person who wrote the words so they’d know they weren’t alone.

Throughout this time, Jeremy would ask how I knew that zie would grow up to be a man. I knew zie’d been bullied at school with kids calling zir a he-she and I was well aware that grown adults were telling Jeremy zie needed to “be a man” so I chalked zir questions up to bullying. I assured Jeremy that zie didn’t need to do anything special in order to be a man, zie just needed to grow up. That zie could be a man and still love the colour pink and long hair and glitter. Each time Jeremy seemed reassured by my response.

A couple of years ago I became Facebook friends with Lenny. One of the first things Lenny told me is zie’s transgender and identifies between male and female, using the pronouns zie and zir. I’d had no idea people could be anything but male or female so this was a surprise. Lenny lives in England so zie’d never know if I was using the right pronouns or not but it didn’t seem fair to use the wrong ones. I insisted the kids use zir pronouns as well.

It wasn’t until last year that Jeremy began to show signs of discomfort with using male pronouns. Zie got sent home from school one day for arguing with zir teacher about the words boy and girl being opposites. Jeremy insisted they weren’t because you could feel like both a boy and a girl. The teacher argued she was talking about language and not gender then persisted in telling Jeremy zie was wrong. In the spring, Jeremy asked for the teacher to explain more pronouns than male and female and the teacher refused, claiming that she could only teach “invented” pronouns if there was a trans student in the class and then only the pronouns that student was using. Jeremy wasn’t out so I backed down. Zie didn’t come out until the end of summer.

Fifty-seven percent of unsupported trans youths attempt suicide. That statistic drops down to four percent when youths have a supportive family. I’ll do anything to make Jeremy feel supported, up to and including waving pom poms. Jeremy assures me that’s not necessary.

The hard part is how often and regularly Jeremy gets misgendered. When I talked to Jeremy’s school, their biggest concern was whether Jeremy’s gender identity and pronouns were going to be a distraction in the classroom. They use zir pronouns in official documents but call Jeremy he and him. And I can count on one hand the number of people in real life who consistently use zir pronouns. It’s so frustrating because people just don’t seem to understand how important this is to Jeremy. If they’d use the right pronouns in front of zir, even once, they’d see what a difference it makes. Give it a try, they’re not hard to use.

Thank you.

Hidden in plain sight…

On Christmas morning Jeremy eagerly opened a big bag from under the tree. The present slid out and zir face shone with joy when zie saw the picture on the box and the gift behind the cellophane panel.

“You got me a girl’s car!” zie cheerfully exclaimed.

When Emma and Mark showed up a few hours later, zie showed them zir new purple car then said casually, “I like it even though Mom got me a girl car.” The difference between zir first spontaneous words and zir calculated thoughts later break my heart.

A few days ago we were walking through our soon to be closed Target. Jeremy looked down one aisle then pointed and said, “Look at that picture!”

liked picture

 

“Do you want it?” I asked a lot more casually than I felt. What I really felt like saying was, “You pointed out something you like, in public, that’s aimed for girls. I have no money. Let’s get it anyways!”

Jeremy immediately shook zir head. “No. It wouldn’t suit the theme of my bedroom.”

I wasn’t aware zir room had any sort of theme but dropped the subject. Jeremy picked out a different picture at Dollarama. Tell me this isn’t the sweetest thing ever for a seventeen year old to pick out (ignore the brown zig zags)…

chosen picture

Seriously that’s an aww moment right there.

Then came Sunday. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on the blog yet but I was one of four speakers giving a talk on gender diversity at our UU congregation (and the only cis-gender speaker at that). I was nervous almost to the point of hyperventilating, meanwhile Emma dug through boxes and bags of clothes to get dressed, and Jeremy wandered around in pjs. Our ride was picking us up in less than ten minutes and not only had I not practiced my speech, I hadn’t even managed to print it yet. The printer suddenly couldn’t find my phone and claimed I couldn’t print from my netbook because some other computer was waiting to print. I pictured going up in front of everyone then having to wake up my computer and log in before getting to my speech.

“I know how to get your phone to print,” Jeremy said as zie gestured for my phone. We had to be downstairs in less than a minute and zie was still in zir pjs. But if it worked… I handed over the phone. It worked.

“Thank you,” I said gratefully, “that’s going to be a huge help. Now go get dressed. Why not put on your gummy bear earrings while you’re at it.” Zie’d have time considering Emma was in the washroom.

Jeremy’s okay floated behind zir as zie hurried to zir room.

We were on the way to church when I realized Jeremy was still wearing zir plain purple studs.

“I forgot,” zie said casually.

Zie didn’t look at me but I looked at zir. Plain black coat, the greyest purple t-shirt zie owns, black track pants, loose hair, and black runners. A quick sniff confirmed zie’d skipped perfume as well. We were meeting my Mom at church then going to my parents’ house for a family dinner and celebration of my Dad’s 71st birthday. They all love zir but refuse to use the right pronouns. To them Jeremy is their grandson, their nephew, their big male cousin. And Jeremy reciprocates by hiding zirself.

We were seated before the service when Jeremy tried to hand me zir spare cellphone.

“I’ve got it set to record sound,” zie hissed in a stage whisper. “That way you can use it for… you know…” Zir eyes flicked toward my Mom, who doesn’t know about this blog.

“Hon, that’s very nice of you to offer but I’m going to be using your real name in the speech. I’ll post the video on Facebook and just share the text of the speech on the blog.”

Zie nodded reluctantly and put away the phone. The offer was touching though.

The speech was nerve wracking, although everyone assured me afterward that I sounded just fine and not even a bit nervous.

One of the other speakers wandered over to compliment me on my speech. “Do you have another child?” she asked curiously. Her gaze wandered over Emma and Jeremy.

“No, just the two,” I replied. “I was speaking about Jeremy.” She looked surprised. Jeremy sat quietly in zir seat, fiddling around with zir phone. It felt like zie was hidden in plain sight.

That night Jeremy looked around zir bedroom then mused aloud, “You know… I actually don’t think I have a theme for my room. I guess anything could fit.” Talk about a cheering moment.

Today Jeremy put on zir dangly gummy bear earrings and sprayed zirself liberally with perfume before heading out to counseling… in my coat and zir bright rainbow scarf from Lenny. This evening zie headed out to Dollarama with Emma and borrowed a bright white, blue, and purple coat from her while complaining about how boring and bland zir coat is. The coat was a bit too small. I looked at zir disappointed expression and tried to zip the jacket a bit harder. The kid couldn’t bend if zie tried but the jacket was closed and Jeremy was thrilled. I really do need to get zir a brightly coloured coat.

I took a closer look at the Dollarama picture and realized it would be no big deal to take the background off and put on a new one… and scrapbooking stores sell lovely glittery purple sheets. I assured Jeremy this would in no way change the actual words on the picture (my heart melts) and zie agrees that would look fabulous.

(I’ll post the text of the speech tomorrow once I’ve changed the names).