Fear…

“Mom? I can’t do it. Please don’t make me go to school tomorrow.”

Jeremy looked up at me from zir bed, where zie lay cocooned in blankets; eyes wide and body tense. I sighed.

“How about you go tomorrow and miss Thursday,” I suggested. Thursday was the provincial literacy testing day and most of the school would be absent. “You’ll be fine. I know you can do it.”

Zie nodded slightly but zir expression wasn’t very hopeful. I wasn’t hopeful either although I tried not to show it. Instead I kissed zir goodnight and headed off to bed.

This morning I got myself ready then went to wake Jeremy up… then woke zir up again (and again). I could see actual consciousness the third time around and with it came zir anxiety.

“Mom. I can’t go to school today. I’m so dizzy. I don’t think I can stand up. Can you please call the school and tell them I won’t be there?” Jeremy’s voice was shaking by the end.

I patted zir shoulder and promised I would call. Then I promised myself I’d call our family doctor and make Jeremy an appointment. And I did. For the 23rd of April… the earliest appointment available. His receptionist did put Jeremy on the list for cancellations.

Every single week I have friends share pictures of yet another transgender teen who’s committed suicide. The latest was a young man who was popular, well supported, crowned home-coming king, and a known activist. Several people commented on how he’d spoken to and encouraged their own children. He’d been an amazing kid, a real inspiration.

I listened to Jeremy play zir video game while watching the latest episode of The Young Turks. Two weeks ago we were walking home and Jeremy commented that if zie died, all zie’d be remembered for was playing video games and being trans. I assured zir that if I’d died at 17 years old, I’d only be remembered as that quiet girl who reads a lot of books; that zie has years to grow into talents and memories. I read through the article and wished I had a pair of handcuffs so I could clip Jeremy to me and keep zir safe. Jeremy couldn’t kill zirself if I was right there 24/7.

But that’s not living (not to mention using the washroom and showering would be beyond awkward). And so I head off to work knowing that Jeremy’s going to be home alone. Reminding zir to take out the recycling while I’m away… and hoping zie at least remembers to eat and change out of zir pyjamas.

I panic every time I call home after work and zie doesn’t answer. I know full well Jeremy loves to crank zir music and will call back as soon as zie sees the “missed call” light flashing but there’s always that cold shiver pushing out from the pit of my stomach… inching up my spine to tap relentlessly against my brain. And it doesn’t stop until Jeremy’s Doctor Who ringtone plays.

Tonight Jeremy’s at zir UU Youth Group, happily eating nachos and discussing censorship with like minded peers. Tomorrow night we’ll be at PFLAG where zie’ll be eating pizza and chatting with other trans teens. And in between I’ll be at work and zie’ll be alone. And I’ll take another deep breath and hope to hear from zir on the way home.

kitty cuddling

Jeremy’s first concert…

You know what they say about the best laid plans…

I had everything all planned. Jeremy was freshly showered and zir outfit was waiting on zir dresser, as far away from the cats as I could manage (while still keeping it in the apartment). My morning schedule was going to be hectic; involving shopping, getting cash-back for laundry money, hitting the gym while the laundry washed, then going upstairs for a shower. But it was doable and would leave us enough time to paint nails, put on makeup, etc before heading out for an early dinner.

My first sign of trouble was the odd sort of gurgle our toilet gave when I flushed. The slight trickle of water when I went to wash my hands was my second. I called the superintendent and was informed the water was off until 5pm. No shower… no laundry… and no gym either (unless I wanted to go to the concert smelling like a warthog in August).

I’ve lost just over ten pounds since January (and three inches around my waist) which leaves me with exactly one pair of pants that fit. They were at the bottom of my laundry basket. Emma lent me some clothes and was subsequently alarmed by the result; she kept saying it looked good but wasn’t a “Mom outfit”…

Michelle's outfitI figure the experience was good for her; I’m not just a Mom. Plus the outfit looked great with my sparkly shoes…

my sparkly shoes

Then Jeremy came out of zir room in stained track pants and an old grey t-shirt. The legs of zir good pants “felt funny” rubbing against zir leg hairs. Emma suggested skin cream and I suggested shaving (since Jeremy shaved zir legs consistently until last fall) but Jeremy insisted neither option would work. Jeremy’s autistic and it grew quickly apparent zie was heading straight for a meltdown. We live only a block away from Value Village and while we didn’t have time to shop, having Jeremy attend the concert naked wasn’t an option. We walked out the door less than an hour before we had to leave for the concert. My plans for the day were completely blown.

Like usual Jeremy headed straight for the men’s department, where zie did a quick visual scan of the area and found nothing. Not that anything can be found while speed walking and scowling. Then we headed over to the ladies department where we immediately found two pairs of pants and six purple shirts… and thankfully an assortment of shoppers who smiled at Jeremy as we wandered through the racks. The jeans were only a bit too big  and the shirt fit perfectly…

Jeremy found wifi

We were walking into the back door of our building as Emma’s boyfriend Mark pulled into the front parking lot. Jeremy quickly changed and we went running back out, forgetting Emma’s cigarettes in our rush. My original plan was to be at The Old Spaghetti Factory by 4pm, instead we were stuck in traffic somewhere on our way to Mississauga, the correct turn off slowly fading in the distance. We were later than I planned but thankfully early enough to actually eat.

This was Mark’s first time at The Old Spaghetti Factory. He was surprised by the antique carousel we were seated beside…

Old Spaghetti Factory view from table

… then I took him to see the stained glass mural of the Toronto Blue Jays…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jeremy hurried over to join us and I overheard one boy ask, “Is that a boy or a girl?” I don’t think Jeremy heard him though and we left right away so I have no idea what anyone said in response. Hopefully an adult said something positive. Hopefully. It wasn’t me this time. I wasn’t letting anything spoil Jeremy’s night out.

We all plowed through dinner. I even paid while we ate in the hopes of speeding things up a bit. Poor Jeremy was disappointed we were going to leave before our ice cream but I promised we’d stay for ice cream on zir birthday and we’d eat in the antique elevator (much to zir delight).

Emma and Mark dropped us off in the lineup before leaving to get a replacement package of cigarettes. Emma figured it would be fine because the line was long…

This doesn't show the back and forth line in front of the theatre.

This doesn’t show the zig-zagging line in front of the theatre.

…and the doors weren’t opening for another 20 minutes anyway. I texted her several times to say the line was moving and to hurry. The last time was to say we’d just gone through security. That was when they arrived. Emma was able to reach over the fence to get their tickets at least (with the help of a security guard). I watched them go to the back of the line and hoped they wouldn’t be too far from the stage.

This theatre was unlike any I’d ever been to. We walked into a huge open room which, judging by the wooden floor, was built for dances and not concerts. A stage had been set up at the far end and the room was already crowded, even though the line behind us was bigger than the one in the picture above. The room was as packed as a delayed bus at rush hour. I couldn’t pull my cellphone out of my pocket without pulling the hair of the girl in front of me (my apologies if that’s why she moved). It didn’t take long for Jeremy to realize the VIP space above us had actual seats.

“Wait,” he blurted. “You have to pay extra for seats now? What are they going to do next, charge us for oxygen?”

The lady beside us started laughing.

We waited for an hour and a half, listening to canned music and sweating. Jeremy at least had zir electronics to fiddle with, which kept zir quiet and calm…

Jeremy waiting for Pentatonix

And then the concert started. The group was amazing and we were close enough to the front for me to get some good shots…

Pentatonix3

In the interest of not loading each one separately.

A quick photo montage in the interest of not loading each one separately.

I love having optical zoom on my camera, especially since my usual view of the stage looked like this…

Cellphones... everywhere...

Cellphones… everywhere…

Once the long haired girl left, I ended up behind a young man who I figure might possibly be Mitch‘s biggest fan. He was so excited when the show started and yelled “I love you Mitch!” regularly while making heart shapes…

Mitch's biggest fan

… it was really sweet :)

Poor Jeremy found the outright screaming overwhelming but otherwise enjoyed the concert. I think what impressed zir the most was the bathroom attendant.

“Mom, they’re paying someone to sit inside the washroom and hand us paper towels. Can I give him a tip?”

Zie listened to Pentatonix the whole way home.

Our view as we left the theatre.

Our view as we left the theatre.

It wasn’t about the apple juice…

The call display on the work phone showed Jeremy’s school. I sighed and picked up the phone. “National Fast Food chain. How may I help you?” I said cheerfully.

“May I please speak to Michelle?” The voice was quiet, almost hesitant. This definitely wasn’t the principal.

“This is Michelle,” I replied.

“This is Ms. Teacher. Jeremy’s being sent home now. He was in the other room today, helping make a meal, when he was asked to pour juice for the class. He refused then started swearing at the teacher and the EA’s. I wasn’t there, so I didn’t see it, but when they asked him to get out the apple juice for his classmates, he told them all to fuck off.”

I thanked her for letting me know and informed her that zie’d be missing most of next week due to counselling and the concert.

“Oh oops, zie,” she said with a slight chuckle. “I meant to say that.”

Maybe she did but chances are if she was using zir pronouns regularly she wouldn’t misgender Jeremy every single time we talk. It’s been half a year now since our meeting regarding pronouns, that’s plenty of time to get used to zir pronouns.

I waited about 15 minutes before I called Jeremy to give zir time to get out of school. Then I listened as the phone rang and rang. Yesterday Jeremy informed me that zir teacher was told Jeremy’d been sent home due to attitude (I still have no idea what happened) but that zie’d been told to go to the AR room for quiet time. Which means no one knew where zie was for at least an hour. Had there been a similar mix up today? Then zie answered and let me know zie was on the way home.

“What happened?” I asked cautiously before bracing myself for the coming onslaught of words. When Jeremy’s upset, zir words tumble out like a tidal wave of tangled emotions and thoughts.

The first go around, all I caught were the words “… told me my gender was a choice”.

“So this wasn’t about the apple juice,” I commented then asked zir to tell me again.

Once again they divided the class by boys and girls and served them “ladies first”. Jeremy complained that was sexist and they should serve the men first sometimes too. They started out telling zir that they almost never serve the girls first, something I know isn’t true because Jeremy complains regularly about their “ladies first” comments. Then one of the educational assistants told Jeremy repeatedly that she didn’t know why he was complaining because he’d chosen to be in the middle so would never be first no matter what. That was when zie got told to serve the juice. Of course nothing before the juice was deemed relevant to share with me (or presumably Jeremy’s primary teacher).

By this time I was over halfway home and so was Jeremy. I made plans to meet zir at a nearby grocery store. It was freezing out and I figured if I went home first, I simply was not going to get back out again.

“Mom? Can you please be ready when I get there? I’m going to need the biggest hug ever.” Jeremy sounded plaintive and fairly close to tears. I promised zir I would.

I stood at the back of the store watching for zir, my head turning every time the doors opened and someone walked down an aisle. Nope, that was a balding, middle age man… and an elderly woman… and a young woman… no, wait, that was Jeremy. I hurried over and held out my arms. Jeremy hugged me back as hard as zie could. Zie was weepy and quiet for the rest of the afternoon.

At least Jeremy’s got the weekend to recuperate and I’ve got the weekend to work on yet another letter. This time I’m requesting that every EA and teacher directly responsible for Jeremy has to read the school board’s official document on transgender students. Something has got to change.

This is a “no closet” family…

I say this on a regular basis simply because we have three cats (now four since Emma moved in with Tiny Tiger) so I’m often fishing a cat out of a closet before shutting the door. It’s said as a joke but also as a reminder to Jeremy that no one in this family needs to hide themselves. This includes me.

So… I’m reasonably sure I’m asexual. So far the only people who know are Lenny, Captain Glittertoes, and my teenagers.

And, well, now almost 18 hundred more people.

*waves sheepishly*

This is my story. I make no claims to be average. Your mileage may vary.

My Mom and I started reading the Clan of the Cave Bear series when I was a teenager. We found the first book enthralling but were less than impressed by the rest. The first book was a fascinating insight into what life might be like in a neanderthal clan while the later books slowly devolved into what Ayla and her boyfriend(s) enjoyed the most between the sheets. At first I worried that my discomfort with the author’s highly detailed pages of sex meant something was wrong with me but my Mom’s equal discomfort relieved me. We gave each other warnings of which pages to skip. Eventually it felt like I was skipping half the book so I dropped the series. My Mom gave up a short while later.

The first “sex dreams” I remember involved meeting a young unknown man who was kind, gentle, and assured me that he was so small I wouldn’t feel anything. I never told anyone about those dreams (until now). I knew they were weird. I also knew simply not dating wasn’t an option a) because I wanted the close connection of being with someone and b) because that would prove all my bullies right, that I was too stupid/weird/ugly to ever find someone.

I didn’t start dating until I was in college. My ex-husband was introduced to me by his mother and I was attracted by his geeky shyness. He gave me flowers on our first date then gave himself an entirely too audible pep talk on holding my hand. His awkwardness was endearing. Too bad it didn’t last.

Thanks to a medical condition called vaginismus, it took us months to consummate our relationship. I’m sure my ex thought he’d died and gone to heaven as I tried multiple positions in the hopes of finding one that would be equal to (or hopefully better) than chocolate. I never did. I loved the physical closeness and the feeling of skin on skin; otherwise I simply enjoyed his enjoyment of the experience. My eventual favourite position was one that felt, to me, like the world’s closest hug. As our marriage deteriorated, my ex began complaining about my lack of interest in trying new things; telling me the different things his ex’s were willing to do. That was not any sort of encouragement, bedroom wise at least. It was just another example of why I was no longer interested in him in any way.

When we broke up I figured I’d meet a new man and fall in love. Maybe we’d meet at the park, bringing our mutual kids there to play, or chatting on the corner while waiting for a parade to start. I never did meet anyone though. Sometimes I’d think about trying online dating but would panic and push the thought aside. Sometimes I’d tie creating a profile to dieting, promising myself that I’d make an account once I’d lost some weight. Then I’d promptly gain more. Occasionally I’d dream about meeting a wonderful man. I’d picture a first meeting at a coffee shop with us finding common ground in geekery and books. Then I’d move through our imaginary dating until we reached the bedroom. At that point my mind drew a curtain around the whole thing, saying we’d “do stuff that felt good”. Yes I censored my own (not really) erotic daydreams simply because I couldn’t think of anything that would end up with the mind blowing “better than chocolate” sex that people talk about. The best I could do was figure he might guide me to what everyone else said was amazing.

I didn’t really start wondering about asexuality until a few months ago when I was talking to someone (who shall remain nameless but is most definitely not Voldemort). She mentioned offhand that if she has trouble sleeping, she just masturbates to orgasm and that relaxes her enough to doze off.

I stared at her in complete surprise then blurted, “Wait. You can do that?”

Most of the time, touching down there* is about as interesting as rubbing my elbow and produces much the same results. About once or twice a year I’ll wake up with a full bladder and an urgent need to relieve myself in more ways than one. It’s nice because it feels good (although still not as good as a good quality chocolate**). It’s also a freaking pain in the backside because then I’m stuck on the toilet for ten minutes waiting to pee. I can think of a lot better things to do at 3am than sit in the dark on a cold toilet while my cats alternate between crying at the closed door or sitting in the crack of the door playing Gandolf “you shall not pass” with the other kitties.

It took me a month before I broached the topic of mastubation and sensation to a secret group for mothers with mental illness. I was reassured that there was a wide range of normal, which was nice but not what I’d hoped for. What I really wanted was for someone else to broach the topic of asexuality so I wasn’t left wondering if I was just imagining things. It took another month after that for me to bring the topic up with Emma, Lenny, and Captain Glittertoes, although with a lot less detail than I’ve written here.

*waves awkwardly*

And now here I am. Since I’ve stopped mentally pressuring myself to find a guy and start a relationship, I’ve begun to make a more serious effort in losing weight and eating healthy. The hard part is that I still would like a relationship. I miss hugging and kissing. I want to wake up in someone’s arms and have someone to joke with while washing dishes. I’d love to see the Northern Lights for the first time and have someone admire them with me. And I have no idea how to find someone short of wearing a t-shirt that reads “I love hiking and all things geeky but don’t want sex. Are you still interested?” And *cough* I’m so not wearing that. Even if it had a TARDIS on it.

I so want to do this!

I so want to do this!

* yes I know the names of all my body parts and use them and talk about them to my own children. No, I don’t feel like using them right now.

** thanks to all the chocolate references, I’m now baking chocolate chip cookies. At least I can freeze them for lunches.

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.