Jeremy’s photos…

Jeremy came back from CanUUdle late last night, bouncing with excitement and giggling madly over jokes that made no sense; a lack of sleep likely accounted for the latter. He had a great time. They swam, went to a park, and played capture the flag. He loved the hot tub more than the pool, although it only seated eight (which is eight more than our imaginary one can seat). I asked him if he wore his pyjamas and he looked at me in bewildered surprise before saying “yes”.

“Did anyone say anything?” I asked, trying to sound casual. His look of bewilderment increased.

“No. I just put them on and hopped into my sleeping bag. I was the first one asleep.”

Considering how late Jeremy stays up, they must have stayed up really late.

And Jeremy took pictures. Lots of pictures. 139 to be exact. None of them were people, he says he hadn’t asked for permission to take anyone’s picture. Almost none of them were scenery so I have no real idea of where he was or what he saw. I also need to show him how to use the macro setting of the camera as most of the pictures ended up being nothing but a huge blur. But he did take some interesting shots.

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Here, he made an attempt at a macro shot. I know he’s seen me do similar. What he didn’t realize was I had the camera on super macro and my hand actually wasn’t in the shot. It was a good attempt though.

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Hypocritical Family Values

Jeremy’s made it through his third night and I’ve still heard nothing. He should be home tonight with lots of stories and no pictures on the camera I sent with him… and possibly in his pjs, if he follows the same pattern he has for every other youth gathering. I’m looking forward to seeing him and not looking forward to the laundry (which is the same pattern I have for every other youth gathering).

A friend of mine shared a video on Facebook yesterday and I’d like to share it with you. I’ll share it with Jeremy later:

Edited to add: Wow that’s one heck of an interesting still YouTube chose to freeze for the video LOL

I was given comebacks…

I posted on a forum I frequent and asked for comebacks on the “he looks like a half girl” comment. Quite a few were not suitable to say to a teenager but I got a couple of good ones. My favourites were…

“Which half?”
“Why is that a bad thing?”
“Your shitty, archaic preconceived notions of gender roles [sic] make the baby Jesus cry.”
“Is there something wrong with girls?”
“How do you mean?” Then stare at her while she tries to explain.

My favourite comment from there didn’t come from that thread and (of course) I completely forgot to use it yesterday. “I’m surprised you feel comfortable saying that.”

By this time, Jeremy’s two nights into his youth gathering and I haven’t heard a word from him, which is good. That means he’s been too busy to text. One more night and then he’ll be on his way home. I’m curious to find out what they did and if he wore the only pair of pyjamas he packed or if he simply crashed in clothes for three nights. I’m hoping for pjs, I didn’t pack much in the way of clothes.

Also, here’s an article (and video) from CBC: Transgender blood donor turned away in Vancouver.

I’d hope this gets sorted out soon but, honestly, donating blood can be a crap shoot for anyone; their criteria is much too vague. I got turned away once because I admitted to taking vitamin B12 when asked about medication. Not injections, just the plain vitamin tablets sold in the drug store. They hadn’t been prescribed, I wasn’t anaemic, I simply started taking them on my own because I’m vegan. It floored the nurse, she’d never heard of anyone taking vitamin B12 before without it being injected by a doctor (I’ve seen the shelves at every drug store and find this hard to believe). No matter how many times I told her it wasn’t a prescription, it wasn’t injected, and I wasn’t anaemic, she kept insisting it was all three. I got sent away “just this once” as long as I talked to my doctor and got his permission. Verbal permission was fine too so theoretically I could have just shown up in another month and lied. I did talk to my doctor, who was confused why it would be an issue, and it wasn’t even brought up at the next donation. I’m taking B12 and D now and there’s no way in hell I’m letting the nurses know this at Canadian Blood Services.

Canadian Blood Services routinely turn away all men who have sex with another male, although they’ve relaxed their rules now. It used to be if they’ve had sex at any time, even once, since 1977 and now it’s in the past five years. Jeremy simply snorted when I told him this and said, “So they’re pretty much still banning every adult gay male.”

I personally think they should look more at promiscuity than gender, a woman who sleeps with someone whose sexual background is unknown can donate again within a year while a gay man who’s been in a monogamous relationship for the past twenty years can’t donate at all. But they didn’t ask me my opinion.

What do you say?

I was sitting in the break room at work enjoying a bag of cherries when a young coworker sat down beside me. She smiled and we went through our usual hellos then I told her I had a few new pictures on my phone. I shared a Mother’s Day shot of my sister, my Mom, and I then scrolled to one of Jeremy with his new purple dye.

“Oh,” she blurted, sounding surprised. One side of her mouth quirked down. “Oh,” she repeated. She took another quick look at the screen. “Why did he pick that colour?” she asked, her tone pure disapproval. “He looks like a half girl.”

I had absolutely no idea what to say, so I settled on “okay”. To be fair, I don’t think she had any idea what to say to my response. The rest of break was quiet.

Also, today’s the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. There are 77 countries where it’s against the law to be gay. Jeremy told me a couple of weeks ago that he thought it would be really cool to travel to Russia then promised he wouldn’t go when I started to cry.

God hates me…

Jeremy and I went out shopping last night. He needed a t-shirt to wear with his pyjama bottoms and a white t-shirt for signing at CanUUdle. And, since he only has one pair of decent pj bottoms, we figured we’d look for another pair too.

We started off in Target, which only recently came to Canada. I never thought I’d say it but I miss Zellers. Target (in Canada at least) does not have much selection. We were browsing through the men’s department when Jeremy asked a clerk where the men’s pyjamas were. They don’t have them. Alrighty then, onward to Giant Tiger.

Giant Tiger is a Canadian discount store. I figured we wouldn’t have much luck but Jeremy loves shopping and insisted (extremely vocally) that we give it a try.

“Is this the men’s department?” Jeremy asked. He sounded bored. I don’t know what he expected but it definitely wasn’t the clothes Giant Tiger was offering.

“Yes,” I confirmed. The section was filled with camo, dark colours, and fluorescent vests. The ladies department didn’t have the vests. “Look, I found the pjs. They have Duck Dynasty.”

Jeremy snorted. “Like I want his face anywhere near my crotch.”

We started walking toward the electronics department (if a rack of headphones, slimline phones, and blank CDs can classify as a department) then Jeremy did a double take at a photo in the men’s underwear section.

“Is that a girl?” he blurted in astonishment. He looked closer at the picture of a young, long haired man. “Oh, no wait… it’s just Jesus.”

I stifled a laugh. The young man really did resemble those paintings of Jesus, except I’d never seen one of Jesus topless before. It was that classic ‘sitting with his arms crossed on his knees while taking a dump pose’ that school photographers love. Maybe the photographer got a promotion from Lifetouch photographer to discount underwear model photographer. If that was indeed a promotion.

“You know? I’d never invite God into our house,” Jeremy mused. “God hates me. If I invited him inside he’d try to rip my face off.”

I found myself with no idea what to say. Meanwhile Jeremy curved his fingers then raked his hand downward before smiling. He thought a bit more.

“Jesus would probably be okay.” He nodded to himself. “Yeah, I’d invite Jesus in. He seems like a nice enough guy. But I definitely wouldn’t invite God. God doesn’t want me.”

I’ve raised both my kids as an atheist and both have grown up to be atheists (Jeremy spent a few years as a kid believing we went to the Pokemon realm when we died). Plus I’ve raised them in the Unitarian Universalist Church, which is not considered Christian (in Canada) and hosts a good chunk of atheists and pagans. So, thankfully for Jeremy this was more of an academic question. He might as well have been pondering whether Santa Claus liked him enough to leave him presents, knowing full well I’m the one who buys them and already have them bought. But I can’t help feeling horrible for the kids growing up in a religion that claims to be full of love and kindness for everyone except for you, you, and *tsk* especially not you. That isn’t love.

I wonder if the “love the sinner but hate the sin” Christians realize how much of a message of hate they’re preaching. Because the kids are hearing it loud and clear.

Fighting back nerves…

All this week I figured I’d write a post today about how I’m sending my almost 17 year old son on a trip to another province, via a road trip with a total stranger and four other teens from a different congregation, and why I wasn’t worried at all. I lied (to myself at least).

Jeremy’s going to CanUUdle tomorrow, the Canadian Unitarian Universalist youth conference, and I’m having a quiet freak out in my room.

Jeremy is looking forward to the holiday, other than the six hour car ride. *Cough* I might have told him it was four or five. I gave him his Doctor Who towel early because they’re going swimming on Sunday and I’m lending him my camera (and hoping he’ll actually use it).

We got a 14 page information package to read, which details what they’re doing this weekend. It includes this statement: Anyone who feels that his/her/ze’s time as a youth is coming to an end in the near future can participate in the bridging ceremony. That sentence, among others, should make me more comfortable and it has to a point.

But now reality is setting in. I looked at Jeremy’s pyjamas a few days ago and they were really bad; I’m talking they looked like the losing end of a fight with a weed whacker. In frustration I gave him a pair of my own pj bottoms that are way too long on me. I figured he’d wear them around the apartment and we’d buy a new pair for the youth trip. We already had a pj shopping trip planned for tonight. He tried them on and modeled them for me. They fit perfectly. Minutes later he was back in his old pyjamas.

“What? You didn’t like them?” I asked.

He looked at me in surprise. “No, I liked them,” he replied. “I’m saving them for the youth trip.”

Those pj bottoms are not unisex. They’re teal blue and made out of a silky material. There’s no way they came out of the men’s department anywhere.

“The youth trip,” I repeated faintly.

“Yes,” he agreed. “I’m going to need pyjamas and these will be perfect. Don’t they have a top?”

I pulled the top out and he tried it on then laughed hysterically.

“These actually fit my breasts,” he said gesturing to the built in bra. “What do women with actual breasts do?”

“Not fit it,” I said dryly. “There’s a couple of reasons why I never wear that top.”

He laughed and pulled it off. “It’s not very comfortable,” he commented.

“And that would be the other reason,” I replied, sticking it back into the drawer.

We went out today and bought a soft teal blue t-shirt.

“I don’t normally wear a shirt to bed,” Jeremy complained.

“You’re going to be sleeping in a large group,” I pointed out. “You’ll need one.” He grudgingly agreed.

So, my son with the long purple hair will be heading off tomorrow to sleep in a large group of teenagers while wearing ladies sleepwear. Right now he’s cheerfully buying and downloading Doctor Who videos for the car ride. Meanwhile I’m going to sit in the corner and breathe into a paper bag.

The quirks of puberty…

Jeremy’s gained about twenty pounds over the last half a year, placing him solidly in the overweight section of the BMI. I don’t pay too much attention to that chart as it’s often inaccurate but Jeremy does need to lose some weight.

Most of the weight has settled around his waist, a bit on his face, and the rest landed solidly on his chest. I’m pretty sure I went out and bought a training bra for Emma when she was around that size, although that was more because she was twelve and desperately wanted a bra than out of any real need.

The first thing I did once I realized how much Jeremy’s chest had grown was look up ‘male breast development during puberty’. Apparently gynecomastia is quite common, with somewhere around half to two thirds of all male teens going through some degree of breast development; the vast majority of those breasts fading within a few months to a couple of years.

Then I dithered on how to broach the subject. Jeremy hadn’t mentioned anything, maybe he hadn’t noticed. I decided to wait, going over reassurances for him in my mind. It’s normal, it’s common, they’ll fade…

“Hey Mom. Look! I have breasts!” Jeremy’s tone was pure ‘it’s Christmas morning and Santa’s arrived’. Apparently those reassurances I’d planned weren’t necessary.

For a kid who’s never noticed breasts much to begin with, he’s sure excited to see them on himself.

A dress shouldn’t be confusing…

link to article

link to article

I’ve had an interesting time writing this blog post. I originally found an article about little Romeo Clarke which detailed his removal from a playgroup over his love of princess dresses. I added and linked the picture in my post but when I went back to the article for a quote, I found a “Page Not Found” notice; the article had been removed. So it was promptly scrapped. Moments later I realized I still had the photo, which had been titled with the child’s name, and did a quick Google search. Sure enough there were plenty of articles. I set out to browse articles, finding and discarding several before choosing this one.

While the rest of the paper seems rather tabloid-ish and aimed at shocking, this article seems well written and thorough, something several other articles couldn’t say. And it has a video from the Telegraph at the bottom, which I’d wanted to include. I’m warning you in advance, he’s seriously adorable in the video. The above picture, which links to the article, is a still from the video.

Here’s a quote from the Minister in Training of the church running the after school program:

“Buzz Children’s Club seeks to follow our usual safeguarding guidelines and we did so in this case in order to avoid any confusion or possible conflict or teasing from other children.”

As with Grayson and his My Little Pony backpack, it appears their official bullying policy is victim blaming instead of dealing with any issues that might arise. How hard would it be to say “Romeo is a boy who likes wearing princess dresses and that’s fine”? Hopefully Romeo will find a better club to attend.

And kudos to his parents for letting him be himself!

Be a man…

I don’t remember how old Jeremy was. Six? Seven? Eight? Nine? It wasn’t just one conversation, it was a bunch of them, all pretty much the same.

“How do I know if I’m a boy?” Jeremy asked. He sat down on the couch beside me and stared at me intently.

“Well…” I paused, thinking hard. “Do you feel like a boy?”

Jeremy nodded.

“Well you feel like a boy and you’ve got a penis so you’re a boy,” I replied. “That’s not going to just fall off,” I added dryly.

Jeremy looked relieved but still worried.

“Even the doctor agrees you’re a boy,” I continued. A bit more worry faded. Whoever had been bugging him, whether they were a kid or an adult, didn’t have nearly as much authority as our doctor.

“How do I get to be a man?”

I shrugged. “You grow up.”

Jeremy eyed me skeptically and I smiled.

“That’s it,” I assured him. “You’re a boy now and you’ll grow up to be a man. There’s no magic test. You can like pink and play with barbies, you can even wear a dress. As long as you feel like a boy then you’ll grow up to be a man. Everybody grows up; your body will do this all on its own.”

“Really?” Jeremy looked hopeful.

“Yes, really. Now are you going back outside to play?”

Jeremy shook his head. “No, I think I’ll play in my room.”

And off he skipped.

Fast forward to last year. I sent Jeremy out with my debit card to pick up pizza for dinner. He came bounding in, eyes sparkling, two boxes of pizza in his hands.

“Someone told me in the elevator to ‘be a man’,” Jeremy announced. He set the boxes down on the counter and brushed his hair off his face. This was before his teacher brought in classmates to convince him to cut it, so his hair was past his shoulders. He grinned. “I told him I will be a man when I grow up. I’m a boy now so I’ll be a man.”

I still hate the phrases “man up” and “be a man” but I’m glad Jeremy’s confident enough these days to shake them off.

And now I’m going to dye his hair purple. This time I bought the right container. Hopefully it’ll turn out well.

Jeremy has a girlfriend…

When Jeremy got home yesterday he immediately wanted me to see his bedroom. He’s been working on cleaning up for several days now and spent an hour working on it that morning after I left for work.

It looked really good but he hadn’t cleaned under his bed. I got the broom and began sweeping.

“I’m in a relationship,” he blurted.

I reached the broom into the far corner beneath the bed. “Does The Doctor know?” I asked.

“Mom!” he retorted. He was probably trying to sound shocked but was laughing too much to manage. “It’s not The Doctor.”

I put the broom down. “Okay, so who is it?”

“It’s Hannah,” he replied, which wasn’t a surprise. He’s been frustrated with Hannah since late last year. She keeps picking boyfriends who have her marked as an easy lay then inappropriate behaviour ensues.

“I wouldn’t treat her like that,” he told me last spring. “I don’t know why she keeps picking assholes to date.”

This was shortly after the bus incident; one where Hannah was caught giving her boyfriend sexual favours on the bus ride home. Jeremy is in a special class and he’s quite easily the most high functioning child in the room. Hannah would be more accurately described as sweet and pliable and the boyfriend as developmentally delayed.

This incident is what prompted the school to finally offer their classes a sex ed program. Until then I’m pretty sure Jeremy was the only teen in his class who’d attended one and that’s because I sent him to the OWL program offered through our Unitarian Universalist congregation.

As an aside, I highly recommend this program to anyone with children, especially if they are or you suspect they might be LGBTQ. It’s not a religious program, Canadian Unitarian Universalists aren’t considered Christian and I’m sure a third of our congregation is atheist. It’s a comprehensive program and one which treats all sexual orientations and gender identities equal. When Emma took the program, they role played asking people out so they’d know how hard it is and be gentle with someone who’s made the effort (even if they weren’t interested). They didn’t pair the kids by gender, they drew names out of hats. Emma was paired with a girl for her turn.

Obviously sex ed for Jeremy’s classmates had come a bit too late.

Last month a friend of Jeremy, one of Hannah’s ex-boyfriends, decided to touch her inappropriately at school. She complained to one of the teachers. At first Jeremy was mad because he felt his friend hadn’t done anything and they were blaming him over nothing. Then the friend confessed. Neither teen wanted to go any further with charges so the issue was dropped. However, the school and Hannah’s parents decided it would be better if Hannah didn’t date at all anymore. Jeremy was livid.

“She wasn’t dating him and didn’t want to be touched. They’re punishing her for doing the right thing and telling someone in authority. That’s not fair.” He shook his head in disgust. “She keeps picking guys who only want her for sex and I’m not going to be like that.”

He said the last part emphatically and I believe him. That’s why he broke up with his last girlfriend. She wanted sex and he didn’t, at least not with her. And I was dancing inside because he was only 15 years old at the time. You can be sure I praised him to the sky for his decision.

Of course this is a relationship in name only. They can’t go out anywhere because she’s not allowed to date. They can’t say anything at school. I’d be surprised if they’re even able to hold hands, let alone kiss. But he can tell people outside of school that he’s dating her and I guess that’s good enough for him. As Lenny pointed out, it’s a safe relationship.

Shortly after I sat down at the computer, Jeremy appeared at my door, a huge grin on his face.

“Did you know The Doctor’s bisexual?” he asked. “There’s this guy he likes and they flirt back and forth and talk about sex. The guy can’t die either.”

“Is it Captain Jack?” I asked. I’ve only seen four episodes but Jeremy’s watched everything available on Netflix. He nodded.

“Yes, Captain Jack and the second doctor in the new seasons,” he replied.

He came back a short time later. “Mom! Mom! The Doctor went to a gay strip club,” he blurted excitedly.

One of these days I’ll have to sit down and watch the rest of the shows with him. Four episodes and some disjointed descriptions aren’t enough to know what’s going on.