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 L, 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, L, 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.

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.