Trans*form the Dialogue

Trans-forming the Dialogue Logo

Simmons College is the third women’s college in the United States to officially accept trans students, both trans females and trans males who transition during their time there. Also, if anyone here is interested in applying, their Frequently asked Questions page says they work to ensure their trans students’ rooms are LGBTQ safe spaces and their student health insurance includes transgender health benefits.

I am participating in Trans*forming the Dialogue, Simmons College’s Online MSW Program’s campaign to promote an educational conversation about the transgender community. By participating in this campaign, I will be offering my perspective on what TO ask and what NOT to ask trans*people.

That being said, I’m not trans, so I’ve been picking the brains of people around me, including Jeremy. I asked Jeremy while we were on a chilly, drizzly walk to the grocery store. Zie stammered for a moment then laughed.

“I like when people ask me for my opinion on climate change or what my favourite colour is. Otherwise they can ask me what my gender is and then never comment on it again, unless they’re asking for my opinion on gender inequality. I really don’t like it when people ask me why I decided to be trans. I didn’t decide, I just am. I’m going to change the subject now…”

Then I asked my friends on several online groups and got these questions that should never be asked:

1. So, what’s in your pants? Do you have a penis?
2. Have you had surgery? So are you going to ya know, go the full way, get “the chop”?
3. What was your name before?
4. How can you be a guy if you still wear make up?
5.  Non binary isn’t a thing really is it?
6. Don’t you think if we got rid of gender roles trans people would disappear?
7. Which bathroom do you use?
8. Are you sure you aren’t…. insert rude assumption here… ?

Oh and a huge one, which wasn’t a question but is still important. If you’re talking about someone’s past in front of others, please use their current pronouns. Not only is it more comfortable for the person you’re talking about but it can also be a huge safety risk as you’re outing them.

The one good question to ask is “What pronouns do you prefer?” As Jeremy pointed out, most people want to talk about their interests and not their genitals.

As a parent, please don’t ask me if that is a boy or a girl. Don’t ask me if I’m aware that my child looks half boy – half girl, I do have eyes and I’m the one who bought zir rhinestone earrings and zir perfume. Don’t ask me what genders my kidlet is interested in. That’s no one’s business except the person my kid ends up dating.

I also really don’t want to hear the word “trendy” coming out of anyone’s mouth. Who do these people think my kid’s being trendy for? I can barely get Jeremy out of zir room. And please attempt zir pronouns. Neither of us care if you mangle them. We don’t care if you use zie constantly because you’re not exactly sure how to use zir (or vice versa)… as long as you’re trying. If you aren’t sure how to use them, please feel free to ask.

Neither male or female… just perfect

A reason to celebrate!

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I got my 2,500th follower today and that’s definitely a good reason for cake! Rainbow confetti cake with orange flavoured frosting to be exact.

It’s not perfect. I was almost out of gel and had to write the zeros with the end of a corncob handle, but that pretty much sums up our life. Things don’t go as planned but we improvise and keep trying. And somehow it works out in the end.

I’m so glad you’re all here. Thank you so much for reading and being a part of our lives.

The best zir in the world…

“Where do we keep the mop?” Jeremy yelled from the kitchen. Quite frankly those are words I don’t want to hear. Neither of my kids ever volunteer to mop the floor.

“It’s in the storage closet,” I replied as I set my phone down and dislodged a cat from my lap. “Why? What happened?”

“Oh nothing,” Jeremy said hastily. “And don’t come in!”

Well that didn’t make me feel any better. Nothing upgraded my fears from zir knocking over zir water jug to an accidental flood.

“If nothing happened, what do you need the mop for?” By this time I was halfway across the room.

“You’ll see,” Jeremy crooned in a sing-song voice that practically dripped with satisfaction.

And, with that, my fear dropped. There’s a lot of things Jeremy’s happy about but causing a huge mess isn’t one of them.

I picked up my phone but didn’t go back to Facebook. Instead I listened intently just in case I was needed.

“Mom’s going to love this,” Jeremy said loudly to zirself. “She’s going to say I’m the best zir in the world!” There was silence for a few moments then zie added happily, “I’m the best zir in the whole world!”

I couldn’t help smiling, I still can’t help it now.

“Okay, you can come in now,” zie said cheerfully.

I walked over to the kitchen and looked at my microwave sitting where my fridge used to be. A half turn showed me that my shelving unit had been moved as well. And, obviously, the fridge.

“I mopped the floor where the fridge was,” Jeremy exclaimed. “Aren’t I the best ever?”

“You definitely are,” I said before I pulled zir into a hug.

kitchen

All that glitters…

I spent almost three years dithering over what paint to buy for my room. Not constantly of course, but every once in a while I’d look at the plain beige walls and think almost anything would be better. The problem was I couldn’t decide on a colour. I like green, but only certain shades and paint always looks different once it’s dry. Then one night I pondered the possibility of painting my room iridescent and remembered the glitter paint I’d seen at Wal-Mart. Two days later Jeremy and I were painting my room.

painting the wall

Jeremy painting one of my walls.

I settled on turquoise for my walls, green enough to make me happy without worrying it would end up drab or electric lime (feel free to use that as a band name). Then I picked up two cans of Disney Speck-Tacular finish figuring I could use one for my room and save one for Jeremy. I was so naive.

The first thing I noticed was when I opened the can. The reviews say the paint goes on milky. They neglect to mention that the paint looks white and slightly lumpy in the can. My mind went back to Wal-Mart and the other cans on the shelf; chalkboard finish and glow-in-the-dark. It was obviously too pale for any sort of chalkboard effect but definitely pale enough to glow. Had I bought the wrong can? A quick check of the label relieved me in that regard. Did it have the wrong label? Let’s just say my first roll was very hesitant. You can imagine my relief when I saw the lumps were actually bits of glitter.

The second thing I learned is that you only get enough glitter on the roller for one roll; the rest of the roller is clear. Of course like any paint, the roller is saturated when it hits the wall. You can cover quite a bit with one roll in the paint tray. But after that first roll the rest is going to be glitterless (and pointless).

Third… one tiny can does almost a whole wall. So much for a can for each of us. In reality I needed three. I have the master bedroom but it’s not that big, plus one wall consists of mainly my bedroom door and closet (which I didn’t glitter up) while the opposite wall is mostly the sliding glass doors onto my balcony. If you’ve got a typical room with four walls to paint, you might need a fourth can. The cans are $19 each (in Canada) so it gets pricey.

glitter brush

The brush and paint tray looked so pretty.

glitter hand

My fingers looked pretty too.

The fourth was quite irritating as it seemed like most of the glitter stuck to the bottom of the paint tray… which lead to some creative finger painting on my part. I ended up scooping glitter off the tray with my fingers and smearing it across the roller before rolling it on the wall. The glitter ended up in huge chunks which I then smeared around the wall with my fingers (again) until it was all decently spread out. I then used the roller to erase my finger marks. At nineteen dollars a can I wasn’t going to glitter up my Dad’s paint tray (which looks fabulous now despite my best efforts).

I discovered the fifth when we went to buy the third can. Yes, the can says it’s a clear finish. It should say “mostly clear” as the top coat dries a shade darker than the original paint, which means if you don’t paint right to the ceiling and floor, you are going to end up with very visible bands. I did a quick touch up at that point.

On the left is the paint with glitter and top coat, then there's the plain paint and finally the original colour. Courtesy of my laziness as I didn't paint inside the closet. My clothes won't care.

On the left is the paint with glitter and top coat, then there’s the plain paint and finally the original colour. Courtesy of my laziness as I didn’t paint inside the closet. My clothes won’t care.

Finally… my room looks fantastic!!!! The confetti glitter is fairly subtle (well, as subtle as iridescent confetti glitter can get) and looks amazing against the turquoise walls. Several people have commented that it gives my room an under the sea effect so if anyone’s got a hankering for a mermaid room, this is your chance. Luckily for my wallet, Jeremy no longer wants this finish as zie thought it would be metallic pieces of rainbow coloured confetti. So zie’s just painting zir room purple. I’m sure it’ll still look fabulous.

It's so sparkly!

It’s so sparkly!

And it's all finished!

And it’s all finished!

I should add, this is by no means a paid review. As far as I know Disney has no idea whatsoever who I am and, considering Emma was one of the only teens in her high school class who couldn’t name most of the Disney princesses, I figure I’m pretty far down the list of people they’d look at for reviews.

Excitement over electronics…

If there’s one thing Jeremy loves, it’s electronics. If something involves wires and circuits, it’s amazing. Beyond amazing… it’s the best thing ever. If you add solar panels, lights, or sound you can watch Jeremy soar to the stratosphere with excitement.

The two of us went for a walk on Friday night. We were in the middle of our local green space, talking about camping, when I suddenly realized our camping spot at Unicamp might not have electricity. We’ve never camped without electricity before. We camp in my parents’ tent trailer which has built in fans, ceiling lights, a sink, and a tiny electric fridge plus I bring a toaster so I can make english muffins for breakfast. Most importantly, we can plug in our phone chargers. You know… really roughing it. We’re going camping for a week this July. I’m lucky if my phone lasts for six hours. I can take pictures on my real camera but can’t exactly send L 50 odd smoke signals a day.

“Jeremy? Where did we see that solar panel charger?” I asked idly. I should have known better because there’s nothing idle about Jeremy and electronics. But I knew we’d seen one recently and for a reasonable price too.

“Oh! At that new discount store! We should go there tonight and pick one up!” If zie could have opened a portal right there to the mall zie would have.

“It’s probably going to be too late tonight,” I pointed out. “I’m pretty sure the store closes at 8pm and it’s 7 o’clock now.”

Jeremy nodded and we walked a bit further down the trail. Suddenly zie let out a moan and staggered a little.

“What’s wrong?” I blurted, automatically checking for blood and/or dismemberment. I always go right to the worst case scenario. Everything looked okay but Jeremy had complained of a stomach ache before eating. Zie’d been fine ever since and did say it was probably from hunger. Maybe it had come back?

“These sandals are giving me a blister.” Zie slipped zir foot out of one shoe and showed me a blister. It looked fairly old and I thought it was from zir last pair, the ones we’d thrown out a week earlier, but it wasn’t like I’d sat there counting them and marking their locations.

“We can go home,” I pointed out, trying not to look longingly at the trail ahead. We’d only just started our walk and it was gorgeous out.

“It’s okay,” zie replied, “I can go a bit further.” Jeremy’s tone made it sound like zie was dragging zirself across the finish line by zir fingernails.

“There’s a short cut just up ahead,” I reminded zir. Jeremy perked right up.

walking

We walked slowly toward home, stopping so I could take pictures of the trilliums and Jeremy could drive zir newest remote control car. It wasn’t until we were back on the sidewalk and zir car battery died that zie remembered the solar panel charger.

“We need to go to that store,” zie said urgently.

I slid my phone out and shook my head. “There’s only 20 minutes left until the store closes and we’re at least 15 minutes from home. We can go tomorrow after work.”

“I might not make it but I have to try.” Jeremy’s voice was firm and zie started walking even faster. Zie’s almost a foot taller than me, there was no way I was going to keep up.

“If you’re going to leave me behind, could you at least give me back my apartment keys?”

Jeremy rummaged through zir bag then handed them to me before running off. I watched zir sprint away without even a suggestion of a limp then shook my head and continued home.

Jeremy called as soon as I walked in the door to let me know they no longer had the solar panel charger and was going to check out Value Village just in case. It wasn’t a surprise when zie called back less than five minutes later.

“Mom, guess what I found at Value Village???”

“A puppy?” I had to guess something. Jeremy expects an answer even if there’s no way I could know. One thing I knew for sure was zie hadn’t found a charger there.

“No,” zir voice dripped with scorn. “I found a broadband radio!!!”

This was presumably the best thing in the world although I had no idea why.

“O-kayy? And this is good because?”

Mo-om… it means I can listen to both AM and FM radio and it has a CD drive and it has a USB port so I can plug in my MP3 player or my phone and it has a light!!!! I can add it to my kitchen!!!”

The light was the best part. Jeremy has been planning zir own kitchen for about three years now. Zie has plans to someday build a counter in zir room for a tassimo, some sort of tiny sink, and a bar fridge. The plans get more elaborate by the day although nothing’s been placed on paper yet.

“I can attach it underneath the counter instead of adding pot lights and I can play music there! And the best part is it’s only $8 and they’re usually a hundred dollars so I’m saving $92!!! And I’ve been wanting it forever!!!”

Which makes forever a lot shorter than I thought considering I’d never heard zir mention one before.

“You have no money so you’re not spending anything,” I pointed out.

“Okay, you’re saving $92.”

Technically I wasn’t saving anything because I’d never had any plans to buy a broadband radio. I was spending $8. But it wasn’t worth telling this to Jeremy.

“What happened to yesterday when I bought you that pair of purple headphones because yours broke and you kept borrowing mine? You said you wouldn’t ask me for anything all week.”

Jeremy was nearly in tears. “I know Mom and I’m sorry. It’s just stuff goes so fast here and I might not get another chance to get one of these again. Please!!! I’ve wanted one forever and we might never see one at this price again!”

I gave one of those full lung sighs. “Okay, fine,” I said reluctantly.

“Oh yay!!!! Thanks Mom, you’re the best! And I promise I won’t ask for anything else for the rest of this month!!!!!”

Sunday we went out to buy some more paint for my bedroom and took a walk through Marshalls, one of Jeremy’s favourite stores.

“Oh wow Mom look!!! They have a bluetooth keyboard for phones and tablets and it’s purple!!!! I’ve been wanting one of these forever!!!!!”

“You promised you wouldn’t ask me for anything else this month,” I reminded zir and got a sheepish smile.

“I know,” zie said ruefully. “I’m just not good at stuff like that.”

Jeremy might have no concept of forever but at least zie knows zir limitations.

Now Jeremy’s cleaning zir room after telling me zie’s going for “style over functionality”. I’m scared to look. Zie says it’ll be fabulous.