“I hate my body”
I never wanted this for my child. When I was pregnant, my mantra was “I don’t care if my baby’s a boy or girl, I just want my baby to be happy”. Untreated gender dysphoria isn’t happy. It’s sweatpants and baggy shirts unhappy. It’s a patchy shave because Julie doesn’t want to look at herself in the mirror unhappy.
The only cure is transitioning and there Julie’s stuck. She wants to transition but doesn’t want to look like a man in a dress. So she’s taking baby steps. A pretty shirt… a tiny ponytail… a necklace. Plus she’s still waiting to hear about her doctor, the one who should be able to prescribe hormones.
It boggles my mind the people who think parents choose this for their children, like being trans is some sort of trend. Like instead of buying a Cabbage Patch Kid, we’re going to have a real live Trans Kid. It’s just as much fun as having a Cabbage Patch Kid and comes with bonuses like “where will my kid pee?”, “what do you mean you can’t use her pronouns?”, and “blockers cost HOW much?”
These people seem to think it’s super easy to get a trans kid. There’s no self doubt, 3am bouts of insomnia, or tears. Just one day little Johnny picked up a Barbie and, wham, he’s in a dress (or little Jane picked up a matchbox car and suddenly she’s in a tie and snazzy button up shirt). There really doesn’t seem to be any point in talking with these people. Maybe someone out there’s had better luck than me but I’ve found yelling at rocks to be easier and the rock’s that much more likely to change it’s mind.
Meanwhile the baby steps toward transitioning seem to be helping. Julie has a package of purple razors and floral scented shaving cream for her face and arms plus just knowing the new doctor is coming is a help. She’s gone back to school, a place that lets her work at her own pace and is working toward her grade 12. And she’s working at eating healthier too so when she finally has hips and a chest, they’ll stand out from her stomach.
Then she heads back out the door in sweats and an over sized t-shirt and all I can do is think “soon… hopefully soon.”
Julie’s tiny pony tail and silky shirt
Some days it feels like there’s so much cruelty in this world that the earth can barely contain it. From pure evil to petty meanness, it saturates our lives to the point where it’s overwhelming. It becomes hard to notice anything else. But there is something else that’s equally strong. Kindness.
Kindness grows like dandelions through concrete… seemingly impossible until it’s there. It spreads and scatters in small amounts that appear almost pointless. What can a simple smile do compared with war and starvation? But it keeps trying. It’s spreads and it grows.
Today Julie and I are protesting against the gay concentration camps in Chechnya. It is a little protest in a little city in Canada. Ramzan Kadyrov, the region’s leader, will never hear of our protest. On the surface it seems pointless.
But every person who passes us today has the chance to think of LGBTQ rights and the prejudice against us. Every person has the chance to think on their own views and perhaps modify them a bit, which then impacts their families. With each protest, more families are touched and the greater the impact. Then it’s noticed.
Politics is often a popularity game. What can a politician do to please the constituents and get elected again. A positive view on the LGBTQIA community and a desire to do something about those camps will get noticed by more and more and will, hopefully, get added to foreign policy.
Each one of us is but a simple light but together we make up all the stars in the universe. Let your light shine. It might be small but it matters. You matter.
The last time I donated blood was a couple of years ago with Emma. Then I got put onto an anti-depressant and wasn’t sure if I could donate anymore. I figured I’d call and check soon. It was a good plan but it didn’t happen.
Last week I got yet another message from Canadian Blood Services and decided to call and find out for sure. Effexor – yes, Abilify – yes, Clonazapam – yes, and Lithium – yes… I was good to go. Not only that but it would be my 25th time donating, one of those milestone donations. Then came my biggest surprise.
“Can I donate too?” Julie asked hopefully.
Anyone who remembers Julie’s needle phobia will understand my surprise. But she had blood work done this winter so it had faded a bit. I told her to bring her container of meds and come along. The clinic takes walk ins.
My meds get dropped off on Thursday but that wouldn’t be a problem because they arrive at 5:15pm every week and my appointment wasn’t until 6:20pm. Plenty of time… until 6pm rolled around and my medication didn’t. I reset the appointment to 7:50pm which turned out perfect. The meds arrived and we immediately left, catching the bus a few minutes later.
Last time I was there, they had a counter staffed with people doing pin prick iron tests and handing out the questionnaires. That counter now had tablets with the questionnaires on them. I was just finishing mine up when Julie sat down and proceeded to read each question aloud.
“Just don’t read your answers out loud,” one of the nurses said with concern. “Those answers are private.” Julie assured her that she wouldn’t.
I’m a fast donor so I was already done and eating Oreos when Julie finished with the nurse. She took her seat while I hovered nervously in the kitchen area, just out of view, and then the needle went in with no problem whatsoever. She did amazing!
Not only that but she’s already hoping to donate again! I’m so proud of her.
When I read about trans people, I read the same narrative. The trans person knew since they were a young child and were insistent and persistent (unless it was unsafe for them to do so). But nothing is one size fits all and that includes gender.
- I never knew people often come out as gay or bisexual before coming out as trans. Julie, then Jeremy, came out as bisexual (and later retracted it) months before coming out as bi-gender and I’ve read story after similar story since then.
- I never knew people’s gender shifted. Gender is complicated, a lot more than I ever knew, and it’s not uncommon for someone to come out as various genders before settling on one (or staying gender fluid). Julie told me long before she came out as trans that she was just like Jazz Jennings except she had a female brain and a male body. Then she came out as bi-gender and wandered around the non-binary spectrum before settling on female. I know several people who wandered the same way and one who started out binary and moved to non-binary. To be fair, if asked, I couldn’t put into words why I’m female either, except that I feel like it. It’s difficult to pin down.
- I never knew there’s a correlation between being trans and being autistic. Studies show you’re statistically more likely to be trans if you have autism. The same studies do not know why. Julie was diagnosed by a psychologist when she was eight years old as having high functioning autism.
- I’ve always been a proponent of “stereotypes don’t matter” but didn’t think about how much until Julie came out. Stereotypes are just that. Liking cars and computers doesn’t make someone male any more than liking flowers and dresses makes someone female. Julie’s love of computers is simply a sign that she loves technology, it’s not a sign of her gender. I have a male cis friend whose heart flutters over lace parasols. It’s not a sign of his gender either.
- People can know they’re trans at a young age but that’s not the only narrative. People often don’t figure it out until their teens or even later. Julie was 17 before she realized she wasn’t cisgender and I’ve known people who didn’t sort this out until they were in their 20’s or 30’s.
- An awful lot of people like to brag about going by basic biology when it comes to gender. Personally I’d rather go by advanced. Basic isn’t my style.
- Being trans isn’t any different than a medical condition (well except that it’s gender and not medical). They might need surgery at some point but it’s nobody’s business and certainly not the starting point of an introduction. And then there’s the whole whack of doctor’s appointments and terminology.
If you have something you’ve learned on the journey, please feel free to write it in the comments below.
I hear a lot about support and lack thereof. Reading posts by people who have cut family off entirely for not supporting their trans child. And, depending on the family, I get it. But what’s support?
Julie (Jeremy) informed me a few days ago that her Nana is supportive of her transitioning but that Grandad walked past and told her that he will never see her as female, she will always be male to him. That’s not supportive. And yet…
We see them every single week and talk to them daily. They bought us a tent as a very early joint birthday present for our family camping trip and are going to drive us there and back. They listen to Julie’s talk about computers and support her dream of going into robotics. They have been there for Julie her whole life.
Transitioning is a big thing but it’s not the only part of Julie’s life and, thankfully, Julie knows this. Her response to my Dad’s comment? A smile and the remark, “he’ll look silly saying I’m a man once I have breasts” followed by, “it’s no big deal though, he’ll change his mind when I start looking more like a girl.”
Every change takes time to get used to and this one is no exception. My Dad will get used to Julie’s transition eventually. Until then he’ll continue to be as supportive as he can.