Decisions… decisions…

Nothing much has changed on Emma’s side regarding transitioning. She knows she’s female but hasn’t decided whether to start hormones or not. She doesn’t want to be a trap (definitions 3 and 4) as she puts it.

There seems to be blocks everywhere. Having her stop transitioning and waiting for a decade or so to have biological kids is easy to say but isn’t particularly feasible as she’s already struggling with gender dysphoria. Plus, as Emma pointed out, there’s no guarantee she’ll be able to have biological kids. She could fall in love with another trans woman or a woman who’s infertile.

Sperm banks are prohibitively expensive, then there’s storage fees on top of the first payment. Plus there’s In Vitro Fertilization which only a 40% success rate per cycle for a young person. Once her spouse’s age goes past 35 years old, that rate drops.

And the last choice, on her list, adoption. This one sounds like a good option on in future. Let’s say Emma and her partner have good jobs and they want to adopt. They get a list of questions and one of the first ones is “Do you have a mental illness?” and that’s the end of the questioning because she’s no longer valid to be an adoptive parent.

Her only hope now is for a partner with a womb so they can use a sperm bank, something I haven’t looked into… yet.

I’ve found someone for her to talk to, mostly because I’m tactless and will do just about anything for my kids when they’re in a tough situation. I walked up to a total stranger and asked her if she was trans. She was. Before she could turn around and walk away, I blurted, “I’m asking for my teenager, she’s trans”. We had a good conversation and she gave me her phone number and agreed to chat with Emma.

It’s hard waiting for Emma to make up her mind. I could ask her but it’s her decision to make and she needs space to do this on her own. I just hope she makes the decision for her and not some possibly future embryo.

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Me too…

CW: sexual assault

My grade eight teacher was particularly strict. We had rules for how to line our paper and we had rules for how to line up before class (in order of height). There was always a bit of a jumble as kids found their spaces in line. This day I was standing a bit away from the other kids when it happened. Lloyd reached over and grabbed my breast in front of everyone.

The teacher came out with the resulting noise and asked what happened. So I told him. He immediately got Lloyd and I then took us down the hall. My stop was first. I got put into the little room beside the science room. It was probably designed as a photo lab but all it had was a stool, which I perched on.

The teacher told me to stay in there and wait until he came back. Then he left. I had no idea what was going on or why I’d been put there. I felt like I’d done something wrong. I sat there, staring at the blacked out window, and wondered what was going to happen to me. All the while I could feel Lloyd’s hand touching me.

Eventually the teacher came and led me back to class. No adults asked me any questions or even mentioned the incident to me. I sat in silence, trying not to look at any other kids.

When I got home, my Mom sat me down and explained how Lloyd was having a hard time. His Dad had died recently, crushed under the car he was repairing. Lloyd was the one to find him. I should have some sympathy for him. He had a lot on his plate.

I didn’t want to here this. I wanted “I love you”, “I’m sorry this happened to you”, “It wasn’t your fault”.

Lloyd was back several days later. I noticed him in French class and made sure to sit as far away from him as possible. The teacher told us to put our finished work on the back table. I placed mine down then a body pushed and ground himself against me. Lloyd whispered harshly, “If you tell on me ever again I will fuck you up the ass.” I’d learned my lesson. No one would do anything. I didn’t tell.

Soon after he invented a song, “Ah Kath-a-leen, ah Kath-a-leen. She’s my honey, my Playboy Bunny. Ah Kath-a-leen”. The song made me feel horrible inside but there was noone to tell. Yard supervisors ignored it and I didn’t think anyone else would care. This went on for months.

I also figured they wouldn’t care about the lies the boys were loudly telling. Claims of what I’d done to them the night before. Some things went right over my head. The rest were horribly embarrassing.

I have face blindness and struggle to recognize people. Which made the next stage of abuse even harder. Boys would walk up to me and touch me somewhere, usually my shoulder but sometimes my backside, and tell me what I was going to do to them that night. Then they’d slip away into the crowd. I didn’t know who I could trust because I didn’t know which boys were involved.

As we all aged the form of abuse changed. Now they had cars. I’d be walking home from school, or just around the neighbourhood, when someone would scream my name and what I’d supposedly done that night with him. I still jump if someone yells from a car and that happened in the 1980’s.

The day before yesterday I watched as my Facebook newsfeed filled with statuses and comments reading “me too”. I’d held this secret for so long, only my ex-boyfriend Lenny knew. But I wasn’t the only one assaulted, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Remember, if you were sexually assaulted, you have value, meaning, self-worth, and dignity. They took nothing from you. You matter so very much and people care about you. I care about you.

They didn’t take anything from you. You are still you. You are still whole. You will recover. We are phoenixes. We will burn into ashes and rise again even stronger.

The butterfly…

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I was in the hospital for two weeks back in September and it was such a positive difference. Two doctors checked me over and changed my medication slightly. But that slight change made a huge improvement.

The next thing I did was buy a Fitbit Flex 2. I love it. It’s small, comfortable, and waterproof. Plus it automatically logs all my exercise, including swimming. And I’m determined to get my 10 thousand steps in every day. Which is a bonus because I have to go outside to get those steps. Depression and going outside don’t often play together well.

I talked to someone from the Canadian Mental Health Association about getting a therapist and, voila, she had information in her satchel. Not only that but I only had to wait a week. I talked to the therapist yesterday and think we’ll work well together.

Then today I got to meet my new psychiatrist. I liked my old psychiatrist but he didn’t think he was doing much to help me… that we just didn’t click… so he transferred me to a new doctor. And the new doctor and I clicked. We obviously had serious topics to discuss but I left him laughing which seems like a good start.

I feel like a caterpillar now. I’m changing into I don’t know what. All I know is it will be beautiful.

Feeling dizzy…

“Mom, I’m dizzy,” Emma informed me yet again.

I paused, unable to tell if she was trying to shirk chores or if she really was feeling unwell. The odds were 50/50.

I settled on, “You can tell that to your doctor when you see him.”

Emma was satisfied with this, especially since she was seeing the doctor that week. The doctor was very thorough. He checked her blood pressure (which was low) her ears, her heart, and wrote out two sheets for blood work. One for then and one in two weeks.

Her complaints of dizziness concerned me about as much as her diet. Emma lives off cup of noodles, SideKicks Singapore Curry Noodles, frozen hash browns, and not much else. She hates all vegetables except potatoes… all fruit except for the occasional grape and apple… oh, and she’ll eat mushrooms.

I’ll make pizza from scratch and put hers on a plate then, a couple of days later, I’ll find three quarters of it in her room. I’ll make spaghetti and remind her she has a jar of plain tomato sauce. She’ll make cup of noodles instead.

She’s seeing a nutritionist, whom I’m sure is pulling out her hair. I know the nutritionist tried to get her to eat more fruits and vegetables instead of garbage food but it didn’t work. Finally she asked Emma to start eating meat.

The first I knew about this was on Friday night when Emma informed me that she was “‘thinking of eating meat again”. I believe I said “Oh okay” or something equally witty. Then we went out for lunch with my parents and Kait and Emma proudly announced, “I’m not vegan anymore. I’m going to eat meat”. She ordered the butter chicken.

I find myself torn. On one hand she insists the dizziness is gone (placebo effect maybe… it sure happened quickly) but on the other hand she’s not eating any healthier. She’s replaced her previous junk food with canned ravioli, Kraft Dinner, and some sort of thick and chunky beef stew.

I am absolutely no help for her when it comes to meat. I switched to being vegetarian when I was in college and have no real idea of how to cook it or how long it stays fresh. Neither do I want to. This is something Emma will have to learn on her own. Maybe she can find a cooking channel.

She’s been vegan for about two years now so it’s definitely going to take a bit for me to get used to seeing cheese on the fridge door and milk on the top shelf.

The hard decision…

Emma sees her doctor tomorrow about starting hormone therapy. The thing is, she’s not sure she wants to. Or, more specifically, she wants to but also wants to someday have a baby of her own. And this is one thing I can’t help her with.

It’s a hard choice at twenty to have to decide whether to make yourself infertile. It’s even harder when you’ve wanted to be a parent for your whole life. I reminded her about adoption but she wants to have a baby, not a child. I pointed out that they could go to a sperm bank to impregnate her future wife and got silence in return. And I brought up the fact that hormones work better when you’re younger and got a curt “I know”.

Emma has school tomorrow and I have a social recreation group. We’re going to meet up after both and walk to the doctor’s office. With any luck she’ll have come to a conclusion she can live with.

Update:¬†Emma’s doctor sent us home with information about sperm banks and some places to call. Her next appointment is in two months.

Clothes shopping…

It was afternoon when Emma called. I’d been having a high anxiety day and was still in my pjs.

“Mom, I’ve got a 30% off coupon at Value Village. Why don’t you meet me and we can go clothes shopping together.”

Clothes shopping was definitely at the bottom of my list of things to do. Right under scrubbing the bathroom with a toothbrush. Then my mind caught up.

“Are you scared to go into the ladies section on your own?”

“Yes,” she replied.

Okay, I’ll get dressed and I’ll meet you there.”

Emma was waving to me at the front door when I arrived. Then we went looking for their x-large section in ladies wear. This was easier said than done. Did you know they have an entire section devoted to button up sweaters? I sure didn’t. But we finally found the correct section and started riffling through the long sleeved shirts.

Emma got bored and discouraged quickly.

“I’m going to shop in the men’s department,” she said with a sigh. “At least I know the clothes will fit from there. And, with that she walked off. I kept searching and quickly found several shirts that would probably fit her and a shirt for myself. She was back with me in a couple of minutes.

“Couldn’t find anything?” I asked

“I was too scared to go into the men’s department,” she admitted.

“Well I found a bunch of shirts for you,” I assured her, gesturing to the buggy. She looked pleased with the selection.

shopping for Emma

So sparkly!

Luckily the changerooms here are unisex, just a row of rooms in the corner of the store. Emma quickly found one and started changing. She even opened the door for me to see a couple of shirts. And, by the time she was done, she had at least five “new” shirts.

Then came yesterday. We were at Dollarama when Emma gasped, “I’ve always wanted one of these!”

One of those being a purple infinity scarf. I’m trying to cut back on spending but I bought the darn thing anyways. She put it on as soon as she got home and then she started fiddling with it.

“Look,” she said as she wrapped it around her waist. “It can double as clothing if you lose all of yours.”

I think I’ll pass on that fashion statement.

It’s so nice to get my sparkly girl back again!

On mistakes and taking advantage…

waterfall squareEmma and I went to Toronto on Saturday to spend the afternoon poking around hidden gardens and have dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. We had a great time and found a few lovely man made waterfalls.

One thing I also did was help a few homeless people out. Just simple things like buying flip flops for a man with no shoes, giving change to a pregnant woman, and giving half a sub to an elderly man rummaging through the trash. Nothing we couldn’t afford.

I talk a lot about Emma on the blog but I don’t often mention one simple fact. She’s autistic and developmentally delayed. So you can imagine my concern when she didn’t show up at 3:15pm from her day program. My concern worsened when she wasn’t home at 3:45pm. I was just about to call her when the phone rang.

“I thought he was homeless,” she wailed from the other side of the line.

“Who?” I asked in bewilderment then got a disjointed answer in reply. I finally pieced it together. Someone on the street had a sign asking for help cashing a cheque so they could get a bus ticket home. The cheque was for $800 and he was going to leave $20 in the account for Emma for being so nice gullible.

Luckily Emma has limits on her account and could only take out one hundred dollars. That didn’t stop the guy from snagging it as he was removed by security… two minutes too late. And, double luckily, the bank is only charging her $7.50 for a bounced cheque. We can live with that.

It makes me wonder how someone can take advantage of someone who’s obviously special needs. All Emma needed to do was speak for the man to realize she wasn’t average. Plus she’d have needed help to use the bank machine. I don’t understand people can take advantage like that and, honestly, while I wonder, I don’t think I want to understand.

We had a long talk about only sharing what you can afford. We can afford $4 flip flops, we can’t afford eight hundred dollars. And I explained that cheques aren’t safe, that people can write anything on them and it takes days before that’s discovered.

“But why do banks let this happen?” she said shocked. I had no good answer.

Emma’s doing fine now, happily chattering to herself (and the cats) about computers. Now it’s my turn to shuffle around the budget… and to be glad it’s only one hundred dollars and not the whole eight.