How do I know I’m a boy?

Colin used to ask me this so often and it left me confused and a bit bewildered. How didn’t he know he was a boy? It’s something you just know. So I’d answer the question as best I could.

“You’re a boy because you have a penis and when you grow up you’ll be a man. Nothing’s going to change that.”

He’d calmly accept that answer and skip off, while I wondered if he was being bullied again and just wasn’t telling me. He’d already complained about being called a he-she on the playground, which is what I’d chalked the questions up to.

Fast forward through a lot of years, right up to the Q&A we did a few days ago, where Colin answered the question of “How long have you known you were trans” with…

“I honestly don’t know. Looking back, like when I was younger, I wanted to be a girl but I never knew why.”

All the time I thought he was asking because of being teased, he was asking because he felt like a girl. And that just breaks my heart.

But, at the same time, I had no real idea what transgender was. My only examples were Klinger on MASH, who is definitely not trans and a person in our town who was horribly nicknamed Terry the Fairy who paired a dress with hairy legs. I have no idea how he identified.

Our doctor wasn’t very trans friendly, something we discovered last year, and he’d have been sent to see Dr. Zucker, who is known for being transphobic when it comes to children. He felt that teens and adults knew their gender but that kids were flexible and responded “well” to conversion therapy.

I also would have needed to deal with my ex husband, who’d claim the sky was green if he thought it would hurt me. He’d have fought me long and hard and had someone in the background willing to pay for a lawyer.

So, in reality, it wouldn’t have made a difference, other than giving my ex some more ammunition and possibly traumatizing Colin, but I can’t help thinking of how I tried to help and cringing at my words. And I can’t help looking at Colin’s answer and wishing he’d had a better way and better choices.

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Colin playing in our backyard with our friends’ pick up truck

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Colin’s answers…

 

Colin, I would like to know what is your passion, something you always love doing and talking about, or do you have more than one?

I have a few. Computers, video games, and technology in general. On Steam alone I have 170 video games and then I have twelve computers and out of those eight work.

I was wondering, have you gotten more than one medical opinion on the possibility of being able to have biological children if you medically transition? I have read lots of articles about trans women choosing to stop hormones temporarily in order to provide viable sperm. Though there does come a time when it gets past the point of that working. Which could be a worry if you are are really set on having a biological child.
So I know your main reason for not medically transitioning at this time, but I’m curious as to why you have chosen to not continue transitioning socially? Are you truly happy going by male pronouns and using the name Collin? Have you ever considered continuing to transition on a social level while starting to save up money to have your sperm banked? (Maybe one of the online fundraising sites would be useful). Then once you’ve had that done you’d be able to start medically transitioning if you so choose without having that worry. I’m just curious as to what the thought process has been?

It’s more than just that I’m dealing with, more than the fact of having kids. Transitioning, I don’t know how I’d look afterwards. I really don’t have the time while I’m in school so adding transitioning into it really wouldn’t help. I honestly don’t know if I’m happy going by Colin. I’ve seen a few medical doctors and statistics. Statistically there’s been a few trans people who have been able to stop hormones to have a child but it isn’t the majority.

Colin, I am confused why you put so much trust in one doctor that knows a lot less than those in your community (the trans community), in choosing not to transition. I just want to understand where your coming from, as someone who chose not to at a young age, and regretted it in the harshest way later.

The doctor really was helping me out a lot. It also wasn’t just him but others in the transitioning world. It’s not just the fact I can’t have kids which is the problem, I’m having other problems as well. The fear of the unknown strikes again. I don’t know how I’d look. And there’s school, I have a lot of school stuff to do and, once I get into college I won’t have enough time to transition.

Colin, how long have you known you are trans?

I honestly don’t know. Looking back, like when I was younger, I wanted to be a girl but I never knew why.

Would you rather fight one horse sized duck, or one-hundred duck sized horses?

One hundred duck sized horses because then I could just kick them all [vegan Mom: why not just adopt them out]

If you ran the zoo.. which animals would be in it?

If I ran the zoo, I’d definitely have to have, like, a few polar bears, a few lions, a few tigers, and a few bears. Oh and a few horses [Mom: but sadly no duck sized ones], and a t-rex.

Okay cuz I have one… How does a person help support someone who is either going through the changes of becoming another gender is thinking about it? Okay, two questions what kind of advice or thoughts would you like to offer people in general who are either ignorant (by choice) or just don’t know?

Well it’s always different from person to person. The best thing to do is just ask them. Suggest things like PFLAG if they don’t know about it already but, yeah, just ask. If they don’t know, tell them that it’s their choice, they’re not harming anyone, it doesn’t matter, and that should suffice for most people. But if they really hate it and they’re saying it’s for religious reasons that we have freedom of religion. We don’t have to follow anyone’s religion if we don’t have to. You can also mention the high suicide rate for people who can’t transition even though they’re trans. [Mom: J, I have a resources page on my blog that you can share with your friend and, like Colin, I strongly recommend PFLAG both for you and your friend. They welcome allies with open arms and have lots of information, both in groups and one on one]

Colin wants to know if anyone would like him to do a blog post himself. He’s definitely willing.

Colin on the dock

Colin sitting at the dock waiting for the ferry to take us back to shore after our cliff climb

A Q&A with Colin…

We’re going away on a camping trip but, when we come back, Colin has agreed to do a question and answer post. So, if you’ve got a question, now’s the time to ask them. So put on your thinking caps and write your questions below!

We, of course, will reserve the right to refuse to answer inappropriate questions and will delete any wildly inappropriate ones. But we’re looking forward to the rest of them.

Colin bringing plants from school

Colin bringing plants home on the last day of school

Dear Parents, love your children…

Not just your straight, cisgender children but your rainbow children too. My heart is breaking over little Anthony Avalos, who’d been abused for years alongside his siblings, but killed after he came out gay. He was young enough and innocent enough that he didn’t even come out as gay. He said that he “liked boys”.

He was failed in so many ways. People had called the Child Protective Services sixteen times over the years regarding multiple bruises on the children. He finally died of severe head injuries while covered in cigarette burns.

I remember reading a case a few years ago that was almost identical. A young, presumed to be gay boy, a history of abuse of all siblings, a final, fatal beating. The only difference was the boy was around kindergarten age.

And there’d been another case in 2013 where the son, Gabriel Fernandez had been assumed to be gay and was beaten to death while his siblings simply got ignored. Once again the calls about abuse were ignored and they continued with the beatings until he was dead.

That’s enough. Please let that be enough. It’s enough already that 40% of homeless youths are LGBTQIA, kicked out when they come out. It’s enough that 30% of all suicides are LGBTQIA, and it’s way too much that almost 65% of unsupported trans youths have contemplated suicide with 49% attempting.

There’s still conversion therapy with all it’s horrors. Not everywhere but it’s still lurking. The author of one article I read went to one such camp and was told, flat out, by the staff that half of them would be dead by the end. Soon, the youngest, had killed himself and, by the end, half the group was gone.

Little Anthony should be at the end of a month of celebrating being himself, the end of rainbows and confetti, and loud, happy parades. He should have strings of multi-coloured beads hanging off his bed and memories of being welcome. He should not be a tiny figure in a too large body bag.

Colin was six years old. I was taking a load of recycling over to the bins when he asked if he could marry one of his male classmates who he loved dearly. Another time he informed Kait that his heart was broken because he’d asked a boy out and got turned down. Within a year or two he was interested in girls but he certainly didn’t for a couple of years. My answer when I was asked about marriage was “yes you certainly can”, even though we were a few months away from equal marriage being legalized. He deserved the same love and attention as his sister and he got it.

Please, if you cannot handle raising an LGBTQ child, let them go. Call up CPS or CAS and tell them your child is gay or trans and their life is at risk under your care. I don’t care if you have to drop them off in front of the office and leave them there, just get them out of your care before you make them a statistic.

And, for the ones who are simply confused and unsure what to do, take a look into your local PFLAG. They will help you understand what’s going on and give you resources. If you have a local chapter, you can even meet up with other parents and talk about your questions and concerns.

But can we please have no more little rainbow children in body bags. Can we please let them grow?

Colin

Who let the cretins out?

My morning started with a letter from one of the kiwi farmers saying, “You need to quit this shit. You’re mentally destroying your son, for your own selfish reasons.”

It wasn’t really a surprise that they’re back. I don’t know if they’re aware of this but WordPress monitors where people are coming from and helpfully shares that statistic with their bloggers.

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I know that’s small but, if you can’t read it, that’s 11 people from kiwifarms, which is a lot considering they copy each post they “critique”. I use the word critique loosely.

I don’t need to go on kiwifarms to know what they’re saying, in fact I never go there. Last time I discussed them, Kait sent me screenshots of the idiocy so I didn’t have to delve in. There’s only so much idiocy I can deal with. If anyone’s interested they’ll be saying what the above genius said albeit with a few more words.

They are so concerned about Colin (according to them) that they never pay attention to the words Colin himself says. Colin has persistently referred to himself as a trans female and has persistently explained he’s not transitioning because he wants to keep his fertility, something he just told the CAMH worker (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) this afternoon. She told him that’s becoming increasingly more common, I presume as younger people attempt to transition and also want a family.

The kiwi farmers ignore that, in fact they ignore everything he says and make stuff up whole cloth just to make it more interesting for themselves. Sorry, our lives are pretty boring. If you want some excitement, maybe take up juggling swords or something.

A Facebook friend of mine has been beautifying her hate mail so I decided to give it a try with my scrapbooking supplies. I think it turned out quite well.

mental destruction

It really needs to be needlepointed

Then I checked my blog’s Facebook page and found a message from my ex, written through one of his myriad of profiles. He’s not only disowned both my kids (again) but this time he disowned his grandchild. Or, as Colin put it, “He disowned a fetus. Who disowns a fetus?” Then he threatened suicide sometime in the next year. But not now so he can’t get admitted. He’s gone so far as to carry around a letter in his pocket so none of us can visit him in the hospital or attend his funeral.

*wonders if he remembers that Kait’s his next of kin*

Screenshot (2)And no amount of absolute ignorance would be complete without a healthy dose of anti-vaxxers.

A friend of mine posted this gem and I just stared at it for a bit before snagging a screenshot. People actually believe this stuff. Worm ovaries? As a friend of mine said, “Can you imagine how hard those would be to find?” Another friend asked why it had to specifically be Cocker Spaniel kidneys and not a Great Dane. Probably the cuteness factor. They need a cute pup to tug on those heart strings. Cow heart strings to be exact.

As yet another friend pointed out, people today are too far away from serious diseases. They weren’t around for polio for example. They never showed up to school to find another empty chair. People back then stood in line to get their polio vaccine, just like people in rural Africa today will walk for miles to get their children vaccinated. They know the risks. Anti-vaxxers make them up instead.

We live in a society where a child’s death is a shock and almost unimaginable. Children are young and full of life. One hundred years ago people knew different. Children are fragile and illness could (and did) wipe out entire families in a matter of a week or two. That’s why when you go to an old graveyard, you will see a gravestone with a list of names and dates, all the way from little Penelope age 8 months to Matthew age 14. Sanitation made a huge difference with disease control but vaccinations are on the same pedestal for protection of lives. When you look at disease statistics, there’s a huge drop for sanitation and an equally huge drop for vaccines.

Out of the three things I’ve mentioned, it’s the anti-vaxxers who make me furious. They aren’t putting themselves at risk (unless their parents were cretins too and didn’t vaccinate) they’re putting their baby at risk and all the people who come in contact with their baby. The cancer patients, babies too young to vaccinate, children with a severe allergy to an ingredient, immunocompromised people, and the people whose vaccine simply didn’t take. And they sit there smugly claiming everyone else is sheep for listening to the medical field while they read discredited articles and outright fiction. But they’re being told they are the smart ones and it makes them feel special. They listen to people like David Cucumber Wolfe, who thinks mushroom spores are trying to make it to the sun and that mushrooms came from space. Oh and that it’s the salt in the oceans that keeps them from floating away. I wonder how he explains the Great Lakes?

And they’re going to pat their backs on protecting their children with essential oils (which can harm children, don’t do it) and homeopathy (which is another word for expensive water). And they’ll keep patting themselves on the back until more and more outbreaks start. And even then they’ll be idiots. I read a post recently from an anti-vaxx site and a heartbroken mother had a young child die from some vaccinable disease and she sat at her computer saying she would never vaccinate, wouldn’t the vaccine have made that disease worse for her little boy? And I just wanted to reach through the screen and shake her and tell her to wake up, she’s the sheep and the “natural health” people are making a fortune off her and her fellow idiots. Google Mercola’s mansion if you don’t believe me.

But I’m not the jackass whisperer so, instead I’m going to work on my book and have a bowl of minestrone for dinner. And I’ll try to decide if my waist needs me to make another batch of homemade biscuits and if my mind and heart needs another stroll through Facebook and a hundred posts about little stolen children living in cages. Maybe I’ll just use messenger. And the cretins will live their lives and I’ll live mine. And Colin will continue to be female while masquerading as a cis male. And the kiwi farmers will continue to have a conniption fit every time that’s mentioned.

And, yes, I’m going to make those biscuits because life is short and biscuits are yummy.

my biscuits

When love listens…

It was another angry morning. Colin was upset about a video someone produced, wishing single Moms a happy Father’s Day. He ranted through the whole video then pointed out there was only one happy Mother’s Day for single Dads and it had been made in retaliation.

“For a young woman, you sure get awful shirty about feminist issues,” I commented and he exploded.

“I’m not a woman! I’ll never be a woman! I don’t want to hear you say that again!!!”

“Umm okay,” I replied. I mean what else could I say? And he went on ranting about the school system and how it lets down boys and young men.

Our day went by. He went to school, getting drenched on his way, and we went grocery shopping… thankfully between rainstorms. Finally we were home and the food was put away.

“I was reading an article today,” I commented as casually as I could. “Both parents are trans and they both stopped taking their hormones and he got pregnant.”

“That’s really rare,” Colin replied.

I shrugged, “I think it’s a lot less rare than the doctors say. They only hear about it if someone wants to study it. Meanwhile trans people are the ones out there having the babies. Besides, sperm is reproduced all the time so once the hormones die down the sperm will start up again.”

Then Colin threw a curve ball.

“Mom? I can’t transition. What if I end up ugly?” he said, his voice almost a plea.

“You’re not going to be ugly,” I assured him. “Look, I see lots of before and after pictures online and hormones do amazing things. I’ll see a picture of someone who looks like your average man and, wow, she turns into a beautiful woman.”

He just smiled and went off to play video games. Meanwhile I made dinner and thought.

It wasn’t until after dinner that I approached Colin.

“I have something I want to say to you,” I started.

Colin laughed. “And I might hate you for it.”

“Hate me for what?” I asked and he laughed again.

“You’ll find out,” he replied with yet another laugh. At least he was in a good mood.

“I love you,” I started, “and I just want you to know you’re gorgeous.”

He stilled.

hard to fly“You are gorgeous no matter what but even if you transition you still will be gorgeous. You don’t have to be gorgeous by cis standards. You will be an absolutely gorgeous trans woman.”

There was absolute silence for a moment then Colin leaned over for a hug.

“I love you,” he murmured.

“I love you too,” I replied.

Maybe he will never transition. Maybe. But everything I’ve ever read or heard says it gets harder and harder not to be your true self and chances are someday Colin will need to transition. And I want him to know, no matter what, that he’s gorgeous.

Life in the land of Colin…

The phone rang while I was in the washroom. I swore as I got off the toilet and ran awkwardly to my room as I pulled up my pants. It stopped ringing as my hand touched the phone. It was Colin. No one else has that bad timing. I called him back.

“Mom? I’m done school now. Can you meet me at the voting place? I have my one piece of ID.”

I voted

Me voting and looking cute as hell doing so!

And I had his voter’s card. I agreed and went to get ready. I had one foot in the air about to put my shoe on when the phone rang again. Of course it was Colin, he was just getting on the bus. So I got my shoes on and headed out the door with my ID and both voter’s cards. It was a two for one deal. I was getting out to vote and getting in more steps for my fitbit (which is currently at almost 15k steps).

I met Colin by the traffic lights and headed into the school with him, where we both got directed to different stations. I agreed my name and address were the same, listened to the voting instructions and headed off to vote. Meanwhile Colin was busy chatting up the volunteers. I’d finished voting when he finally made it to the voter’s booth. This year we had an electronic counting program, sitting on a cardboard box instead of just a cardboard box with a hole cut out on the top. It beeped. Colin looked intrigued. And then we headed out.

“Do you know what I think would help voting?” Colin asked. He didn’t wait for an answer. “Basketball.”

I couldn’t wait to hear this one.

“In order to vote you’d have to shoot a hoop,” he continued. “There’d be lower ones for people in wheelchairs, otherwise it wouldn’t be fair.”

I must have missed something. “Umm… why would you need to shoot a hoop in order to vote?”

“For exercise!” he exclaimed, looking at me like I’d lost my mind. “We have an obesity epidemic. If everyone had to shoot hoops to vote, think about how much practicing they’d get done.”

I decided not to tell him that some people actually don’t vote and that would increase if shooting hoops became mandatory. There was no point in opening that can of worms.

“If you’re that worried about obesity, you could always go for walks with me,” I pointed out.

He looked affronted, “I walk every day to the bus with this huge red basket!”

The basket doesn’t even reach his knees.

“Besides, I’ve lost 30lbs, which is really hard to do considering I have to eat junk food because we’re broke.”

“I don’t eat junk food,” I pointed out. “And I’m just as poor as you.”

“Well what do you eat?” he scoffed. “Besides lentils.”

“I eat pasta-”

“Bzzzt!” he interrupted.

“-with tomato sauce and lots of vegetables.”

“That’s not healthy.”

“I eat frozen mixed vegetables with-”

“That’s so not healthy,” he interrupted, again. “That’s like 20 or 40 or half the amount of nutrients that are in regular veggies.”

“No, they have the same amount of nutrients as fresh veggies and sometimes even more,” I responded. He looked mulish and I sighed, “Just talk to Daisy, the nutritionist, if you don’t agree with me.”

He nodded then continued, “Do you know what’s really good and nutritious? Preservatives!”

I must admit I did not see that one coming.

“They have them in so many things, even bananas.”

“Bananas don’t have preservatives,” I replied. “They’re picked green and sprayed with a gas to ripen during transit.”

We walked into our building and checked our mailbox then Colin asked, “Do you know what we need?”

I was a bit scared to answer.

“Okay what,” I replied hesitantly.

“Radio free zones. They block out everything. Microwaves, wifi, everything. That way if there’s an alien trying to communicate with us, we’ll have a chance of hearing them.”

I was under the impression that radio free zones were simply camping areas that were more quiet than the rest of the park but I didn’t feel like arguing. I pushed the elevator button instead and held the door for someone else to get on.

“And they help with allergies too, like with people who think they’re allergic to wifi or radio waves. You know, the placebo effect.”

“I thought the placebo effect was for medicine,” I replied. By this time my head was starting to hurt.

“That’s one definition. You can also make someone feel more pain by saying a needle’s going to hurt.”

“Will I find these definitions in the dictionary or did you just make them up yourself?” I asked.

“It depends on the dictionary,” he said scornfully as he followed me into my room.

I opened up Facebook and found a blog post I wanted to read. Meanwhile Colin continued on about radio waves and how if aliens were trying to reach us, we were likely blocking their signal. I didn’t bother mentioning that if their message was reaching us now, they were likely long dead. Meanwhile my head was now pounding.

“Colin? I love you but my head’s pounding and I need some quiet,” I pleaded.

“But it’s really important. There could be aliens trying to contact us right now but our microwave isn’t letting them!”

“I’m serious. Quiet.”

“Fine,” he said scornfully and flounced out of the room. I’d like to say it ended there but that was when the cats started crying for attention. So I fed them and now finally have peace, well as much peace as I can while Colin talks to his computer.

If you’ve ever wondered what life with Colin’s like, this would be it. Kind of like a talk show host doing a stream of consciousness monologue while high. I love the kid dearly but he is very hard to follow sometimes.

And it’s his 21st birthday on Tuesday! We’re going to our local mall on Saturday and meeting up with his cousins to try out the new virtual reality location. Hopefully it’s amazing and fabulous. Just like him.