It’s not natural…

My alarm went off at 5:45am this morning and Jeremy bounced out of zir bed a few seconds later. Zie was awake all night again and had been watching videos on zir smart phone. I turned off my alarm then synched my Fitbit with my phone. Jeremy surprised me by making my breakfast. Hot chocolate (made with cocoa beans farmed halfway across the world) and an english muffin topped with peanut butter… all previously delivered to our 24 hour supermarket by train, plane, and truck.

I had a quick shower, using our wonderful indoor plumbing, then pulled on my work uniform before running out the door to catch the first of my two buses. The sun was just peeking over the nearby mall, bathing the field beside me with light, causing the dew to glisten. My bus hadn’t arrived so I set my phone’s camera onto macro, turned on the flash, and snapped a couple of shots… sending the best one to Instagram before messaging my best friend L and Jeremy. I also chucked it onto Facebook for my friends to see. Karen and my Mom have already liked it.

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I chatted with L while I was on the bus. Zie lives halfway across the world but, thanks to Facebook Messenger and our smart phones, we can chat instantaneously. Then, when I got to work, I reversed the camera on my phone and took a photo of my coworkers and I waving good morning to Jeremy, who was in another city entirely. Zie saw it a few seconds later.

Okay, my life’s boring. It’s also not natural. I live in a freaking high rise, looking off my balcony to see the tops of the nearby trees, our local mall, and a collection of big box stores. Oh and a lot of little airplanes. I’m typing this on a netbook which I can unplug and carry just about anywhere. We have hot and cold running water in the kitchen and the bathroom, even though we live nowhere near the ground, and I currently have vegan “meat” in my freezer (so yummy and so not natural).

You know what’s natural? Love. Love is natural. Look at animals collecting in groups all over the world to cuddle and groom each other. Look at them separating into pairs… some of them with the same sex. I’m reasonably sure they didn’t pick the idea up from liberal sex education programs.

Gender roles aren’t natural. Some animals have sex specific instincts for mating rituals and child rearing but they vary from species to species. Blackie doesn’t worry about her tummy fat. Angel doesn’t worry that she spreads her legs too wide while grooming. Oreo doesn’t worry that his voice is a bit high pitched. And I have yet to see any of them express concern about Jeremy in a dress. They really don’t care as long as zie feeds them (and scratches their neck in that spot just below the ear).

Pizza rolls aren’t natural either but they’re pizza and gooey. Mmm… pizza!

But seriously, if someone wants to complain about love and gender being unnatural, I don’t think they should be using anything unnatural to share that information. They need to go somewhere completely natural and scratch their message out in dirt with a stick. That will get their point across nicely.

Love Wins

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Transgender Day of Visibility

This is the post I wrote on my personal Facebook wall today…

Today is the Transgender Day of Visibility. Jeremy hasn’t been out for very long, only since the summer, although zie’s been edging towards being out for a while before that… testing the waters with both myself and other family members.

One of the hardest things for me is that some of the people I figured would be zir biggest supporters have quietly disappeared (and presumably have unfollowed me). Their silence is obvious and noticeable. What they don’t seem to realize is that I’m not posting for them. I’m not setting out to make them comfortable. My goal is to make Jeremy comfortable and to try my hardest to ensure a space for zir in this world.

Pull out your wallet and take a look at your ID. How many have a space for anyone other than male/female? There isn’t any (at least not here in Canada) and with every form I watch Jeremy’s sparkle fade a little more. My job as a mother is to stand beside zir and I want to make this country a better place for zir and for my trans friends.

I am not going to encourage Jeremy to hide or try to blend in. It might be easier for the rest of society but it is NOT easier for zir; that’s simply a tried and true path to suicide because Jeremy does not (and has not) ever fit in. Zie was born to shine. And I don’t post these things behind Jeremy’s back. While zie doesn’t use Facebook often (and never uses the Facebook profile that most people have) zie is online and does see what I post. The things I post about zir are with zir approval… including this post and the original “coming out” post.

Unlike being gay, trans doesn’t have much of a stealth option. I mean I guess I could continue to misgender Jeremy but, really, short of never posting another picture… how do I hide zir (take a good look at zir picture). Really?

Jeremy waiting for Pentatonix

I’m a mother and I stand up for both of my children, loving them 110% (it’s like one of those super saturated solutions… just deal). I will not back down, unless they ask me to, and I will not be quiet.

Today I will be walking around town with my nails painted in the colour of the trans flag while wearing a trans pride bracelet. Jeremy has the same nails and is wearing purple.

Feel free to like if you want to show support. And if you don’t want to support us, no apologies from me, I’m not changing and neither is Jeremy.

‪#‎NeverDullingZirSparkle‬

March musings…

So Jeremy hasn’t been to school since last Monday. Zie was supposed to have counselling on Tuesday but was too anxious to leave, which turned okay because zir counselor was sick and had just left for home. Zie missed school on Wednesday then came home after Youth Group and cried for a solid night and a good chunk of the next day. One of the worst feelings in the world is being stuck at work knowing your child is hurting… but also knowing zie’s going to appreciate a bedroom and food (which needs a paycheque). Except zie needed me now. Sigh. We were supposed to go to PFLAG on Thursday evening. We didn’t go. Neither did we go to the Youth Led UU service this Sunday, which was also due to anxiety.

Today is tentatively better. Jeremy barely slept last night but wanted to get back on track and stayed up for most of today. Zie spent the day rearranging zir room and has it organized quite well. Which is amazing, usually zir rearrangements look like they were done by overbooked movers in one hell of a rush. Everything crammed against one wall and you have to climb over at least a desk to reach zir bed. And zie hasn’t cried once.

Jeremy’s got counseling tomorrow (knock on wood) and then we’re going to Queen’s Park in Toronto on Thursday to show support of Bill 77, which is a bill to protect LGBTQ youths from conversion therapy in Ontario.

And tomorrow is the Transgender Day of Visibility. I just painted both mine and Jeremy’s nails purple with a top coat of silver, pink, and pale blue sparkles. They’re pretty darn visible…

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My sparkly nails.

Two things happened while I was writing this post. The first was the realization that Jeremy’s anxiety drastically increased when I added vitamins to zir daily routine. Which sent me googling “can B vitamins increase anxiety?” The answer was a big yes posted to the top of the page so I immediately skipped giving Jeremy a B50 pill. The second was when my brain kicked in and said, “Wait? Wasn’t today the day to pick up the prescriptions?” Of course it was and I’m all ready for bed. Jeremy on the other hand hasn’t set one foot out of our apartment since last Wednesday. I promptly requested a medication run and Jeremy cheerfully agreed.

Jeremy got to our front door then called back in a sing-song voice, “See you… wouldn’t want to be you… because I like being me.” Words I love to hear. Zie left wearing a pair of woman’s pants and with zir nails as glittery as a disco ball. Maybe (hopefully) tomorrow will be even better than today.

Dear Don Plett

I read a letter you wrote to a member of a parenting group I belong to regarding Bill C-279. You seem very concerned about women who don’t want to share change rooms with trans women and one lone woman on a Native reserve who doesn’t want trans women (who are escaping assault and trauma) in the shelter she’s running. There are a few other people I’d like you to be concerned about.

I’d like to introduce you to my 17 year old child Jeremy, who is transgender and identifies as both male and female (also known as bi-gender). Jeremy uses the pronouns zie and zir. Zie replaces he/she while zir replaces him/his/her.

Jeremy is an amazing kid. Zie loves computers and electronics. I just watched as zie set up a webcam on our guinea pig’s cage and connected it remotely to zir cellphone so zie can check up on our piggy during lunch at school. Jeremy also set up our new printer a few days ago and connected it wirelessly to our computers and cellphones. I don’t know when I’ll ever need to print a document from my phone but if I do, Jeremy’s made sure it’s ready for me. Jeremy’s a huge Doctor Who fan and zir favourite colour is purple. Zie’s a kind child who always remembers to give me a hug before I leave to work in the morning.

I want Jeremy to grow up in a country where zie, and other trans youths, are supported and protected. Transgender people face extreme amounts of discrimination. They have high unemployment rates due to prejudice, struggle to find housing, face staggering amounts of verbal and physical abuse, and have correspondingly high suicide rates.

Last year I used to send my child off to a group for LGBTQ youths. Each night I’d sit by my phone hoping zie wouldn’t get beaten up on the way home. That’s not a worry this year simply because zie’s too scared to go out anywhere on zir own. Jeremy’s entire social life consists of going shopping with me.

Picture going shopping with your child and seeing person after person not just staring but continuing to stare after they’ve walked past, turning their heads back to continue looking. Picture standing in the line at the cash register as the person in front of you spins around away from the cashier to stare in blatant shock. You turn to realize they’re staring, open mouthed, at your child and continue staring for several minutes. Picture taking a quiet walk with your youth to the local greenspace while people scream obscenities out their car windows at your teenager. Picture walking home from the store while a couple of grown men laugh and point at your child, pretending to run away. The reality is there’s nothing Jeremy’s doing to stand out. All of Jeremy’s clothes are from the mens department and, while zir hair is just a bit below shoulder length, it’s not unusually long for someone who’s biologically male. Zie simply and naturally looks both male and female. Zie can’t try to fit in.

Jeremy had kids approaching zir in the boy’s bathroom in primary school, wanting to see zir privates to make sure zie had a penis. Zie had children harassing zir at 7 years old in the school yard, telling other kids not to play with Jeremy because zie was a he/she. And when Jeremy was around 8 or 9 years old we had an adult neighbour gather a group of local children and teach them to call zir “faggot” and throw pine cones at zir. We managed to get her evicted but what she taught lingered.

While you don’t come right out and say it, I get the feeling your biggest concern is sexual predators. You never mention trans men using male change rooms and washrooms, instead you focus on trans women in female change rooms and washrooms, as if all trans women are predators. The reality is they are no more likely to be predators than anyone else. We have laws to deal with predatory cisgender woman who want to sexually assault other women. Those same laws would deal with predatory trans woman and both incidents would be shocking simply because of how rarely they occur. If our sexual assault laws are weak then continue to work to strengthen them. Don’t strip a bill that’s designed to give some of the more vulnerable members of our country equal rights.

This bill also protects innocent children who are trans. These children look and act like the gender they identify with and they want nothing more than to be treated the same as their peers. Being able to use the same washroom and join the same team as their friends not only helps them emotionally but protects them as well. A young child who looks and identifies as female does not fare well in a male washroom.

Yes, some transgender people are gender fluid and some may indeed use one change room or washroom one day and the opposite the following day. This wouldn’t be for any nefarious reason but simply to use the washroom they felt safer in. I’ve talked to people who will not use the washroom for hours on end because they’re scared of the reaction they’ll face no matter which bathroom they try to enter. We, as a society, need to stop worrying so much about who’s in the bathroom with us and let people simply relieve themselves in peace. More single stall gender neutral washrooms would be a help as well.

You have a chance right now to protect truly marginalized people. You have a chance to allow people equal rights and the ability to simply be themselves. Please help keep all our children safe. Please give my transgender child a safe Canada to grow up in and let bill C-279 pass.

Thank you,

Michelle
(address and phone number redacted)

Gender Identities in Schools…

I belong to a closed atheist parenting group for mothers of all genders. I posted our letters to Just Kidding News there, which turned out to be a good thing because one of my friends belongs to the same group and she just emailed me a whole whack of information. One of the first links she sent me was this pdf file titled Questions and Answers: Gender Identities in Schools published, no less, by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It contains helpful information such as…

There are a variety of identities and expressions that exist on a continuum between male and female including, cross-dressers e.g., drag queens, drag kings), gender-benders and gender variant, gender non-conforming, and two-spirit individuals. For consistency in this document, we use the term ‘gender variant’ to refer to all of the above gender identities between male and female, on this continuum.

And…

Be cognizant of the language being used in the classroom and during school events. For example, texts and lessons that use ‘she/he’ binary ignore the range of gender identities discussed in this document. By using more inclusive language, such as ‘they’ instead of ‘she’ or ‘he’, not only will transgender youth feel more supported but it will also help educate the entire school community about gender diversity.

And even…

Gender variant students are attending schools in Canada, whether or not they are visible to other students, staff or administrators. There are several reasons why gender variant students may not be visible within the school community. First, most gender variant youth are invisible out of fear for their safety. Individuals whose behaviours do not conform to the stereotypical societal expectations of male and female genders are vulnerable to discrimination, verbal abuse, bullying, and physical violence. Second, while some gender variant individuals’ goal is to ‘transition’, a process where their external appearance is altered to cross from one gender to the opposite, there are a variety of other gender variant individuals that do not embody such drastic changes. The remainder adopt gender variant identities at various points along the continuum. For example, some may choose to alter only their dress. Finally, making the assumption that there are no gender variant youth in schools creates a barrier for gender variant youth to disclose their identities or for recognizing students who may be struggling with this issue.

I’ll be printing the whole document out to give to Jeremy’s teacher on the first day of school. While it would have been a huge help this spring when I was discussing using more pronouns in the classroom, it’ll still be a huge help this fall. Plus I’ve got Jeremy’s permission to tell the teacher he’s gender non-conforming, which will also be a help.