Introducing us…

Julie was very concerned about privacy when I started this blog so I promised we would use pseudonyms and hide our faces. But we haven’t hid our faces in over a year and I share this blog under my real name on Facebook in several groups. And the trolls know our real names too. So here is us.

Julie’s real name is Emma, which is the name I chose for her at birth. Her previous pseudonym, Jeremy, was the name I’d picked for her sister if she’d been a boy. Her birth name (now dead name) is Colin.

Emma’s real name is Kait. Obviously, when I picked out our fake names, I had no idea Colin would pick her pseudonym as her real name. It didn’t cause much confusion in real life because, well, we never use pseudonyms in real life. It did, however, cause a bit of confusion online.

My name isn’t Michelle, it’s Kathleen. The name Michelle had no meaning whatsoever. It’s just the name Colin picked at random one night when I asked for a fake name.

The cats all go by their real names and so does the frog LOL.

And my sister Karen is really Jen.

So there you have it. Kathleen, Kait, Emma, and my not very often mentioned sister Jen. Now off to update everything!

The grass is always greener…

When Jeremy first came out as non-binary, they trialed using they/them pronouns for just under a week before switching to zie/zir pronouns. I was pleased in one way because they’d chosen the same pronouns as my then best friend (now ex-boyfriend). The rest of me was disappointed because no one had ever heard of those pronouns before. If they weren’t mishearing zie for he and zir for her, I was getting “what did you just say?” and “how do you use that?” at the best and complete ignoring the pronouns at the worst. It tended to be me that got the comments simply because Jeremy doesn’t usually refer to themself in third person although they got an earful and a half at school.

Now, after two years of explaining to pretty much everyone what zie and zir are, how to use them, and why Jeremy’s using them in the first place (all of this with their permission), they’ve switched back to they and them. My first thought was ‘cool… easier pronouns’ and my second was ‘damn, I’ll need to reexplain to all my friends… but at least it’ll be easier’. Famous last words and all of that.

My Mom and sister’s first reactions were they is plural, which is true but not completely. The English language has plenty of wiggle room and people from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Austen have used singular they. It was fairly common in the 16th century too (according to the Oxford dictionary). And it’s not like the English language is static. You used to be only used as a plural pronoun, with thou as singular. I’m sure people can handle the transition to using singular they too.

Then I needed to talk to a mental health care professional. You know, someone who should have regular involvement with the LGBTQ community considering the depression statistics.

“My offspring’s name is Jeremy. They’re 19 years old,” I explained with Jeremy standing beside me.

The woman proceeded to glance, bewildered, around the room for an extra offspring. “They?” she asked hesitantly.

Because this isn’t 2016 and no one’s heard of singular they before. Although, considering she wasn’t the first or last person confused over this, maybe most people haven’t.

I think the weirdest and funniest thing is there seems to be a subset of people who think I’m forcing Jeremy to pretend to be trans for some unknown reason. I don’t get any money for this blog (or for spouting my mouth on Facebook for that matter) and Jeremy’s not meek and laid back; they are tenacious with strongly held views. To be fair, their mildest view, in one way, is regarding gender as they don’t particularly care what pronouns they’re called… as long as it’s not incessantly “he/him”. But that’s because Jeremy doesn’t hold firmly to any gender and think all genders should be abolished. And that’s *cough* a strongly held view on their part. I’ve explained to them multiple times that many other people like having a gender and identify strongly with their gender (myself included). It whooshes right over their head. According to them, gender is the root of societal evil and that’s that. Alrighty then.

If Jeremy was male, there would be no way anyone could miss it because they’d be telling everyone within ear shot that I’d lost my mind and couldn’t handle them being he. It would be their only topic and one everyone under the sun would know about. But they aren’t and they don’t. If the people who think I’m forcing them would try using female pronouns even once, and saw their smile, they’d know this for themselves.

I have one quirk regarding the pronoun and that’s treating singular they the same, grammatically, as plural they. “They’re going to the store” sounds so much better than “they’s going to the store” and it makes me sound so much less like I stumbled into a sitcom about the deep south (which would even more farther south than Oshawa or even Sarnia). If Jeremy felt strongly about grammar, I’d swallow my mild discomfort and singular they every contraction, but they don’t.

So, after two years of thinking they/them would be so much easier to explain, I’ve discovered it’s not. The good part is I’ve at least got Jane Austen on my side.

My dear fellow cis people…

I love you, I really do but having some of you around is like trying to explain your elderly pet.

“Ignore those growls, he’s really sweet once you get to know him. DON’T LEAVE THAT ON THE FLOOR! Sorry, he’s slightly incontinent and pees on hats. It’s not wool, is it?”

I’m going to write a few suggestions. Please read and share with your cis friends. The more people you reach, the less “those cishets” comments I get to read. And more importantly, the less vulnerable and depressed friends I need to reassure about their gender. This is very important because I’ve got a few friends who are really damn suicidal.

My first suggestion is to read my handy Introductory Guide to Trans (written from a cis point of view). You can read anything informative that you find, I just happen to have mine handy (and it explains what cis means). My second suggestion is to follow this easy list.

  1. Please don’t use elementary school knowledge to define someone else’s gender. Seriously, this is the only time people use childhood knowledge as proof. We don’t walk around saying, “Well Miss Smarty Pants! You say you have grey eyes but I learned in kindergarten that we have blue, brown, or green eyes. It’s basic knowledge!” or “You say the heart has four chambers and rounded edges but my four year old draws it with two bumps and a point. Plus it only has two chambers… if you fold it in half! What do you say about that Mister Cardiologist?”

    Gender is complex and only now just being understood. If your knowledge is from elementary school and secondary school, trust that you don’t know it all. Accept people’s knowledge of their gender to be correct instead of what you barely remember from grade nine biology.


  2. Don’t ask people about their genitals. At all. Ever. If you’re crawling into bed, you’ll find out soon enough. There’s a limited amount of variety and you’re either going to get a vulva (which I think looks a lot like Cluthu’s less cute cousin), a penis (which looks like a drunk with bad drawing skills sketched an elephant), or something in between. It’s not a surprise. It’s not like your bed partner is going to pull down their pants and, wow, there’s that pony you wanted for Christmas when you were four.

  3. No questions about surgery either. C’mon, it’s shocking if I mention I’ll probably need a hysterectomy, which means it should be equally shocking to ask anyone if they’re having top or bottom surgery. And they’re not chopping off their penis or breasts. If you’re that curious just google. Google doesn’t care what you search.

  4. Bathrooms. Here, in North America (as with most of the world) we have these magical devices called doors. We’re not peeing in a trough with everyone beside us… at least us girls aren’t. Quite frankly, I don’t care if the woman beside me has a full beard as long as she feels safe going into the stall beside me. And, for the transphobes, I just saw a woman yesterday feeding her baby while sporting a fine, full growth of 5 o’clock shadow. You cannot tell if a woman is trans. You can assume but you can’t tell. Don’t harass people going in to pee, don’t claim you’re doing so to protect “the girls”. I can assure you that every single trans woman I know would end up beating the crap out of someone abusing a kid in the washroom. My cis friends would too.

  5.  No arguing with people about their gender. It’s their body and their mind. They know their gender better than you. That includes people who currently have no real idea what their gender is. I assure you that the person you disagree with does, in fact, possess at least one mirror and has knowledge of what their genitals look and feel like. There is nothing you can say about their gender which would be a surprise. It’s not like you’re going to say, “You’re a girl” and they’re going to say, “Wow, I never noticed that vulva before. You’re right!” They can sort out their gender without your input. All that’s needed is some back up support.

  6. Do not out anyone without their permission! You have friends, not trans friends to make you look cool and trendy. They’re people, not Pokemon critters. And, as people, they deserve the right to privacy. Introduce people by their names, not their genitals. This is my friend Sarah, she was my friend in high school and played the tuba. Not, this is my friend Sarah. She was Freddie in high school and played the tuba.This ‘no outing’ goes for anyone who’s LGBTQ or anyone with a secret. You don’t decide when the secret is shared. Not your secret, not your choice.

  7. Make friends with people, not their gender. Your trans friends are friends, not collectibles. If you’re not talking about their relationships, chocolate, coffee, jobs (or lack thereof), pets, lack of interest in doing the laundry, etc then are you really friends?

Jeremy had a friend over last week who shared her cold with us and this list is ending now so I can go for a popsicle run. I have the sweetest picture of Jeremy curled up in my bed while hugging zir cellphone but I’d like to live to see 47 years old so you’ll all have to live without it. Be kind, no staring, and no peeing on hats (metaphorical or otherwise).

 

Words kill…

It could have been me.

I’ve seen these words written so many times this week. And it’s true, it could have been me. Not at the Pulse; the chances of me being in a club are nil, especially at 2am. I’m more of the ‘cuddle and read at the library’ type (seriously, someone needs to make a cuddle and read club). But the LA pride parade was a target as well and, beyond that, where else? Is it safe to attend pride days at amusement parks? PFLAG meetings? The Trans Night of Remembrance services?

Jeremy and I were on the bus to our local Orlando vigil on Monday when zie turned to me and said, “I bet someone’s going to shoot up one of the vigils.”

“It won’t be ours,” I assured zir. “Our city’s too small.”

Not the best reassurance but it was all I had. Then we got there and zie saw the crowds. Instantly Jeremy became agitated, snapping at me for not knowing exactly what was going on and terrified I was going disappear and leave zir alone in the crowd.

“I can’t do this,” Jeremy admitted a few minutes later. “I’m scared I’m going to be too loud and stand out too much and look different. I’m too anxious. I really need to go home now. Please can I go home?”

I tried to get zir to watch videos on zir phone until zie calmed down and offered a breathing app but Jeremy was too scared. Zie blamed zir high school teachers for picking at zir every time zie stood out in some way and I agree that didn’t help. But I also blame every single person who blatantly stared at zir at the store and on the sidewalk. Every rude comment yelled from cars. Every conversation and discussion that treated zir rights as different and a bit less. Each month my peacock of a teen fades a bit more. And in this space, where Jeremy should have felt zir safest, zie was scared.

Words kill in a myriad of ways.

I have spent my whole life being labelled as different, weird, strange, odd, quirky, freak, a loner. I sat in a therapist’s office yesterday and detailed the bullying I remembered from school, from the little I actually remember about school. I’ve blocked so much of it. She’s been a therapist for years. I figured she’d heard just about everything. Besides, what I went through wasn’t that bad. I’m struggling because I’m weak. I’m sure people have been through a lot worse. Then I watched as her face registered shock and horror. At the end, she went through all the paperwork I’d filled out and tallied the results. Severe depression. Severe anxiety. Extreme risk of suicide.

“Mom, there’s only two times you’re allowed to jump off our balcony.” Jeremy told me. Zir voice was serious. “If you learn how to fly or if there’s a zombie right behind you.”

I stay because there’s family who love me and friends who care and three snuggly cats I’d confuse and upset. Maybe someday I’ll stay because I matter, maybe someday those words will mean something. But that’s not today. I’m tired right down in my soul… in the deepest part of myself. I’m tired of always being a few steps off. Even in the LGBTQ community, I don’t exactly fit. I’m ace. I got married long before I’d ever heard the word asexual and long before I’d ever fallen in love.

If you’ve never been in love, how do you know what it is? How much stronger is it than friendship? What if you’re friends and he loves you? I figured it must be love and tried my hardest… but it wasn’t. And then I fell in love with my best friend, who was non-binary at the time and then male. I always figured I was straight because I look at pictures of men and think they’re cute and cuddly but don’t feel the same urge to snuggle with women. But I also think androgynous people are cute… and friends. I’m sexually adverse to the thought of a vulva but sexually indifferent to the thought of a penis and in both cases would much rather snuggle. And how do you sort out sexual orientation when you’ve only been in love once? That’s about when I figure, fuck it, I’ll just get another cat instead of dating.

They were offering free pins for LGBTQ people and allies at the vigil on Monday. I searched through but nothing really fit me. What I needed was a “confused as hell but still here” pin. Which pretty much sums up my whole life.

Words kill in another way. Sometimes the hatred blows outwards instead of in.

People are baffled by how or why the shooter could have shot up the bar he frequented. Who knows why? Well, maybe it’s because he lived in a culture that considers LGBTQ people to be lesser and regularly talks about shooting them. I’ve lost count of the number of quotes I’ve seen this month alone that read along the lines of “If I see some freak in the washroom with my wife/daughter, I’ll shoot them!”

Maybe he felt trapped. Trapped by a society that sees gay people as different and by a state that fights for less protections… less rights. Trapped by a family who based his worth on the wife he needed to produce the son who’d carry his name. Maybe he felt worthless because of everything he read, saw and observed over the years. Countless school yard slurs, jokes, and manly put downs. Maybe he was angry because he went to the bar and saw everyone else having a good time… and how dare they be allowed to be open and themselves while he couldn’t. He couldn’t know their stories… their families… their pasts… but he could see their happiness. I have yet to see an article which talks about him being happy. He couldn’t change society or his family but he could buy a gun. And the society that taught him to hate handed him one. I don’t have much sympathy for someone who destroyed so many lives but I do want society to stop producing more of him.

Words kill. We need to stop telling people… telling children… that they need to be tougher, stronger, and braver. That they’re hurting until their souls bleed because they’re too weak. We need to fix society, just like Leelah asked a year and a half ago. How many more will die before we succeed?

vigil bags

An update on “How not to react when your child comes out as gay”

Last summer I posted about Daniel Pierce’s coming out video, showing how horribly his family reacted when he told them he was gay. He recently posted an update to detail how much his life has improved.

Sometimes there’s good news 🙂

Daniel Pierce

Link to article 🙂

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

This is a “no closet” family…

I say this on a regular basis simply because we have three cats (now four since Emma moved in with Tiny Tiger) so I’m often fishing a cat out of a closet before shutting the door. It’s said as a joke but also as a reminder to Jeremy that no one in this family needs to hide themselves. This includes me.

So… I’m reasonably sure I’m asexual. So far the only people who know are L, Captain Glittertoes, and my teenagers.

And, well, now almost 18 hundred more people.

*waves sheepishly*

This is my story. I make no claims to be average. Your mileage may vary.

My Mom and I started reading the Clan of the Cave Bear series when I was a teenager. We found the first book enthralling but were less than impressed by the rest. The first book was a fascinating insight into what life might be like in a neanderthal clan while the later books slowly devolved into what Ayla and her boyfriend(s) enjoyed the most between the sheets. At first I worried that my discomfort with the author’s highly detailed pages of sex meant something was wrong with me but my Mom’s equal discomfort relieved me. We gave each other warnings of which pages to skip. Eventually it felt like I was skipping half the book so I dropped the series. My Mom gave up a short while later.

The first “sex dreams” I remember involved meeting a young unknown man who was kind, gentle, and assured me that he was so small I wouldn’t feel anything. I never told anyone about those dreams (until now). I knew they were weird. I also knew simply not dating wasn’t an option a) because I wanted the close connection of being with someone and b) because that would prove all my bullies right, that I was too stupid/weird/ugly to ever find someone.

I didn’t start dating until I was in college. My ex-husband was introduced to me by his mother and I was attracted by his geeky shyness. He gave me flowers on our first date then gave himself an entirely too audible pep talk on holding my hand. His awkwardness was endearing. Too bad it didn’t last.

Thanks to a medical condition called vaginismus, it took us months to consummate our relationship. I’m sure my ex thought he’d died and gone to heaven as I tried multiple positions in the hopes of finding one that would be equal to (or hopefully better) than chocolate. I never did. I loved the physical closeness and the feeling of skin on skin; otherwise I simply enjoyed his enjoyment of the experience. My eventual favourite position was one that felt, to me, like the world’s closest hug. As our marriage deteriorated, my ex began complaining about my lack of interest in trying new things; telling me the different things his ex’s were willing to do. That was not any sort of encouragement, bedroom wise at least. It was just another example of why I was no longer interested in him in any way.

When we broke up I figured I’d meet a new man and fall in love. Maybe we’d meet at the park, bringing our mutual kids there to play, or chatting on the corner while waiting for a parade to start. I never did meet anyone though. Sometimes I’d think about trying online dating but would panic and push the thought aside. Sometimes I’d tie creating a profile to dieting, promising myself that I’d make an account once I’d lost some weight. Then I’d promptly gain more. Occasionally I’d dream about meeting a wonderful man. I’d picture a first meeting at a coffee shop with us finding common ground in geekery and books. Then I’d move through our imaginary dating until we reached the bedroom. At that point my mind drew a curtain around the whole thing, saying we’d “do stuff that felt good”. Yes I censored my own (not really) erotic daydreams simply because I couldn’t think of anything that would end up with the mind blowing “better than chocolate” sex that people talk about. The best I could do was figure he might guide me to what everyone else said was amazing.

I didn’t really start wondering about asexuality until a few months ago when I was talking to someone (who shall remain nameless but is most definitely not Voldemort). She mentioned offhand that if she has trouble sleeping, she just masturbates to orgasm and that relaxes her enough to doze off.

I stared at her in complete surprise then blurted, “Wait. You can do that?”

Most of the time, touching down there* is about as interesting as rubbing my elbow and produces much the same results. About once or twice a year I’ll wake up with a full bladder and an urgent need to relieve myself in more ways than one. It’s nice because it feels good (although still not as good as a good quality chocolate**). It’s also a freaking pain in the backside because then I’m stuck on the toilet for ten minutes waiting to pee. I can think of a lot better things to do at 3am than sit in the dark on a cold toilet while my cats alternate between crying at the closed door or sitting in the crack of the door playing Gandolf “you shall not pass” with the other kitties.

It took me a month before I broached the topic of mastubation and sensation to a secret group for mothers with mental illness. I was reassured that there was a wide range of normal, which was nice but not what I’d hoped for. What I really wanted was for someone else to broach the topic of asexuality so I wasn’t left wondering if I was just imagining things. It took another month after that for me to bring the topic up with Emma, L, and Captain Glittertoes, although with a lot less detail than I’ve written here.

*waves awkwardly*

And now here I am. Since I’ve stopped mentally pressuring myself to find a guy and start a relationship, I’ve begun to make a more serious effort in losing weight and eating healthy. The hard part is that I still would like a relationship. I miss hugging and kissing. I want to wake up in someone’s arms and have someone to joke with while washing dishes. I’d love to see the Northern Lights for the first time and have someone admire them with me. And I have no idea how to find someone short of wearing a t-shirt that reads “I love hiking and all things geeky but don’t want sex. Are you still interested?” And *cough* I’m so not wearing that. Even if it had a TARDIS on it.

I so want to do this!

I so want to do this!

* yes I know the names of all my body parts and use them and talk about them to my own children. No, I don’t feel like using them right now.

** thanks to all the chocolate references, I’m now baking chocolate chip cookies. At least I can freeze them for lunches.

One whole year…

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I wrote my first post. I’d spent the previous month pondering whether I should start a new blog. I already had one, which was well known to family and friends, but I found myself with lots to say and, since I didn’t want to ‘out’ my kid, nowhere to write it. Plus the few blogs I read were about younger kids, which meant we were dealing with completely different situations. I figured if I couldn’t find blogs about what I was dealing with, there was a space my blog needed to fill. I picked WordPress because my original blog was on Blogspot (I worried my new blog might inadvertently get linked to the old one if they were through the same site) and carefully wrote out an introduction. The rest, as they say, is history.

So much has changed this year. When I started writing, Jeremy was an effeminate young man who thought “he” might be bisexual. Today zie identifies as bigender trans and says zie’s interested solely in women. Zie doesn’t identify as straight though, which makes sense considering zie identifies as partly female. Jeremy’s been struggling with anxiety for a while, becoming increasingly house-bound. Jeremy missed our Solstice Service last night plus the last PFLAG meeting due to anxiety. Zie started on EffexorXR two days ago and I’m hoping it will make a difference.

Writing this blog has made a huge difference for me. I’ve made several friends through here and have found two groups for parents of transgender children (one of which is linked on my resources page; the other is a secret group). The friendships and groups also gave me the confidence to start attending our local chapter of PFLAG, which in turn has a teen group for Jeremy.

In real life I’m quite shy. The support and encouragement I’ve received here has helped me stand up more in real life. I’ve become more vocal and huggy at work and, well, more vocal everywhere. I had my Christmas party on Saturday and a friend of mine started talking about one of my former neighbours, someone I didn’t know (we’re talking about a 20 storey high rise… there are a LOT of neighbours I didn’t know). The neighbour is FtM trans.

“She was a really ugly female but now she’s really hot,” my friend continued.

I’d said “he” several times as she’d talked but my friend remained oblivious. This time I marched over and stood in front of her, my hands on my hips.

“He,” I said firmly. “He’s really hot. He was never female and you need to stop referring to him as she.”

“Oh, sorry,” my friend said and switched to using he. I then gave a mini talk on hormones and how sex organs develop before brains while my friends listened with obvious interest. This isn’t something I would have done a year ago. This isn’t something I really knew about a year ago.

And now we’re moving on to Christmas and 2015. I can’t wait to see what the following year brings 🙂

Friends and family…

I wrote a letter two days ago and, after reading it to Jeremy and getting zir approval, I posted it on Facebook. This is the letter…

Seventeen and a half years ago the doctor told me I had a baby boy. The doctor was wrong. Jeremy is transgender, identifying as non-binary trans or bi-gender. Zie explained this to our family doctor as “if gender was a cupcake, I’d be a blue cupcake with pink frosting”, which has got to be the sweetest analogy ever.

Since Jeremy isn’t male, zie is no longer using the pronouns he and him. Instead zie’s using the pronouns zie and zir. These are not hard to use. Zie is used exactly the same as he/she and zir is used like her/him. You can read an excerpt of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland here to see them in action: http://genderneutralpronoun.wordpress.com/about/alice/zie-zir/

If you care about and respect Jeremy, you will use these pronouns. It is that simple. You will slip up and make mistakes. I do and so does Emma. Heck, so does Jeremy for that matter. The important part is simply trying. What I find helps is using the pronouns when you’re thinking about Jeremy, that way it becomes a habit.

There is a 41% attempted suicide rate for trans people (compared with a 1.6% rate for cisgender people) mostly due to a lack of acceptance. Jeremy has already expressed thoughts of suicide. That 41% is not an abstract number, it is real and terrifying. Using zie and zir for pronouns makes Jeremy feel safe and accepted. Please use them, especially if you see zir in real life. It will make a huge difference.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you 🙂

The response was overwhelmingly positive. So far 60 people have liked the post and I got a wide assortment of comments like…

I’m sure you took a deep breath before sitting down to make this post. It had to be a hard one to type up… I hope you and Jeremy are met with loving and accepting responses to this post. I know meeting you and hearing so much about Jeremy has been an eye opener for me. I try my best to be open-minded and accepting of others, and you all have helped to open my mind in areas that I didn’t realized it was closed. Thank you, Michelle and thank you, Jeremy.

Zie is a sweetie, always has been 🙂

Zie is adorable. Every time you post zir pictures, I just want to go all cheek pinching Auntie on zir.

Followed by…

BUT YOU’RE SO FLIPPIN ADORABLE, JEREMY! COME LET AUNTIE SQUISH YOUR CHEEKS!!!

Huge hugs to both of you and the rest of your family! My oldest is also trans and having a family that supports them is so super important! I just want to give zie a big ol’ hug!!!! If you also need any support info, I have tons of stuff!

What a brave zie! So proud of you both for sharing this. This zie and zir is not something I had heard of before. Thank you!

Great pronoun explanation! I’m so happy Jeremy is so strong and free to be true to zirself, and has a great family and friends that has zir back! (How did I do? lol)

Zie is so adorable. Please give zir a hug from me (I will refrain from cheek-pinching!)

Yay!! Coming out is hard but so worth it. Good for zir and good for you!!!  Also… I guess you’re no longer obligated to write “kidlet” several times a sentence, eh? lol 🙂

Everyone deserves to be happy in his/her/zie/zir body. So glad Jeremy has a family who supports zir.
Now if we could just get the rest of society on board….

I’ll be honest. Posting this on Facebook was more for me than Jeremy. Zie has a Facebook account but never uses it, meanwhile I’m on Facebook multiple times a day and I was growing increasingly tired of avoiding pronouns. Besides, as one friend commented via message (and as my Mom said when I told her originally), it wasn’t really much of a surprise. Now we can move on and I can use pronouns again. I was using kidlet a lot.

While I posted my letter, Emma wrote a poem for zir sibling.

Jeremy

To call Emma supportive might be a bit of an understatement 🙂

Then came the disappointing part. I have 22 relatives on Facebook (not counting Emma and Jeremy). Not a single one of them commented or liked the post. Karen posted pictures within minutes of my letter and an aunt popped up to comment on the pictures. But silence on my page. With 60 likes and 85 comments, there’s no way my post was missed. Facebook loves posts like that; I’m sure it’s still showing up at the top of people’s pages.

I have no idea if we’re being gossiped about. If we are, we aren’t hearing about it. And, if they aren’t being supportive, I don’t want to hear about it.

The best part about my letter is my friends. Every single reply since I’ve posted has used Jeremy’s proper pronouns. Maybe, with some luck, my family will see it’s not odd to be supportive and they’ll follow suit.

The letter…

This is the letter I wrote for my Mom, Amy, and Karen. Thank you for all the helpful suggestions!

*************************************************************************

I think Jeremy was about eight years old when zie* found a scrawled message on a nearby bus shelter and wanted to know what it meant.

“I wish I was a girl”

I looked at the words and didn’t know what to say. Obviously I’d have to give some sort of basic explanation of transgender but I had no idea how to broach the subject. I decided to try for the empathetic route.

“You know how you look like a boy on the outside and feel like a boy on the inside?”

Jeremy stared at me blankly and shook zir head. Now I wish I could go back and get zir to elaborate but back then I simply went on by clarifying that most people look like a boy on the outside and feel like a boy on the inside (or vice versa with girls). Jeremy seemed satisfied with my explanation and the conversation moved on from there. Zie doesn’t even remember it but it obviously stuck in my mind.

And on we went, with people sometimes thinking Jeremy was a boy… and sometimes a girl. With kids (and adults) calling zir names ranging from he-she to faggot. One neighbour, a grown man at that, used to throw garbage off his balcony at Jeremy every time zie walked through the back door of our building. Thankfully they moved shortly after he started. I posted pictures of their moving truck on Facebook and baked a cake to celebrate.

It wasn’t until this year that Jeremy became more obviously uncomfortable with binary gender names, begging me to ask the teacher to explain other pronouns and arguing with the EA that male and female aren’t opposites and that you can feel like both. The teachers decided zie was simply being contrary. I decided to do some research and had several in depth conversations with Jeremy.

Jeremy identifies as non binary transgender. To break it down, gender is a spectrum and, just like a rainbow where the colours red and purple connect instead of staying on different sides of a line, male and female are not opposites. The vast majority of people are born with the sex characteristics of a man and identify as male… or the sex characteristics of a woman and identify as female. These people, aka us, are called cisgender (with a soft c). Everyone else (unless they choose to be called otherwise) falls under the trans umbrella.

Non binary simply means zie doesn’t identify as male or female. Some people identify as neither gender (agender) and some flow between the two. Jeremy consistently identifies as both. This is hard in our culture. The Bugis society in Indonesia has five genders; Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan have the hijra, MtF trans people who have a long history of being considered good luck; and some Native Canadian tribes have a tradition of two-spirited people, who were valued as teachers and spiritual leaders. Our culture ignores the reality that not everyone fits into standard binary roles. This is slowly changing.

Something our society currently lacks is non-binary pronouns. Jeremy tried going with the pronoun “they” for a short time but ultimately found it awkward and confusing. Zie claimed it felt like zie had 50 personalities. We found a list of pronouns and went through it. Jeremy decided on zie/zir, the same pronouns that my friend Lenny uses. Zie is used the same as he and she, while zir is used the same as him and her. Both are pronounced phonetically with zie sounding like “zee” and zir sounding like “sir” (but with a zed sound). I’ve found a link that shows the pronouns used in a portion of “Alice in Wonderland” to give you an idea of how to use them.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to use these pronouns. I know they seem awkward and unwieldy, and you will make mistakes, but I can assure you it will mean the world to Jeremy. Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and everyone started calling you he, him, and sir. It might simply be weird at first but then picture it stretching on for days… months… years. The attempted suicide rate for trans people is currently at 41% and that’s from a lack of acceptance. I don’t want Jeremy to be a statistic and I will do everything I can to make zir feel safe and welcome. I’m sure you will as well.

I’ve found a video by a group of teenagers explaining the importance of pronouns and hope it will help.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.

Love, Michelle

* zie and zir are the pronouns Jeremy prefers. They are fully explained in the letter.