It’s all you…

Someone close to us recently said that I’m forcing Colin to be trans. That it’s all my idea and he’s just going along with it. First, I don’t think the person realised how much that hurt Emma. Second, how does that even work?

Does he think I went up to Emma one day and said, “You’re a girl” and Emma simply went along with it? This kid might as well have her picture beside stubborn in the dictionary. She doesn’t roll over and accept anything. She’s also the sort of person who, if you say the sky is blue, will not only check but might just argue that how do we really know it’s blue. It could be purple and we’re simply mislabelling it. She doesn’t simply take anything as fact.

How the conversation is expected to go by transphobes:

Me: You’re really a girl
Emma: Well you’re my Mom, you know best
*pulls on dress*

How it would go in reality:

Me: You’re really a girl
Emma: Have you lost your *bleeping* mind?
*goes back to video game*

Maybe he was thinking of something more subtle? Did he think I put subliminal message tapes under her pillow at night? A crooning whisper of “you’re a girl… you’re a girl…” Or maybe hypnosis. Although, quite frankly, if hypnosis worked I’d be running a mantra of “clean your room… put away your running shoes… dishes go in the sink…”. Gender would be at the bottom of the list.

Or possibly mind controlling drugs.

*checks cupboard*
*finds no name acetaminophen*

I mean theoretically it’s mind controlling. It controls your mind into thinking you don’t hurt. But somehow I doubt it could control someone into changing genders. Let alone hold her down and force her to wear women’s shirts.

In reality the truth is simple. Emma questioned her gender for a few years and finally realised she’s a trans female. I simply came along for the ride and to support her. Hopefully this person will realise it soon and support her too.

Our bedtime discussion…

I’m not sure what most people discuss at bedtime but I’m reasonably sure it’s not what we talk about.

Jeremy stomped into my bedroom yesterday evening. “I’m mad at some celebrities,” they announced as they flopped onto my bed.

I put my book down beside me and waited. As far as I knew, celebrities hadn’t done anything to us.

“There are trans celebrities who won’t tell people if they’ve had surgery on their genitals or not,” Jeremy continued. “People are going to continue to be scared of surgery unless they know of people who had it done and say it’s easy and safe.”

I’ve talked to people and watched videos before; easy wasn’t a word that came to my mind when affirmation surgery was mentioned. But I could see their point.

“Besides, celebrities need to let normal people know it’s okay for them to have surgery. That way they won’t worry about having it themselves and once it becomes normal, it’ll be easier to get.”

I ignored the whole ‘celebrities are weird’ insinuation. “Except trans people already get too many pointed questions about their genitals,” I pointed out. “Everyone, even celebrities, need to be seen as more than just their private parts. Cis people aren’t asked about their privates.”

“Except everyone already knows that someone like you has a vagina and they know I have a penis. What people need is information and celebrities can give that,” they said as they Blackie’s tummy. She started purring.

“I think most people get their information from their peers,” I pointed out. “There’s all sorts of groups out there.” And Jeremy wasn’t in any of them. Were their questions just general thought or was this of specific interest to them?

“If you ever need any information you can always come to me,” I added.

Jeremy stopped petting the cat. “I have that information,” they blurted indignantly. “You signed me up for sex ed classes through our church.”

The Unitarian Universalist church has a very liberal and comprehensive program. It does not, however, delve into gender affirmation surgery. I pointed that out and Jeremy snorted.

“You’ve explained that to me too. The penis gets cut in half and turned inside out to make a vagina.” They demonstrated with their hands.

It was a little more detailed than that but they had the gist.

“Has your thoughts about your gender changed at all?” I asked hesitantly.

They shook their head. “I still think gender isn’t real, well society’s version of gender. I still believe in science’s version. People start out with basic bodies of male or female.”

“Well that’s not really science,” I pointed out. “That’s society’s version. Science is a lot more complex-”

“But people are born with either a penis or vagina,” they interrupted.

“Not exactly,” I replied. “People are born anywhere from female to male or in between. Doctors look between a baby’s legs and if what’s there is under an inch, it’s a girl with a clitoris. If it’s over three inches it’s a boy with a penis. And if it’s in between then the baby is intersex and the doctors try to guess what the baby is. They either decide it’s a really small penis or a large clitoris and, if it’s a clitoris, they’ll cut it down to size.”

Three inches sounded big for a newborn. Maybe it was two inches? How would I google something like that?

Jeremy winced. “That’s not fair. They need to let the baby decide when they’re older.”

“I agree and they’re starting to do that now.”

“But what about the chromosomes?” Jeremy asked. “Those say if they’re male or female.”

“Usually,” I replied. “But there’s more than just XX or XY. There’s single X and XXX and XYY.” Or wait, that last one might just be an airport.

“I think people need to stop giving out genders to babies,” they said emphatically. “People can decide when they’re twenty years old what their gender is.”

“Most people know their gender by the time they’re two years old,” I said as tactfully as I could, fully aware that Jeremy’s still questioning at nineteen.

They nodded, “People need to be allowed to transition as needed and they can change their mind if they want to.”

Music started playing from the other room. “Oh, my show’s back on,” they announced. “Talk to you later.” And they left, abandoning Blackie and I.

I wonder what today’s topic is going to be.

colin

Jeremy on a recent walk

What does a woman look like?

What is it with women arbitrarily defining other women? How does someone wake up in the morning and decide they are the gender police, taking up Gandalf’s role and his line of “you shall not pass”? Goodness knows I can barely manage to remember to put my own glasses on in the morning (probably because my eyes aren’t open). No way in hell am I ready to start judging others.

A few months ago I posted a rebuttal to Emilee Danielson regarding her Facebook letter to Caitlyn Jenner on “what defines a woman”. Now I’m seeing articles about an elderly feminist named Germaine Greer and her views on trans women. Which means a conservative anti-feminist and a vocal feminist are both on the same side. Both of them want to define women to mean nothing more than genitals and appearances. Emilee claims someone isn’t a woman if she hasn’t birthed her children without pain medication while Germaine insists that trans women do not “look like, sound like or behave like women”.

Seriously Germaine? You sound like my grandmother’s elderly neighbour who informed me that ladies are not supposed to climb trees. Like my grade two teacher who pulled me aside because my voice was too low to sing with the rest of the class. Like the Sunday School teachers who informed my friend that I, at age four, was going to hell for swinging on the bus seats like Tarzan and colouring pictures of meadows instead of baby Jesus. I’ll see everyone there… I’m bringing vegan marshmallows for s’mores… it’ll be a blast!

So, Germaine, how does someone look, sound, and act female? Is there a checklist I’m supposed to be following? Do I lose points for singing tenor and gain points for birthing two 9lb babies? Now that I put iridescent glitter laces on my runners, do they pass muster feminine wise? Do I need to wear dresses? Do I have to cross my ankles on the bus?

Our bodies are more complex than you imagine. Were you aware that trans women can breastfeed? Did you read about the woman who’s genetically male (XY chromosomes) but gave birth to a baby? Or the woman who was born without a womb or vagina yet was able to become pregnant thanks to a womb transplant? Where do they fit on your checklist?

I have friends who have the XX chromosomes you consider so important and who feel female (which is what I consider important) who think their hair is long when it’s past crew cut length, camp in the wilderness, drive motorcycles, and think body-checking is a fun way to spend the weekend. I have friends with XY chromosomes who feel male and happily spend the weekend sewing, cooking, and knitting.

How about we throw away your 1970’s guidelines on women and move on to the novel concept of letting people be in charge of their own gender. We can let women be treated like individuals. We can let them be the judge of themselves; we can assume that adults should have the right to self-government and bodily autonomy. We can move away from the concept that society is the judge and jury on what makes a woman; that girls are supposed to look, sound, and behave a certain way.

Feminism is about standing with people who aren’t being treated equally and helping them climb up to an equal footing. Feminism isn’t sitting in an armchair and whinging that your opinion should be valued above people’s rights… especially when your feet rest upon the heads of the trans women who have been forced to a societal level beneath you. You claim you use female pronouns to be polite. Fuck that! Do you know why I use the right pronouns? Because they’re the right pronouns. I’m not here to be polite. I’m here to make a difference. I’m here for change.

Busyness

It was April 1st. My Mom called right as I sat down for my break, which was odd as she knew I was at work.

“I just wanted to give you a head’s up,” she said when I answered the phone. “Your ex called and he’s on the warpath. He wanted to know why he hadn’t been told that Jeremy’s transgender. I told him you haven’t been shy about telling people, that you’ve been really open. And when was the last time he saw Jeremy?”

I hoped for a brief second this was an April Fool’s prank but that’s not my Mom’s style. I was, however, impressed by how she’d handled him. Way to go Mom!

“He made all sorts of excuses about living far away,” she continued, “and he’s talking about moving back down in June.”

Just in time for Jeremy’s birthday. You can imagine how thrilled Jeremy is about that. The story he gave my Mom is that I showed up in his suggested friend’s list then he clicked on my picture and saw my latest post. I had just posted about Jeremy but that was set to friends only plus I’d blocked both his accounts.

I called Jeremy at school to warn zir (first time zie’d attended in over a week) then I went to message Emma. I started typing just as their Dad called and I accidentally accepted his call. I hadn’t meant to accept it, not with 30 seconds left on my break.

I couldn’t have just shown up on your page,” I pointed out in exasperation during the call. “I’ve got both your accounts blocked.”

“Well I’ve got a lot of accounts on Facebook,” he replied. I hadn’t realized until then that a smirk could be heard through the phone. He promised me he’d call back soon to discuss Jeremy’s gender. It sounded more like a threat.

Jeremy seemed fine when I warned zir at school but I came home to a weepy teen who desperately needed hugs. We headed out shopping as a distraction then a thought struck me as we left. I’d woke to a friend request that morning, which wasn’t unusual except the person didn’t have any friends in common. I messaged Emma immediately to ask her if the person showed up as a friend of their Dad. She sent me a screen shot less than a minute later of the person’s friend’s list with her Dad right there. By then I’d already deleted the request but still felt creeped out. There was no way the request was coincidental.

We checked out a new liquidation centre that opened up by our place and Jeremy ecstatically found a remote control car to replace the one zie accidentally broke this winter while driving it over a slushy snow bank.

“Look! It has real working headlights! And there’s seats inside and a dashboard that even shows the radio and bumpers and a real suspension.” Zie flipped the car over and bounced the wheels up and down. “This is the coolest car ever!”

I couldn’t afford to buy zir anything right now. “Go see how much it costs,” I said and zie hurried off.

“It’s twenty dollars!” zie yelled as zie ran back, hugging the car against zir chest.

I still couldn’t afford it but this was the happiest I’d seen zir in ages. “Okay,” I said and watched zir smile grow enormous.

I can drive my car all through Toronto tomorrow,” zie pointed out when we got home.

We had plans of going downtown and watching parliament in action, seeing the Ontario government decide on whether to pass Bill 77 on to committee. Bill 77 is a bill to stop conversion therapy on LGBTQ children and youths in Ontario. It was important to have supporters in the gallery.

I looked at the car and figured we’d get to Toronto early and make a few detours through city parks. Then I checked the bus and train times and finally the train tickets. That was when I felt like crying… almost $40 just for the train tickets alone. I hadn’t realized the price had gone up by that much.

It’s okay Mom,” Jeremy reassured me. “We can stay home and I can drive my car through the park.”

That’s why community’s important and valued. I vented on Facebook about how horrible the day had been and immediately had two people volunteer to give me some money so Jeremy and I could go downtown. I accepted the first volunteer (thanks again!).

Yay!” Jeremy yelled. “My car can drive by all the tall buildings!”

We had a marvellous time in Toronto. Jeremy got to drive zir car through Cloud Garden’s greenhouse…

driving zir car

… and then we walked down University Avenue right to the circle.

I knew where Queen’s Park was but had never been there before, which had me sending frantic messages to a friend from the Parents of Transgender Children group.

Do you see the government building?” she asked. I looked around at about a half dozen of them.

Do you mean the reddish one?” I sent back hesitantly. Which it was.

Ooo... fancy

Ooo… fancy

We ended up on opposite ends of the building but finally met and were herded in for our gallery passes along with a youth who was also coming to view Bill 77’s debate.

I'd been picturing something a bit more impressive.

I’d been picturing something a bit more impressive.

Then we had to give up pretty much everything. No cameras, no cell phones, no pens or paper, no food (including water). We weren’t allowed to write or draw or clap. I got told to stop pointing out architectural details to Jeremy in case it disturbed the people two stories below. Then Jeremy noticed the brass finial in front of us looked a bit like a penis and testicles and we got told to stop whispering and giggling. Oops. Finally they moved on to the bill we’d been waiting for and it was overwhelmingly positive. Person after person stood up and gave the bill glowing comments. Several brought up their own struggles as LGBTQ youths. All insisted it was important to protect children and assure them there was nothing wrong with being themselves.

We left as soon as the debate finished (if such a unified front can be called a debate). They hadn’t voted yet but Jeremy and zir new friend were bored (and quite frankly so was I). By then we’d been hanging out in the gallery for almost two hours.

We met up with another friend from the group and her children (who’d sat amazingly well for that whole time) before heading our separate ways.

leaving the Legislative building

Jeremy getting ready to drive zir car some more.

The best part is we got home to find out that Bill 77 passed unanimously. They’re hoping to have it finalized for Pride week in June!

And my ex called during our train ride. It turns out he saw my video from February about raising a trans kid (one of the very few things set to public on my personal page). He wanted to know who “zir” was then informed me he’d never refer to Jeremy as anything other than his son unless Jeremy had surgery and then he’d start referring to Jeremy as she; totally ignoring Jeremy’s actual gender identity. Once again he didn’t ask to speak to Jeremy, saying he’d call that weekend. I looked at Jeremy sitting directly across from me and knew he wouldn’t. But at least that call is over with and I won’t need to misgender Jeremy during our infrequent phone conversations anymore.

Poor Jeremy. Zie was so happy with zir new car and went out twice a day, every day, to drive it in the nearby park. Then zie went out with me yesterday to pick up cat food and drove it ahead of us on the sidewalk. It was one of those “I can’t believe it’s happening” moments. Jeremy drove zir car across the entrance to a nearby strip mall and into the grass beside the pavement just as someone drove up over the curb and across the grass crushing the hood of zir car. Ironically enough the car still works but the whole hood is gone… and we’d bought the last one at a clearance outlet. Zie spent most of last night crying and was upset and agitated through zir whole counselling session today. We’ve looked at a few cars online but zie waffled over them all. I think the hardest part for zir was the person didn’t even apologize… just looked at us holding all the little car parts and walked away.

I’m off this Thursday, maybe I’ll find something then.

heading off to Hogwarts

Objects in the mirror may appear closer…

I can’t remember what we were arguing about but Jeremy yelled, “You’re always after me about my gender identity. You don’t stop and you keep asking and asking until you get an answer.”

That left me speechless. I had literally no idea what to say. I mentioned this to Lenny, saying I had no idea what he was talking about, and zie commented that he could be referring to the blog. That sounded like a possibility but I figured the only way to know for sure was to ask.

We were washing dishes the next evening. Jeremy was in good spirits, laughing and chatting. I figured it would be a good time to broach the subject.

“Jeremy,” I said hesitantly. “Last night you said I keep bugging you about your gender identity. That I won’t stop harassing you until you give me an answer. Do you really feel like that?”

“Well, yes,” he answered.

“Umm… could you give me an example?” I asked.

He thought for a moment then said, “A few days ago you read me an article then asked me for my opinion.”

There’s a time and a place for tact. I figured this was that time.

“Hon, I bet you’re thinking a lot about your gender right now and sometimes that can feel like this much stress.” I held my hands about twenty centimeters apart. “And when I brought up that article it gave you about this much stress.” I held my hands about two centimeters apart. “Then, when you put them all together you have *this* much stress. But it’s not all from what I said, a lot of it is internal.”

He shrugged. “That makes sense,” he said then he changed the subject. I’m not nearly tactless enough to change it back.

And now it’s Canada Day! I need to frost my cupcakes then we’re off to visit friends, eat pizza and watch the fireworks tonight. Hopefully they’ll be real fireworks and not the displays mother nature sometimes shows… there are severe thunderstorm warnings in effect. First sound of thunder and I’m out of there.

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian followers and I hope everyone else has a great day too!