The first step…

Julie, formerly known as Jeremy, wants desperately to transition. Only one thing has been stopping her. Neither one of us knew where to start. The information must have been on one of the missing pages of my parenting books. So I asked someone in Julie’s youth group who transitioned recently and got told he went to the doctor and got referred to an endocrinologist. Yay! That sounded easy.

I booked an appointment with our family doctor and Jeremy proceeded to ask me every day for two weeks if it was almost time for her appointment. It finally came yesterday. So we headed over to our family doctor, who we’ve been seeing since before Julie was born.

To say the doctor was discouraging would be one of the bigger understatements of the year.

“Hadn’t Jeremy been transgender before? And now he’d changed and wanted to be a woman? Why wasn’t he still transgender?”

“The only place Jeremy could go was CAM-H (Canadian Association for Mental Health) and they were only just accepting people who were referred in 2015. It was going to take ages.”

“He’d only had two patients transition before in his 33 years of practise but he had several others who CAM-H had turned down. They turn down a fair number of people, he’d be surprised if they accepted Jeremy.”

“One of the people who transitioned had to stop taking her medication after years because it was so expensive.”

“It was going to be unbelievably hard. Just look at what Bruce Jenner went through and he was…”

I have no idea what he was going to say Caitlyn Jenner was. Famous? Infamous? Rich? An athlete? And all those statements were peppered with “I’m not prejudiced but…”

I listened with one ear while I Googled numbers for endocrinologists. “It wasn’t common,” the doctor explained. “I doubt there’s anyone around here.”

I had a message out for the person I’d talked to and started cold calling. The doctor was right, there wasn’t anyone. The nearest, outside of CAM-H, was in Hamilton; a two hour car ride away and I don’t know how long by bus.

His secretary called back that evening to say she’d found someone in Peterborough, which was closer but still somewhere around an hour or two by bus.

Julie slumped in her room and made stuff on Minecraft while I chatted with a friend of mine who asked me if I’d heard of Carea. They did gender care right from Oshawa. The only catch was Julie would need to have her primary doctor with them. Okay. That was easy enough.

Julie started school this week so we waited until after school before heading over to Carea. One bus! It took us just one bus to get there. And their paperwork asked for her preferred name, sex, and gender. It was nice to see that smile on Julie’s face.

The intake interview isn’t for two more weeks and then there’s another two weeks until a doctor is assigned to her but it’s so nice to have the first step taken.

Defining sexual orientation…

C: Not a person alive hasn’t felt at some point even if it was brief and fleeting some sort of carnal sexual attraction to another person male or female.

Me: *asexual here* no brief or fleeting carnal sexual attraction.

R: But you have two kids….so….

No! Just plain no! Our pasts do not define our sexual orientation (or gender for that matter). Gay men can have ex-wives, lesbians can share custody with ex-husbands, and asexuals can have children. We are all people, with complicated thoughts and behaviours. Our pasts do not define us.

Sexual orientation is not a simple switch; flick one way for straight, the other for gay, the middle for bi. It’s a broad spectrum with a variety of sexual attractions, intensities, and genders. And it’s not always easy to define.

I know of one lesbian who’s happily married to a man. She (with much confusion) loves him deeply and freely admits he’s the only man she’s ever loved or even been interested in. Meanwhile she’s loved several women and would go back to only dating women if anything happened to their relationship. He’s an anomaly in an otherwise lesbian existence and, as much as she loves him, she feels erased of her identity.

Bisexuals and pansexuals exist and remain existing no matter who they’re with at the time.You can be mostly interested in men and only slightly in women (or vice versa) and still be bi. Plus, despite the name, bisexuals can be interested in more than two genders as well. Which overlaps with pansexuals but, hey, sharing is caring.

You can be asexual and have children. You can be asexual with sexual partners. You can be asexual and enjoy sex. The only definition for asexual is a lack of sexual attraction and, even that gets blurred in the case of grey-aces.

In my case, I had no idea asexuality existed. I figured I was broken and spent years trying to fix myself… right up to and including marriage. I wanted children and sex is one easy way to get them, which I did. I joke I built them from scratch. Now that I know asexuality exists and I’m not broken, I’d rather stick with hugging and cuddling.

We all exist on a tapestry of sexuality and it’s no one’s decision except ours as to what thread we chose to weave with. My thread is iridescent, which doesn’t exactly fit in but it’s certainly not extraneous. I think it makes the tapestry look fabulous.

Falling into autumn…

I walked home from the hospital under a canopy of new leaves. Now those leaves are reawakening in hues of scarlet and gold and I’m finding myself curiously adrift. I’d never planned on being alive this long and am at a loss on what to do next.

If my life was a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces would be in mid air, falling out of a featureless box. Each piece an unknown, tumbling down to who knows where.

I’ve applied for disability and have been told they routinely turn people down. But Canadian Mental Health Association will help me appeal when (if) that happens. Jeremy and I are on waiting lists for subsidized apartments… that we’ll get some year. Maybe two years… maybe four? And I’m writing away at novels with no real idea of how to get published.

two-years

I’m watching Jeremy transform into someone I love but don’t always know. They alternate between endearingly sweet and incredibly annoying and lately act traditionally masculine.

“I don’t want to go to PFLAG tonight. As a straight, white male I don’t feel comfortable there.” Jeremy informed me.

It doesn’t happen much but they left me speechless.

“Umm, I thought you were agender,” I commented after a few seconds. Jeremy snorted.

“Mo-om… that was three weeks ago!”

We have potatoes older than that and besides…

“It was yesterday,” I pointed out and they sighed.

“Well I don’t believe in gender and don’t feel like I’m a gender but if I had to choose between male and female I’d pick male.”

Clear as mud?

“You acted and felt more female than male not that long ago.”

Jeremy nodded. “I know. I felt like that then and maybe I’ll change again. I just don’t know.”

“And straight? What happened to ‘hearts instead of parts'” I asked.

Jeremy looked incredibly uncomfortable. “Don’t worry about it,” I said honestly. “Sexual orientation is hard.” They nodded and dropped the conversation so fast.

The ironic part is we actually talked about equal rights that night at PFLAG and how men’s rights need to be worked on too, which they would have loved. I reminded Jeremy that I missed a meeting on relieving anxiety because I was too anxious to go. Stuff happens and sometimes it’s as ironic as fuck.

The pieces of me changed this spring and they haven’t finished falling yet. So far all I know is that I’m different and there’s going to be a heck of a lot more glitter. Jeremy will have to sort themselves out on their own. I’m willing to bet on a fair bit of glitter and strands of coloured lights there too.

 

On Trump and tiny dicks…

I’ve seen a lot of posts and comments over the last few months regarding Donald Trump and the size of his penis. Trump irritates the hell out of me for many reasons. He’s ignorant, rude, racist, sexist, and annoying as fuck. His crass comments about his daughter alone make him a walking sack of rotting dog turds. And I enjoy a good joke about him. The key here is “good”.

Making fun of his penis size isn’t a good joke. He chose to dye his hair butter yellow and style it to look like the top of an ear of corn. He did not chose his penis size. No one floats around, weeks after conception, and hand picks their genitals. Actually I’m not even sure we have hands at that point.

Our feminism needs to be intersectional. We can’t have equality, we can’t have fairness, if we put down people for the size of their genitals; no matter who they are. When we mock Trump for having a small dick, we’re indirectly mocking every male (cis and trans) who has a small or non-existent penis. This joke’s paintbrush leaves too wide a swathe to be considered funny.

There are many things we can laugh at Trump about. His wall, his bankruptcies, his bizarre statements, his backtracking. As soon as we make it about penis size, we veer off of funny and into bullying… and we’re better than that.

Trump

Cupcakes…

Yesterday was beyond busy. I got home from work and had twenty minutes to get ready before taking Jeremy out to see our family doctor. By the time we got home, I had exactly 25 minutes to eat dinner and get to bed. The day pretty much ganged up on me. We had to go to the doctor though; Jeremy’s getting zir wisdom teeth out tomorrow and has that huge needle phobia. The doctor prescribed the same drugs as zie took for the immunization back in February.

While we were there, I brought up the topic of gender. I wasn’t sure if it was necessary or not but figured it might be something worthwhile to mention. Jeremy agreed. The doctor looked confused when I said non binary transgender and admitted he didn’t know what that meant. Could I explain further? I looked over at Jeremy instead; zie was there and it’s zir body.

Jeremy thought for a second then said, “If gender was a cupcake, I’d be a blue cupcake with pink frosting.”

The doctor immediately perked up. “Oh, bigender,” he said and quickly typed this into Jeremy’s notes. The kid’s definitely got a way with words…and a huge sweet tooth.

Poor Jeremy. I don’t think zie’s got any real idea of what tomorrow’s going to be like. Zie’s talking about shopping at Dollarama later and has great plans of hanging out on the computer. I just bought zir a set of soft purple bed sheets and this little stuffie…

A unicorn cat with purple glitter... this pretty much just screamed Jeremy's name.

A unicorn cat with purple glitter… this pretty much just screamed Jeremy’s name.

Jeremy loves the stuffie and was pleased with the sheets, although a bit baffled when I suggested making the bed. Jeremy figures zie can just lie down on the couch tomorrow if zie gets tired of playing video games. Like I said, the poor kid has no idea.

And just because the title of this post is cupcakes…

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Just happy…

“Jeremy? Can you come into my room for a minute? I want to read you something.”

“All right, I guess,” he sighed unenthusiastically.

I heard him push back his chair and resisted the urge to cross my fingers. Sometimes he listens, most of the time he just wiggles around impatiently and changes the subject as soon as I finish speaking. I already had the tab open. I’d had it open for two hours while I worked up the guts to call him in.

How do you describe your gender?

As soon as I started reading, Jeremy began fidgeting.

“Ooo… I like this one, ‘with a “meh” sound and a wavy hand gesture’,” I looked over my shoulder. “Jeremy, stop banging around my pillow. I’m going to sleep with that tonight.”

He snickered. “Mom, you’re going to sleep with your pillow? That’s really weird.”

I grabbed the pillow and tossed it to the top of the bed. Then I repeated the previous comment, complete with hand gesture. I could see from Jeremy’s expression that he’d actually listened this time.

“Yeah, that’s someone describing their gender,” I added then kept reading, “…and ‘alien space prince’-”

“Wait? There’s royalty?” Jeremy interrupted. A grin crept across his face.

“Not really,” I replied. “It’s in their handle though and they used…” I paused to count, “seven words to describe their gender. Janitorqueer said he’s ‘a kaleidoscope of all genders’.”

Jeremy nodded then stayed silent for the rest of the replies.

“Well that’s it for me,” I said as I stifled a yawn. “I’m way too tired to stay up any longer. Go to sleep netbook.” I stood up then closed my netbook. It’s new and the hinges are a tad eager so it snapped shut.

“You just slammed that computer shut. Just wham…” Jeremy blurted.

“Yep,” I said before mimicking slamming something shut quite violently. “Just slammed it to bits.”

I held out my arms for a hug and stood on my tiptoes. Jeremy bent toward me with a wide smile and his expression startled me. Don’t get me wrong, Jeremy smiles and laughs often, but this time it was different. His smile was just that, an expression of happiness with no tinges of anything else. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen him with nothing but happiness on his face. This smile was real.

He let go then scooped his perfume off my dresser where he’s been stashing it. He gave himself a liberal squirt.

“I’m going to make myself some tea before bed,” he announced then he hurried down the hall, perfume bottle in hand.

I screw up quite regularly as a parent but reading that post to Jeremy was definitely the right thing.

Thanks for writing that Tumblr post Micah, it made a difference.

Gender musings…

Jeremy can breath a sigh of relief because this post is going to be more about me than him. Or maybe he won’t. He likes attention.

He commented today that he figures the biggest, most important thing I’ve ever done in my life is give birth to him. I immediately asked him if he was sure this planet’s big enough for his ego, to which he said, “No it’s not but I’ve got another planet to fit the rest of it. That planet’s big but the rent’s cheap so it’s good.”

Where does he come up with this stuff?

Jeremy also told me if he didn’t identify as either gender, he’d want to use the term “that person” as a pronoun.

“But that’s not a pronoun,” I pointed out. “Seriously, try to use it in a sentence.”

He managed the first short sentence then started a longer sentence and floundered. He kept trying to use actual pronouns instead. Then he grinned. “It would be fun,” he insisted. “People would have to really think about what they’re saying and it would make them uncomfortable.”

“I don’t think that’s the point of pronouns,” I replied. “I don’t think that’s why most people use them.”

“It would be fun,” he repeated in a sing-song voice.

My first reaction was anger. I joke around with Jeremy a lot but there’s definitely a time and I hadn’t been trying to be silly. Then I took a closer look. He was silly and giggly… and completely not looking at me. He looked really uncomfortable.

“Have you sorted out your gender?” I asked.

He stared at the keyboard and shook his head slightly. “No,” he whispered.

“I’m sure you will at some point,” I said then paused. “Look, if you ever do want to talk, I’m here to listen.”

That caused him to look up. “Mom, you ask questions,” he retorted.

“Yes, I do,” I replied. “But I also really do listen. Just give me a try sometime.”

Then I went to my room and started to think about gender. I’ve been thinking off and on about it ever since.

First off, I’m female and cisgender (and totally unsure if that needs an -ed at the end). I like being female. I like my body and I like being referred to as she and her. I gave birth to two wonderful people and breastfed them both. I like that my body could do that.

I also like that my body is strong and it rarely hurts. At work, when it comes time to deal with the garbages, I figure I’m the one sent out about 80% of the time. That’s because I can pick the jumbo bags up and heave them into the dumpster. I’ve had coworkers say, “Michelle, this bag is much too heavy for one person. Can you help me take it out?” And then they’re floored when I just pick it up and carry it away. Now when there’s a bag no one can lift (and my weightlifting coworker’s off) the management simply asks me to grab it.

One of my friends posted a link on Facebook a few days ago which listed 20 things all women do. I went through to see which ones I actually did, scored a whopping three, then shared it on Facebook. What I didn’t share was that’s the highest score I’ve ever managed on any of those lists. I found one today where I scored one (out of ten). That was for brushing and flossing daily. I enjoy having teeth.

I had a coworker peer at my face intently a little while ago and say, “Michelle. You really need to do something with your eyebrows.”

My response was to blink at her in confusion until she walked away. In real life I’m witty like that. But when I got home I went on Facebook and announced that coworker was right, I really need to do something with them, so I was going to take them out for breakfast. Which I did. It led to an important self-discovery. If I ever switched to a raw vegan diet, I’d starve to death. Granted that had nothing to do with my eyebrows but it was still an important discovery. I like cooked food; a high five to whomever discovered fire.

Besides, I do things with my eyebrows. If I sleep funny and one brow is rumpled then I wet a finger and smooth it down. And I’ve got this one eyebrow hair that seems hellbent on migrating to my bangs. When it gets too wild and crazy, I get out nail clippers and cut it.

I also found out today that makeup expires and my decade old stuff is woefully out of date. Apparently it’s supposed to be thrown out in 6 months to a year… which would make everything a one use purchase even in a best case scenario. I’m pretty sure I haven’t used makeup since last summer. My “facial routine” consists of splashing water on it in the morning then drying with a hand towel.

And I sing tenor.

Society has too many stereotypes on gender and what girls should be like and what boys should be like. One thing those stereotypes don’t do is take into account how people feel.

I am sure Jeremy will figure out his gender at some point. I’m not saying he’ll sort out which box he’ll neatly fit into. Maybe he will or maybe he’ll fit none of them, or several, or maybe he’ll shift between boxes. But at some point he’ll figure this out. At the same time I can’t help but thinking that gender stereotypes aren’t making it any easier for him.