On hair and gender…

“Can you cut my hair when we’re at Nana and Grandad’s?” Jeremy asked.

“Umm… yes,” I replied. I was a bit startled seeing as I’d cut their hair just over a week earlier. “How short?”

I was hoping they didn’t want too fancy a cut. I have no hair dressing skills. I can barely manage a simple braid and bang trimming. Well, hair dressers don’t seem to think I can manage bangs but my kids have never complained.

“Buzz cut,” Jeremy said happily. “You can use Grandad’s clippers.”

This was obviously going to be harder for me than them. I’d spent years fighting against so many people for their right to wear their hair the way they wanted, which was long (and usually dyed). Now suddenly they wanted it short (and undyed). But part of their right to bodily autonomy meant short hair as well as long.

“Okay,” I replied, hoping my reluctance didn’t show. If it did, Jeremy didn’t seem to notice.

I put on the #7 clipper first and soon the lawn was covered in clumps of hair. The cut looked good on them. Long enough to be feminine while short enough to be masculine.

“It looks good,” Jeremy agreed, looking at my camera phone (seriously, who needs a mirror anymore). “I’d like it shorter though.”

Shorter? Sigh. I pulled out the #5 clipper and began cutting again. Their hair became decidedly shorter. Soon I was done. The ears weren’t perfect but, if they wanted professional, they’d have taken my parents’ offer of a real hair stylist instead of me.

“Do you think he’s are feeling more like a boy again?” my Mom asked hopefully as soon as Jeremy hopped into the shower.

I thought back to the evening before. We’d been watching an anime Jeremy wanted me to see (Gurren Lagann if anyone out there’s interested) and they were excited about an upcoming character.

“Look,” they’d said, pointing at a bluish character. “They’re both a boy and a girl. They’re non-binary, just like me!”

leeron_littner

“No,” I replied honestly but as gently as I could. “I think they just wanted short hair.”

I wandered into the family room a short time later, where Jeremy was sitting with their cousins… all playing on separate devices.

“Mom, this hair cut makes me feel more feminine,” Jeremy said happily.

And why shouldn’t it. Hair is just that. It’s not gender. It’s not even a secondary sex characteristic. It’s simply a head covering (and in my case a ‘blowing across my face’ covering).

The next night Jeremy informed me, once again, that they don’t think gender exists… that it’s just something society made up.

“Are you sure you’re pangender?” I asked. “Do you think you might be agender instead?”

Jeremy thought for a moment. “I think you’re right,” they replied.

colin-and-lara

Jeremy and their cat Lara. They’re not male or female… just perfectly themself.

Advertisements

Anger and confusion…

Jeremy’s been careening between both these days. Twice today he’s gotten furious over something inconsequential. Once because I was standing about a foot away from him texting while I waited for him to finish his game and get off the computer. He closed his fists and hammered the keyboard three times before getting up and punching the dining room wall hard enough to knock the kitchen clock off. The clock’s a mirror, it fell on the tile floor and shattered. The second time was when we were trying to figure out what office our management is building near the main front door. Jeremy figured they were going to move the management office downstairs and stop allowing people to pay rent upstairs then he freaked out when I disagreed. Management office currently takes up half a floor while this new office will fit maybe a desk and a couple of chairs when they’re done. Neither of us know what’s really going in there but that didn’t stop him from assuming I wasn’t listening simply because I disagreed.

Then there’s the confusion. He mentioned a few weeks ago that he would wear different clothes if he felt safer but had no idea what they’d be. He still has no idea, he hasn’t been able to point out a single article of clothing in any store we’ve been in or tell me if he’s wanting tops or bottoms… or clothes for summer or fall.

He had his hair cut today and it ended up shorter than I expected. The hairdresser was friendly but picky, she just couldn’t get the sides even enough. Even after she’d put purple mousse in his hair, brought out the mirror to show him the back, and got his approval, she still picked up the scissors and trimmed just a bit more here and there… until she finally cut off at least five centimeters. She originally said no more than half a centimeter.

Jeremy couldn’t tell me if he liked the cut or not. It was okay but he agreed he’d have said the same if she shaved him bald. When I pointed out he needed hair for braids, he wasn’t sure if he wanted braids… but wasn’t sure if he didn’t either. In short he had no idea. This despite the fact he said yesterday that wanted to have his hair up when Amy comes for her visit, saying his only worry was getting beaten up while waiting for the bus.

Then we went to the dentist and I started filling out his form. The first question involved dental pain or discomfort. Jeremy could not tell me if he’d ever noticed his teeth hurting. How the hell do you not know if your own teeth hurt?

I mentioned my concerns to his counselor and she had no idea. Her only thought was maybe his lack of awareness had something to do with autism, but freely admitted she suggested that because she doesn’t know anything about autism.

I find myself struggling. Pushing him for answers and suggesting ideas then asking if they’re okay ends up feeling too close to forcing him to do something (especially since I usually don’t get an enthusiastic response, just a mild okay). But if I don’t do or say anything, he ends up simply sitting all day in his pyjamas, staring at the computer.

There’s been a couple of hopeful signs. He picked out his own water bottle a few days ago without me asking if he wanted one. I pointed out the display of sparkly bottles because I wanted one for myself. Once I picked mine out, he asked if there was a purple one then grabbed it for himself. And last night he asked me to feel his nails. He’d dug out the nail buffer and polished all his nails while watching videos. And he wanted to write that letter to Just Kidding News. It didn’t receive any reply but he wrote it at least.

Jeremy just called me into the kitchen to see the clock. He pieced it all back together then glued it into place, fitting back the clock mechanism and hanging it back on the wall. He promises this isn’t my birthday present, that he’ll do something even better.

Which is great but all I really want for my birthday is for Jeremy to know his own mind.