Hidden in plain sight…

On Christmas morning Jeremy eagerly opened a big bag from under the tree. The present slid out and zir face shone with joy when zie saw the picture on the box and the gift behind the cellophane panel.

“You got me a girl’s car!” zie cheerfully exclaimed.

When Emma and Mark showed up a few hours later, zie showed them zir new purple car then said casually, “I like it even though Mom got me a girl car.” The difference between zir first spontaneous words and zir calculated thoughts later break my heart.

A few days ago we were walking through our soon to be closed Target. Jeremy looked down one aisle then pointed and said, “Look at that picture!”

liked picture

 

“Do you want it?” I asked a lot more casually than I felt. What I really felt like saying was, “You pointed out something you like, in public, that’s aimed for girls. I have no money. Let’s get it anyways!”

Jeremy immediately shook zir head. “No. It wouldn’t suit the theme of my bedroom.”

I wasn’t aware zir room had any sort of theme but dropped the subject. Jeremy picked out a different picture at Dollarama. Tell me this isn’t the sweetest thing ever for a seventeen year old to pick out (ignore the brown zig zags)…

chosen picture

Seriously that’s an aww moment right there.

Then came Sunday. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on the blog yet but I was one of four speakers giving a talk on gender diversity at our UU congregation (and the only cis-gender speaker at that). I was nervous almost to the point of hyperventilating, meanwhile Emma dug through boxes and bags of clothes to get dressed, and Jeremy wandered around in pjs. Our ride was picking us up in less than ten minutes and not only had I not practiced my speech, I hadn’t even managed to print it yet. The printer suddenly couldn’t find my phone and claimed I couldn’t print from my netbook because some other computer was waiting to print. I pictured going up in front of everyone then having to wake up my computer and log in before getting to my speech.

“I know how to get your phone to print,” Jeremy said as zie gestured for my phone. We had to be downstairs in less than a minute and zie was still in zir pjs. But if it worked… I handed over the phone. It worked.

“Thank you,” I said gratefully, “that’s going to be a huge help. Now go get dressed. Why not put on your gummy bear earrings while you’re at it.” Zie’d have time considering Emma was in the washroom.

Jeremy’s okay floated behind zir as zie hurried to zir room.

We were on the way to church when I realized Jeremy was still wearing zir plain purple studs.

“I forgot,” zie said casually.

Zie didn’t look at me but I looked at zir. Plain black coat, the greyest purple t-shirt zie owns, black track pants, loose hair, and black runners. A quick sniff confirmed zie’d skipped perfume as well. We were meeting my Mom at church then going to my parents’ house for a family dinner and celebration of my Dad’s 71st birthday. They all love zir but refuse to use the right pronouns. To them Jeremy is their grandson, their nephew, their big male cousin. And Jeremy reciprocates by hiding zirself.

We were seated before the service when Jeremy tried to hand me zir spare cellphone.

“I’ve got it set to record sound,” zie hissed in a stage whisper. “That way you can use it for… you know…” Zir eyes flicked toward my Mom, who doesn’t know about this blog.

“Hon, that’s very nice of you to offer but I’m going to be using your real name in the speech. I’ll post the video on Facebook and just share the text of the speech on the blog.”

Zie nodded reluctantly and put away the phone. The offer was touching though.

The speech was nerve wracking, although everyone assured me afterward that I sounded just fine and not even a bit nervous.

One of the other speakers wandered over to compliment me on my speech. “Do you have another child?” she asked curiously. Her gaze wandered over Emma and Jeremy.

“No, just the two,” I replied. “I was speaking about Jeremy.” She looked surprised. Jeremy sat quietly in zir seat, fiddling around with zir phone. It felt like zie was hidden in plain sight.

That night Jeremy looked around zir bedroom then mused aloud, “You know… I actually don’t think I have a theme for my room. I guess anything could fit.” Talk about a cheering moment.

Today Jeremy put on zir dangly gummy bear earrings and sprayed zirself liberally with perfume before heading out to counseling… in my coat and zir bright rainbow scarf from Lenny. This evening zie headed out to Dollarama with Emma and borrowed a bright white, blue, and purple coat from her while complaining about how boring and bland zir coat is. The coat was a bit too small. I looked at zir disappointed expression and tried to zip the jacket a bit harder. The kid couldn’t bend if zie tried but the jacket was closed and Jeremy was thrilled. I really do need to get zir a brightly coloured coat.

I took a closer look at the Dollarama picture and realized it would be no big deal to take the background off and put on a new one… and scrapbooking stores sell lovely glittery purple sheets. I assured Jeremy this would in no way change the actual words on the picture (my heart melts) and zie agrees that would look fabulous.

(I’ll post the text of the speech tomorrow once I’ve changed the names).

Advertisements

Falling through the rabbit hole of bad journalism

Lenny shared an article on Facebook this afternoon, which I read on my bus ride home from work. When I got home, I decided to check the actual articles as well, which had me fall down a small rabbit hole of bad journalism.

Here’s the article Lenny posted, which critiques the main article.

Reporting around R. Kelly’s Child Shows Depth of Trans Ignorance (I should clarify that this one is the good article)

And that article includes a link to the main article…

R. Kelly’s daughter is now a boy

The author of this article starts off by claiming Jay “is part of the latest trend in the “Transguy” culture, where young people are choosing to claim whatever gender they identify with the most.”

So, all of my trans readers… you’re now as trendy as an owl drinking Earl Grey while wearing a mustache (Lenny’s going to find a way to make an image of that because nothing shows up in Google Images).

Lenny and zir cousin followed through… here it is!!!

owlstacheteatrend

Then the author goes on to say the only source of information they could find was wikipedia because there was no other information available about trans guys online at all. They also refer to Jay as “she” through the whole article then ask, “Seriously, should we refer to Jay as their sister or their brother?  Please give us your opinion.  We want to make sure we’re respectful to Jay’s transition into adulthood.”

Lenny commented that slip-ups with gender happen and, well, yeah. I had one memorable 1am conversation with Emma where I referred to Lenny by three different pronouns in one sentence. Let’s just say 1am and I do not get along. But for a whole freaking article? Maybe I overlooked it but I’m not seeing the respect here.

This article includes a link to the article they got their information from and it’s even more brief.

R. Kelly’s daughter identifies as a “transguy”

The article doesn’t mention he’d like to be called Jay, refers to him as “she” through the whole brief article and includes the following quote.

“Just hitting the pivotal age where people truly find themselves and carve out their identity for adulthood, she is finding her way. She currently doesn’t see this as living the way most females would. Instead, Jaya Kelly dresses a bit different, in fact in a masculine manner.”

That’s it for any sort of information in the article… he dresses in a masculine manner. Alrighty then.

Just pretend I’ve got a witty and eloquent ending for this post. Jeremy didn’t sleep last night and bounced into my room two seconds after my alarm went off (at 4:45am by the way) with a cheery, “Good morning Mom! I heard your alarm clock. Do you want me to turn on your light for you?”

My reply was “Gahh… no…” and I’m still not very awake. Although I am more awake than Jeremy. Which reminds me, I need to go poke him again…

A letter for Jeremy…

My friend Lenny wrote an open letter for Jeremy and I have zir permission to share it here:

Hi Jeremy,

I wanted to write you a letter about my experiences of being non binary gendered, queer, and coming out, but I’m finding it tough. I might have to make it more than one letter, and you or your Ma can email me.

The reality is that I was more torn up about who I am before I came out. Once I’d come out, I really felt relieved. I’ll just start writing and see where I get to.

As a kid, I was the messy outdoor sort. Trees and animals were fascinating. I nearly ended up at agricultural college. Bugs, birdwatching, rock pooling, going outside. Swimming, or my favourite thing, climbing trees. Loved my Fisher Price garage. Both parents and I have lamented the lack of a train set in their lives, yet we still don’t have one.

I have a probably apocryphal memory of having been in a ‘special group for girls only’ talk from the school nurse from middle school where I cried and they thought I was sad because I hadn’t had a period yet when actually I was crying because I didn’t want to have one ever.

I started writing letters to a girl a year or two older than me who I really liked, respected, and thought I could trust yet I never sent them. It was a kind of one sided romance. Not stalker-y but shy.

Cross country running. Camping. I spent most of my time around guys, watching them roleplay and beat each other at MTG card games. Then came puberty.

Puberty was no laughing matter. The cramping pain, unpredictability and the frequency of floods and leaks . I think that was actually still not as bad as the boobs part, they hurt, always felt sore, and were prone to being targeted by boys elbows. They probably wouldn’t have appreciated it if the same movements were applied to their scrotum.

I didn’t really need an AA bra, but if there was any slight dulling from sensation, it was worth the stress we experienced trying to find one.

The changing rooms at school were an issue, small and open plan, no corners to hide in. I just felt so embarrassed. Who cared if I didn’t have a shower? Not I. I did not want to be naked around these people who I barely knew. I remember thinking I might have felt better next door with the boys. I don’t think they showered either.

There was just always something wrong. Like I was just looking at desire from a really weird angle. Like maybe my body doesn’t do that or fit or work properly.

I came out at college thanks to a poor choice of location and a lot of Jack Daniels. Went back in the closet within a very short space of time though. I really hope in retrospect that I didn’t hurt her badly, make her feel bad about herself, last time I heard of her she was involved in the students union and doing well. I really do not recommend doing that to someone.

I wore men’s clothing exclusively for a time and felt better in it. It was expected of me, almost. I’ve restarted that in the last couple of years, and feel an awful lot more comfortable.

I came out as bi to my family at 22. It was eventful, but I chose a moment, because I didn’t want my first girlfriend to be the one who’d ‘turned’ me. I decided I could make the statement that I was bi without any practical tests. I didn’t want to ‘try’ because I didn’t want to hurt anyone else. I didn’t need to.

I was truly prepared for it to be the worst possible moment of my life, but it wasn’t.

Mum got me to call up my dad whilst he was asleep on another continent to tell him, and she wanted me to promise not to tell my sister. It made things significantly uncomfortable and painful in places, it felt a bit ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ (though I now recognise that it was probably imposed by myself rather than my family) . Yes I had to face up to who I am. Sometimes people want to know the person they thought you were.

It’s taken me years to realise that my parents love me regardless of my sexuality and gender (even though they don’t think they are what god wants) and it took a really big extreme period of mental illness to show me that they have my back.

It took me til 2010 to come out as transgender. I’d been staying with my then boyfriend and had come across the term neutrois. I looked it up and found that the term genderqueer was for people who felt like I do about myself. I cried.

I told him about it and he said he couldn’t love me if I was a boy, he cried and told me that if I wanted to be one of his loved ones, I had to be a girl. I’m not a girl (but I’m not a boy either) and soon enough after that he pushed me away.

I started to be more of who I am, not trying to fit into someone else’s ideal-me.

I recognise and accept that neither my sexuality nor my gender are binary – in the case of sexuality, there are people of all genders, not just male or female identified that I’m attracted to. I don’t much like the word pansexual. It makes me think of horned goat god Pan who liked to induce panic (named after him) in people, and it’s not about shocking people, it’s about being myself, loving people for who they are. I tend to use queer instead.

In 2011 I changed my title to Mx and my name to Lenny Grey. My family were not best pleased. When I told Pops though, he said “you always have been a tomboy” and another dear friend said “you always did hate your boobs”.

This is a really basic account of how things have been for me regarding gender and sexuality. There are doubtless many happy and sad stories still untold. I want to say that I am still here, I am supported by people who care about me, and that coming out takes however long it takes.

Your mum will still be there for you whatever label fits you best. Be who you are, however long it takes to work that out.

Nobody else can be you.

Keep being fabulous.

Lenny