Hiding in the closet…

I was chatting with friends on Facebook one evening last week when Colin walked into my room. He perched on the bed beside me and said, “If I transition, I’m think I’m going to name myself Alma instead of Emma. You know, for one of the anime characters.”

I absolutely loath the name Alma but his body, his choice. Hopefully if he ever decides to transition he’ll like another name. Or maybe it’ll grow on me. Who knows.

Then we were at the Transgender Day of Remembrance Service. As we were leaving, a woman cheerfully said, “Good evening ladies” to both of us. Colin shaved his face smooth as soon as we got home.

Transition is definitely something he thinks about although he rarely speaks of it. It came up again yesterday when we were at his doctor’s appointment, sandwiched between getting an exam to make sure he can handle anaesthesia for his wisdom teeth removal and getting his flu shot. The doctor referred to him as Emma and Colin replied that he was no longer going by Emma. The doctor was shocked and asked why. Colin sadly replied that he was too old to transition. Both of us assured him he was definitely not too old but I don’t think he believed us.

I wish both my kids happiness, peace, and the chance to be themselves. No metaphorical closets in this family. I just never expected my kid to leave the closet then run back inside, only peeking out occasionally. A friend’s kid, who’s maybe a year older than Colin, came out around the same time as Colin. She’s now fully transitioned and living as a woman. Meanwhile Colin hides in his room for hours on end, hiding from the world.

I wish he would be happy. I wish he’d start living his life no matter what gender he chooses. I wish he would just be himself.

Colin and Oreo1

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Crumbling walls…

I was in my teens when I started having intrusive thoughts, although I didn’t have a name for it at the time. I’d get sudden urges to jump over the railing in our shopping centre, fall in front of moving vehicles, and climb the railing of the bridge over our local huge highway. I didn’t want to die so those weren’t my thoughts. It was that simple.

I turned 13 years old in 1983, right at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Back then the only choices for sexuality, as far as I knew, were gay, straight (aka normal), or confused/just make up your mind. I knew I was interested in boys, but had no concept of aesthetic attraction at the time. Everyone else must just be thinking he’s cute, right? People didn’t really want to have sex with a total stranger. I didn’t have a close friend to talk to about sex and relationships. I barely had any friends at all.

me in Yorkshire with County Town Singers

Me (in 80’s glasses) with the choir in Yorkshire England.

Things changed when I was 18 years old and the youngest member of an adult choir. We were having a concert and the director decided that one song needed a violin accompanist. The violinist was about my age and cute, in a vaguely anime sort of way. I was blown away by his talent and kept watching him. One of my fellow choir members noticed.

“She’s very good, isn’t she.”

She?

I looked more intently and realized that, yes, she was female… just very androgynous. And the feelings of interest hadn’t faded with this realization.

I didn’t want this. I deeply didn’t want this… in the same way I didn’t want random thoughts of suicide. This was the 80’s, when students and teachers alike talked about going to the gay community in Toronto to pelt passerby’s with stones and cans. It was considered a fun weekend activity. And I was bullied to an incredible extent. My assessment counsellor didn’t blink when I detailed my plans for suicide. She looked so horrified by my summation of bullying that I cut it short. I didn’t want more bullying. I couldn’t handle more bullying, so I pushed that thought deep and continued pushing.

On the rare occasion I had a thought like that girl is cute, I’d think of images of men I’d thought were cute to assure myself that I was indeed straight. I was completely, 100% straight. I had to be. Just like there was no way I could be suicidal. Those thoughts were all locked away as tight and hidden as I could possibly make them.

I grew up and had children and my collection of friends expanded. And the fleeting thoughts changed. Before it was just aesthetic attraction. Now, with close friends it was “I want to kiss her”. That’s the downside of demi-romantic. I have to be friends to have any interest in someone and I rarely have single and interested friends. Rarely meaning it’s happened exactly once. Again, I chalked romantic attraction to the same unknown issue that caused me to think of falling in front of cars. And, again, I pushed it as far away as possible. I was still 100% straight. Those thoughts weren’t mine.

It wasn’t until last summer that I looked up asexual and realized the description explained most of my feelings. And it wasn’t until I had working antidepressants that I realized the intrusive thoughts and the attractions were not from the same source. Depression does not cause romantic attraction. The walls started crumbling. I posted here about being asexual and hinted more and more blatantly on Facebook. And then a friend posted this in response to an article about an amusement park employee telling a gay couple they weren’t allowed to hug…

ShelleyAnn

She wasn’t an online friend. She’d been a coworker for two years and a friend for just as long. We did our Christmas shopping together and went out for lunch and a run to Michael’s Arts and Crafts last month. And she blocked me after I told her I wasn’t straight. The last of the walls crumbled with anger as I posted this on my Facebook wall…

This image is a post a former friend of mine made on a Toronto Star article about two men hugging (nothing more) in a line up at Canada’s Wonderland on Gay Day.

I messaged her privately, explaining I’m not straight (and as a demi-romantic asexual, I’m not), and asked if she still wanted to be friends. She assured me she did and that she’d posted that in defense of other people. Umm, not likely but I let it slide. We left on a good note (as far as I could tell).

Just now I went to tag her in a post about the new Ghostbuster’s movie and, whoops, she’s not there. I’ve been deleted and blocked.

I’m going to be blunt here. I’ve only been off suicide watch for two and a half weeks at this point and am still deemed too emotionally fragile to even attend full on group counselling. Please do not string me along, pretending to be friends and allowing yourself into my life, only to disappear because I *might* be romantically interested if we’re friends. This person was a real life friend who was going to attend my birthday and went out for lunch and shopping with me last month.

Right now I’m not romantically interested in anyone at all. The closest to anything romantic wise would be Andrea and this would be so not a surprise to her. And if you claim it is I’m blowing a raspberry at you pffft LOL. Even then it’s pretty much just joking around. At this point I’m pretty much ready just to say screw relationships and get another cat (but not for another year or two as Angel would have a coronary).

So, if you’re anti LGBTQ, please hit the unfriend button and shuffle yourself out of my life because, quite frankly, I can’t handle you right now.

As for the rest of you, thanks for staying *hugs*

The rest stayed and were overwhelmingly positive, which was a huge relief. Then I had my 46th birthday party yesterday and all my friends treated me exactly the same as before. Which is how it should be, because I really haven’t changed, but I know that isn’t always the case.

I don’t know what will happen in the future but my walls are down and someday I’ll start dating again.

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).