My letter to Jeremy…

Dear Jeremy,

You came out to me as straight again last night, something that made me flinch because it usually involves a lot of yelling on your part. You got mad at me for not immediately believing you and then I struggled to try and explain why. I’m not good with words, at least not verbally. I need the space to think, type, and backspace as needed; time to collect my thoughts. And this is complicated.

When your sister was eleven or twelve years old, she told me she was straight and I could use male pronouns when I discussed relationships with her. My response was to say “okay” and switch to using male pronouns. If you’d done something similar, I’d have done the same. But you didn’t.

You came out as bisexual last summer, which is fine. Even after that, if you said you’d done some thinking and really weren’t attracted to males, I would have said “okay” and that would be it. But you didn’t. You informed me several times that you didn’t know if you were attracted to guys at all because you refused to think about it. Then you told me you were straight. And then you joked that you would never leave the closet because you “took away the door and welded it shut and stuck a big screen TV in front of it. There’s no way out.”

And you rate the various doctors in Doctor Who by cuteness. No, it wasn’t just that one time. It happens so naturally for you, I don’t think you even notice unless I say something. And I just don’t.

To me your sexuality is kind of like Schrödinger’s cat. It’s there but I can’t see it and don’t know what it is. Hints can be given but until the box is opened… and that’s where the similarities fall apart. Because there is no box to open (there’s no poison either but that would be an entirely different blog). You could be telling the truth now or lying and I won’t know.

I’m scared you think it will be okay to lie and say you’re straight because you like girls too. That if you fake hard enough, everything will be fine. Life doesn’t work like that. Just ask Dan from Single Dad Laughing, he wrote a whole blog post about his experience. Jeremy, when you came out, you said you were more interested in women than men and so is Dan. Like you, he also is fairly effeminate. His two marriages failed with both wives convinced he was gay, even though he was deeply in the closet. He ended up suicidal and didn’t come out until his early thirties. He’d known he wasn’t straight since he was eleven.

I posted a question on a forum I frequent, asking about a young friend of mine. I did not say it was you. One poster replied with a story of how her daughter got pregnant as a teenager. The father was a young man who’d come out as gay then bisexual and then said he was straight. He ended up killing himself. I got off the computer and bawled.

I tried to explain last night, tried to say you only have one life to live and you cut me off. You told me that I don’t listen to you and I don’t discuss what’s important. That I don’t support you at school. I think Kelly from Living a Bold Life said it the best:

Make it clear that you are fighting for your child to be themselves as far as preferences go, but not in the behavior category. That your expectation is the same for your child as every other kid as far as behavior is concerned.

Hon, I will talk to your teachers about gender and pronouns. I will give them reams of information if they request, and I have told them this. I will fight for you to get relevant sex information during sex ed class. I will stand up for you regarding boycotting the Olympics in Russia. I will not back you for bringing electronics into the library and refusing to put them away. To be fair, I know you realize your excuses were really flimsy. You didn’t feel like walking downstairs to your locker? You had to have your devise out so you could research online because it was too much effort to switch between tabs in your browser? I wish you’d just said you were feeling uncomfortable at school and wanted to go home instead of causing a scene in the library and getting sent home (again).

I wish you felt more comfortable, more safe in your own skin. I was discussing this with Lenny this morning and zie said, “He’s dealing with bending gender stereotypes, and that links to sexuality – ‘am I really gay if I’m more than a little female?’ that sort of thinking.” Jeremy, I know you will sort things out. Just trust yourself.

You thought I was being ridiculous when I said you only have one life to live, that there are no do-overs. And I know you thought I was being silly when we went shopping yesterday and I offered to have you pretend to help me pick out pyjamas for myself when we went through the ladies department. You rolled your eyes and sarcastically informed me you could just point them out for yourself, which is great. You did use my suggestion in Wal-Mart, which is fine too. I still think you would have rocked that Duck Dynasty nightgown (also your eyes are going to stay that way if you keep rolling them like that).

Jeremy, I guess the short answer is, I want you to love yourself as much as I love you. You’re amazing.

Love, Mom

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