I am angry…

This post is a long time coming, it’s not something I’ve suddenly realized in the last day or two. But three incidents happened this week and they pushed me over the edge. So here I am.

I’d been enjoying some Instagram on my cell phone before I got up one sunny morning. Pictures from friends, cute shots of animals, and then a picture Alok Vaid-Menon came onto my screen. I started reading… started discovering what their day’s like. Being verbally harassed. Being spat on once or twice a day. The realization that no one would come to their aid if they were attacked. People taking pictures of them to post online and mock and they’ve done nothing except being themself. They’re not hurting anyone. I cannot understand why someone would go out of their way to harm someone who is doing nothing wrong. What is the reasoning behind this? Sigh, I’m not sure I even want to know.

The second incident happened on Facebook. A friend of mine shared an article about a study that had been done regarding pronouns and I discovered that three people out of five will deliberately use the wrong pronouns for a trans person. Excuse me but really? You’ll apologize and make sure you use your friend’s cat’s correct pronouns but you can’t offer the same kindness to a fellow human? For fuck’s sake, the cat doesn’t even care. But the human certainly does. What is wrong with people that they can’t extend common courtesy to another person just because they’re perceived as different? There is nothing wrong with being different.

Then a page named Kialo showed up in my newsfeed with a discussion on whether trans women should have the same rights as cis-women by entering women’s only spaces. I know better but I still clicked on the link, commenting on the most egregious posts. It’s still going on (and on) with the usual arguments. Genitals trump all and trans women must be men. Trans women grew up with male privilege and therefore aren’t eligible for women’s spaces. Some cis-women have been assaulted before and trans women might trigger them – ignoring the fact that trans women get assaulted more than cis woman. And, of course, one lone idiot bleating “I’m not a cis woman. I’m just a woman”. Because Latin prefixes are so scary. I gave facts and rebuttals but I’m sure most of them went unread. Hopefully someone who’s wavering took a look and gained some knowledge. Who knows.

And I am so tired. I’m tired of the same damn arguments. The same lame “I identify as an apache attack helicopter” as if two hundred other assholes haven’t already used the same line. I’m tired of my friends being narrowed down to nothing more than their genitalia… being stripped of their humanity. I’m tired of them being nothing more to a whole swathe of people than a topic of discussion on a Friday night. I don’t want to have another discussion like that again. But I will. You know why? Because my friends are the ones being attacked and if I’m tired, they’re beyond tired of arguing their very existence. Because friends stay there for the hard times, they buckle down and say “I’ll help”. I can’t do anything physically or financially but I can be supportive and I can throw fact after fact at the bigots in hopes that one will stick.

Trans people are your family, your friends, your neighbours, your store clerks. They’re in the line up behind you. They buy their gas at the same station as you. You might not think you know someone trans but in reality you do. What are you going to do about this? Would you give a tissue to Alok and sympathize that they’d been spat on? Would you use the right pronoun if asked? Would you stand up via internet or in person for a trans person’s rights? It’s really scary standing up in person but it’s something you can do. Or are you going to be on the wrong side and ignore someone’s basic humanity. It’s up to you.

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Remembering Leelah Alcorn…

It was New Year’s Eve 2014 when I first heard about Leelah and how she’d chosen to walk in front of a truck instead of continuing to be ignored and misgendered at home. Colin was still non-binary, feeling like both male and female and the thought that he might end his life was chilling, even though he was being supported at home. I felt overwhelmed and the only way I could think of calming down was to write it out, and so I did.

I’m not going to write a whole new post. I’ll just leave the link to post right here. And remember, Leelah is just one of many who have taken their own lives due to lack of support. If you have a trans person in your life please, please support them and let them know they matter. It makes a difference.

The pause…

I don’t know why I’m surprised each time it happens, but I am. I’ll be in a conversation with a stranger, like a cashier, and then it comes. The pause.

“… and is your… son vegan too?” the cashier asks as she scans my vegan margarine and packages of Gardein vegan “meat”, giving Colin a not so subtle second glance.

Colin smiling on his balconyThe pause is *just* long enough to be noticeable and happens often enough that I know it’s happening. And I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Colin’s been through puberty and now wears all his clothes from the mens section of clothing stores. He’s also horrible at shaving and usually has a tad more than a 5 o’clock shadow. I know he has long hair but so many men do these days, it shouldn’t warrant confusion. And, yet, people (multiple people) still pause and give him a second glance before choosing his pronoun. Some even start out referring to him as female, only to revert to male pronouns with no little amount of embarrassment.

These days everyone we know has settled back to Colin and him, as if he never was Emma and her. As if it’s not even been half a year since he detransitioned for fertility reasons. Everyone except for his doctor’s office, who he never informed otherwise. Maybe he just forgot? Maybe he gets some relief from hearing someone calling him by his real name? I don’t know. I haven’t asked.

Meanwhile, we’ll still continue to go out for walks and shopping and Colin will continue to get “the pause”.

Valentine’s Day

My morning started with a 7am call from my daughter Kait. She chatted as the sunlight streamed across my bed and three of our cats curled up around my legs. We don’t chat for a short time, we’re two hour long gabbers so we ended up chatting while I dressed, fed the oldest cats their wet food, and got myself breakfast.

Then it came time to wake up Colin. I’m a romantic at heart and woke him up by opening the bedroom door and yelling, “Stank love, sweat poo!” This, of course, confused the heck out of him until I explained they were Valentine’s Day wishes written by an AI. Then he thought that was amazing.

We needed to do a bit of tidying up as Colin’s claimed our storage closet as his own and relocated everything from the closet to the living room. I hadn’t worried about clutter in the closet, that’s what the door’s for. I’m way more concerned about the clutter when it’s on my living room floor and dining room table. Then I washed the dishes while Colin cleaned his beaded mini lamp. I’m sure everyone who tiptoes around the closet stuff will be in awe over his lamp shade. If they don’t trip first and land in the hospital.

It was creeping close to dinner when I showed Colin an article about students who couldn’t say no to someone wanting to take them to the Valentine’s Day dance. Colin was furious. First at feminists, who he was positive were behind this. I have no idea why. Then low-key mad at the school in the article and raging mad about his old school. He decided that what the school in the article needed to do was ask the students to write down their likes and dislikes, hobbies, and favourite things, then the staff could pair the similar students with each other. That way they’d at least have something to talk about. I agreed with his idea although chances are the girls would end up paired with the girls and the boys with the boys at that age. I’m not sure how well that would go in Utah.

“I liked the school dances at first,” Colin admitted, as he settled in to discussing his old school. “Then I slowly started to hate them. The only thing good about them were the snacks and I couldn’t always buy them.”

“That’s because you were going to at least one dance a month,” I reminded him.

From the look on his face, that was a surprise. Then again he wasn’t the one marking them down on the calendar.

“I would just stand by the wall because no one wanted to dance with me,” he informed me.

I wasn’t surprised. I knew the teacher was pushing his classmates away from him. When he was with his friends at lunch time, the teacher would come up and ask the kids if they really wanted to be with him. Were they sure? They could always walk away.

Every. Single. Time.

I would have complained but I’d already seen how far I’d gotten with Colin’s pronouns. They followed the rules when writing paperwork, once someone from the board told them they had to, but used he/him pronouns when they talked to him. And, when I brought that up in a meeting I got told they most certainly used zie and zir during the school day. Considering how often they misgendered him in the meetings, it was pretty obvious they didn’t. There was definitely no way they’d admit to trying to manipulate one student against another.

Then he told me that the students were warned not to be like Colin when they acted up. He was their bad example. “I know you don’t want to work on your spelling right now but you have to. You don’t want to be like Colin, do you?” I would have exploded with rage if I’d known that before he graduated. As it is, I can understand why he didn’t want to follow up with their bridging program. He might have been their “bad example” but he’s been a hardworking and well liked student in his current programs.

Colin joined me in the kitchen while I made brownies and started on the spaghetti sauce and I listened while he chattered about computer parts and the different tests he does on the computers. I have very little idea what he’s doing. All I know is one test looks like a fuzzy doughnut and another looks like an old time office. But he’s interested and that’s what matters.

And now dinner’s done, the brownies enjoyed, and it’s time to relax.

For those who are interested, Blackie is still doing well. She’s not eating nearly enough, just half of one of the big cans of Friskies (the ones that are the size of a tin of tuna). But she’s not losing any weight and is active. She loves curling up in my arms while I’m at the computer or lying between my keyboard and monitor. And she loves getting petted.

And, since it’s Valentine’s Day, I’m writing out the brownie recipe we use just for you.

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a square brownie pan. Place 1/2 cup margarine or butter into a glass measuring cup and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Microwave for 35 seconds.

In a medium sized bowl add 6tbsps aquafaba (otherwise known as the water in a tin of canned beans) or 2 eggs. Then add one cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cups flour, a dash of salt, and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. My kids hate nuts in baked goods so I add 1/2 a cup chocolate chips instead. Don’t mix yet. Now stir the melted butter and cocoa mixture and pour it over the rest of the ingredients. Now you can stir until it’s all mixed evenly. I’m pretty sure these brownies cause the blood sugar to rise in everyone in the near vicinity, they’re so sweet, but they’re worth it. Now try not to lick the mixing spoon. Try harder. I know the batter is really good but you can do it. It’s okay, that’s what the tap’s for, just rinse it off.

Pour the batter into the pan, leaving a bit of batter in the bowl for you, then set the timer for 30 minutes. Let cool (I toss mine onto the balcony in the winter but they can go into a self defrosting freezer for a bit too). And enjoy 🙂

Blackie on my desk

Blackie-Boo on my desk. Ignore the clutter, I’ve already cleaned up most of it LOL

It’s all you…

Someone close to us recently said that I’m forcing Colin to be trans. That it’s all my idea and he’s just going along with it. First, I don’t think the person realised how much that hurt Emma. Second, how does that even work?

Does he think I went up to Emma one day and said, “You’re a girl” and Emma simply went along with it? This kid might as well have her picture beside stubborn in the dictionary. She doesn’t roll over and accept anything. She’s also the sort of person who, if you say the sky is blue, will not only check but might just argue that how do we really know it’s blue. It could be purple and we’re simply mislabelling it. She doesn’t simply take anything as fact.

How the conversation is expected to go by transphobes:

Me: You’re really a girl
Emma: Well you’re my Mom, you know best
*pulls on dress*

How it would go in reality:

Me: You’re really a girl
Emma: Have you lost your *bleeping* mind?
*goes back to video game*

Maybe he was thinking of something more subtle? Did he think I put subliminal message tapes under her pillow at night? A crooning whisper of “you’re a girl… you’re a girl…” Or maybe hypnosis. Although, quite frankly, if hypnosis worked I’d be running a mantra of “clean your room… put away your running shoes… dishes go in the sink…”. Gender would be at the bottom of the list.

Or possibly mind controlling drugs.

*checks cupboard*
*finds no name acetaminophen*

I mean theoretically it’s mind controlling. It controls your mind into thinking you don’t hurt. But somehow I doubt it could control someone into changing genders. Let alone hold her down and force her to wear women’s shirts.

In reality the truth is simple. Emma questioned her gender for a few years and finally realised she’s a trans female. I simply came along for the ride and to support her. Hopefully this person will realise it soon and support her too.

New York blues…

The older Jeremy gets, the more his opinions on just about everything differ from mine. So you can imagine my trepidation when he said he wanted to talk about the New York law regarding misgendering people intentionally and as the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.

I don’t agree with it,” he started out firmly and then he went on with his usual flights of fancy.

“What if the person doing the misgendering is working three jobs to feed their family? They won’t be able to afford a twenty-five thousand dollar fine*. Especially if they’re working as a waiter or something. What if that means their children are going to starve?”

How on earth was I supposed to answer that? Do I offer Monopoly money to feed the imaginary starving children? Luckily he didn’t expect an answer. He certainly didn’t give me enough time for one.

“And what about made up pronouns?”

Made up pronouns? You mean like your old pronouns zie and zir?” I asked with a hint of anger in my voice.

“Yes,” he replied flatly. “And I would have felt that way back then too.”

“Back when you felt-”

“I didn’t just feel,” he snapped. “I was that gender.”

I nodded and he continued. “There are so many pronouns. How can people be expected to remember them all? Like, zie and zir are good pronouns, they’re used in Canada and England, but there’s so many more. And what if someone’s pronouns change regularly? Are they supposed to know them from day to day.”

As he calmed down, he circled toward his real reason. “A fine isn’t going to solve anything. Someone misgenders someone else then they learn more and stop doing it. But a fine is just going to make them angry and they won’t change.”

All I got was my mouth open before he plowed on.

“Just think Mom,” he continued. “That’s a big fine. When it goes to court they’re going to know each other’s addresses, that’ll be on the court documents. Someone’s going to get killed over this. There’s lots of guns in the States. Someone’s going to say screw it and grab their gun, go to the address, and then the person’s dead.”

“Hon, we can’t make laws based on what people might do later. You could say this about any fine-“

“No! Because it’s not the same!” he interrupted. “Those people don’t even think trans people are human. They’re not going to care. And if they have a gun…”

With that, he wound down into silence.

What on earth could I say to that? I mean I must have said something because he stopped talking about it but really… three trans people have been murdered already in the States and it’s only the 12th of January. Trans people have a 1 in 12 chance of getting murdered. And, while I still think the law is a good idea, he is right too. I hope nobody’s looking for an answer, because quite frankly I don’t have one, but he did make me think.

*I know he got the amount of the fine wrong

The grass is always greener…

When Jeremy first came out as non-binary, they trialed using they/them pronouns for just under a week before switching to zie/zir pronouns. I was pleased in one way because they’d chosen the same pronouns as my then best friend (now ex-boyfriend). The rest of me was disappointed because no one had ever heard of those pronouns before. If they weren’t mishearing zie for he and zir for her, I was getting “what did you just say?” and “how do you use that?” at the best and complete ignoring the pronouns at the worst. It tended to be me that got the comments simply because Jeremy doesn’t usually refer to themself in third person although they got an earful and a half at school.

Now, after two years of explaining to pretty much everyone what zie and zir are, how to use them, and why Jeremy’s using them in the first place (all of this with their permission), they’ve switched back to they and them. My first thought was ‘cool… easier pronouns’ and my second was ‘damn, I’ll need to reexplain to all my friends… but at least it’ll be easier’. Famous last words and all of that.

My Mom and sister’s first reactions were they is plural, which is true but not completely. The English language has plenty of wiggle room and people from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Austen have used singular they. It was fairly common in the 16th century too (according to the Oxford dictionary). And it’s not like the English language is static. You used to be only used as a plural pronoun, with thou as singular. I’m sure people can handle the transition to using singular they too.

Then I needed to talk to a mental health care professional. You know, someone who should have regular involvement with the LGBTQ community considering the depression statistics.

“My offspring’s name is Jeremy. They’re 19 years old,” I explained with Jeremy standing beside me.

The woman proceeded to glance, bewildered, around the room for an extra offspring. “They?” she asked hesitantly.

Because this isn’t 2016 and no one’s heard of singular they before. Although, considering she wasn’t the first or last person confused over this, maybe most people haven’t.

I think the weirdest and funniest thing is there seems to be a subset of people who think I’m forcing Jeremy to pretend to be trans for some unknown reason. I don’t get any money for this blog (or for spouting my mouth on Facebook for that matter) and Jeremy’s not meek and laid back; they are tenacious with strongly held views. To be fair, their mildest view, in one way, is regarding gender as they don’t particularly care what pronouns they’re called… as long as it’s not incessantly “he/him”. But that’s because Jeremy doesn’t hold firmly to any gender and think all genders should be abolished. And that’s *cough* a strongly held view on their part. I’ve explained to them multiple times that many other people like having a gender and identify strongly with their gender (myself included). It whooshes right over their head. According to them, gender is the root of societal evil and that’s that. Alrighty then.

If Jeremy was male, there would be no way anyone could miss it because they’d be telling everyone within ear shot that I’d lost my mind and couldn’t handle them being he. It would be their only topic and one everyone under the sun would know about. But they aren’t and they don’t. If the people who think I’m forcing them would try using female pronouns even once, and saw their smile, they’d know this for themselves.

I have one quirk regarding the pronoun and that’s treating singular they the same, grammatically, as plural they. “They’re going to the store” sounds so much better than “they’s going to the store” and it makes me sound so much less like I stumbled into a sitcom about the deep south (which would even more farther south than Oshawa or even Sarnia). If Jeremy felt strongly about grammar, I’d swallow my mild discomfort and singular they every contraction, but they don’t.

So, after two years of thinking they/them would be so much easier to explain, I’ve discovered it’s not. The good part is I’ve at least got Jane Austen on my side.