Changes…

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It started drizzling and just didn’t let up. Meanwhile the temperature hovered around the freezing point. I made sure we had several big bottles of water, put spaghetti sauce in the crockpot (thanks Facebook memories for reminding me), and checked our flashlights and candles. Colin, who’s usually planning worst case scenarios for every storm, was scornful.

“Nothing’s going to happen Mom,” he muttered… more than once.

And he was right, kind of. Nothing happened to us at all. Our lights didn’t even flicker. But our block was the only one with power for at least an eight block radius; a tiny dab of light in a sea of black. And, during all that drizzle and wondering what was going to happen, I began to write.

I had thought about writing a blog for a while at that point. I knew Colin was questioning his sexual orientation and gender presentation but everything I could find was about children, there was nothing talking about raising a gender creative teen. That definitely was a niche that needed filling.

I got busy and set up the whole blog then wrote the first post, all without telling Colin. At first he did not want me to write the blog at all then I read him the post and he immediately changed his mind. He thought the blog sounded good but no face shots and no real names. We used artfully posed shots and pseudonyms for years.

And now it’s been seven years exactly. I can’t believe how much has changed since then. We’d only been living in North Oshawa for a year when I started. Now I’m living east of Oshawa and Colin’s north of Toronto… and we have been for almost a year. Colin was in grade 10 and he’s been out of high school with his “certificate of completion” for several years now. I was working at Tim Hortons but then became suicidal and crashed in 2016. I’ve since been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, severe anxiety, autism, ADD, and agoraphobia. I’m on disability. Colin went from being gender non-binary to female for two years. Then he found out he’d lose his fertility on hormones (and we couldn’t afford a sperm bank) so he went back to being male. Well as male as you can be when you only detransitioned for fertility reasons. And I’ve since discovered that I’m asexual and this close to being aromantic by being demiromantic. I’m finding I’m way more interested in women than men but that could simply be because I only have female friends at the moment.

Colin and I croppedWe’re heading into the 8th year of the blog. Instead of being a working single Mom I’m a disabled Granny. My visits with Colin are via Facebook video chats and are as pleasantly mundane as could be. I’ve seen his freshly shoveled deck and watched him scramble eggs. This year I’m hoping to focus more on helping me thrive… or at the very least to stop rating 7 and 8 out of 10 on the depression and anxiety scales. Small attainable goals. I’m sure I’ll succeed.

I won’t be writing again until after Christmas so I’d like to take this time to hope you have the best holiday ever, whether it’s in the past or yet to come, and that 2021 is peaceful, kind, and joyous!

My Invisible Daughter…

Colin on a spring walkThe picture showed up on my newsfeed via the “on this day” app. Colin was smiling for the camera in his usual fashion.

“You don’t show your teeth when you smile!” he exclaimed once when I commented on his shy, almost hesitant smile.

His bright blue hair was lightened by the sun and his clothes were almost blinding. Then I glanced over at today’s Colin, who was sitting on my bed and asked, “Do you miss your old bright clothes?”

“Well, yeah,” he admitted then we both fell silent. I don’t go into Superstore’s men’s department at all, which is where we bought the tops and pants, but I haven’t seen anyone wear anything similar recently. Meanwhile, all of Colin’s current clothes are various shades of grey, as if he wants to fade into the background.

I thought about my bubbly, outgoing teenager who stood up and stood out. Who was proudly out as trans, asking teachers and classmates to use his pronouns. Then I thought of all the people who refused because zie and zir were “too weird” and “too hard to remember”. The teachers who used he and him repeatedly in class, only to lie and say they used the right pronouns all the time. Pro tip, if you’re using the right pronouns “all the time” you won’t slip up 9 times out of 10 at a parent teacher conference.

I thought of all the people, especially older men, who blatantly stared at him, often turning in place to continue watching. Colin claimed he never saw them but they were so very obvious.

walking Lara at Cedar ValleyI remembered how shyly Colin came out as female and how relieved he was when I believed him. How we laughed and joked on that snowy trail, thinking up names for her and coming up with the most outrageous ones we could think of.

We sat on the news for a couple of weeks until Colin felt comfortable sharing the information. Then he got me to share the big news. He was scared of what people would say. So I explained he was now Emma and would be using she/her pronouns. My friends were awesome and immediately switched pronouns and name. My family was very supportive of him, continuing right on using Colin, he, and him. Every foray into feminine clothes brought about extreme anxiety for Colin. What were people going to say? What would they do? Would he get beaten up? Is this what would get him disowned.

Then summer rolled around and brought along Colin’s birthday, complete with a long, nasty post from his Dad that started with, “happy birthday son love you colin”. The whole fiasco ended up with Colin getting disowned by his Dad. Kait’s since been disowned and neither one of them speak to their father any more. No matter how much they know they’re better off not speaking to him, it’s bound to hurt.

Then it came time to try and start on hormones. Our family doctor was not optimistic. He admitted he had no real experience with hormones and said that one of his patients gave up and detransitioned because hormones were taking too long. Then he went on to make several questionable comments, all prefaced with “I’m not prejudiced but” and finally he explained the wait for hormone therapy would take years plus many bus trips into Toronto. Bus trips we couldn’t afford.

I searched and asked for help and finally got the number of a local clinic that does hormone therapy. Once again Colin (then Emma) was so happy. Soon she could be herself. The doctor informed Colin that he’d be rendered infertile as soon as he started hormone therapy and anyone I’d talked to who knew otherwise was anecdotal. We couldn’t afford a sperm bank.

And that was the final straw. Colin asked to go back to Colin again. Asked for me to use he and him. If he couldn’t have a baby while female, he wasn’t going to transition.

So now I have an invisible daughter. I know she’s there. I catch a glimpse of her sometimes in the way Colin fluffs back his hair. In the shape of a smile. But no one else sees her.

“Do you miss being female?” I asked and was surprised when Colin shook his head no. I thought for a moment.

“Do you still feel female?” I asked.

“Of course,” Colin replied instantly. “I just can’t be female because I want kids.”

“You’re going to need to tell your girlfriend you’re a woman,” I pointed out. It was Colin’s turn to look surprised.

“Why?” he asked.

“Aren’t you going to transition after having kids?”

“Well no,” he replied. “By the time I have kids it would be harder… well, anyways, I’m ugly enough already as it is.”

He left the room and my heart broke.

Facebook memes…

I was on the bus this morning, scrolling through Facebook, when I saw a meme… one of those “Like and share if you love your son with all your heart” images. My first thought was ‘it would be nice to have a meme to share for Jeremy’, my second was ‘I could make one’, and my third was ‘with all my heart?’ Zie takes up a lot of space but I’ve got another kid and cats and chocolate too. I decided to make at least one meme when I got home and some chocolate pudding.

I was on my way home this afternoon, once again scrolling through Facebook, and I saw a post asking if anyone had seen any gender neutral kid memes. I wasn’t alone… for the meme at least and probably not for the leaving space in my heart for chocolate either.

I’ve made two memes, one for non-binary kids and one for gender creative kids and stuck them on my Facebook page. Now everyone can join in on the meme sharing craze 🙂 Also, if you have a kidlet that’s being missed by the meme’s let me know and I’ll see what me and my decade old scrapbooking program can do.

I am looking for information…

I’m not going to say why but I would dearly love articles and/or information explaining why and how it’s important to support the gender expression of transgender and gender non conforming children. Specifically toddler/pre-school age children up to and including early elementary.

I would love as many articles/information as you can find. Please flood me with information and ask as many people as you can. I promise this is very important.

Thank you.

I hate writing titles…

There… got that one out of the way. I’ve been staring at the screen for five minutes trying to think of a title that I haven’t used yet but  came up with nothing. I hate writing them.

The last time I wrote was on Monday after getting a call from the school official and had been quite hopeful. Then I got the call from the VP and suddenly became less optimistic. She referred to Jeremy as he and him again through the whole short phone call and had a meeting set for Wednesday afternoon… as in that very next day. I work and can’t just call my manager and say, “Whoops, I won’t be there tomorrow. Sorry about that.” They’re already fairly lenient about me taking 10 and 15 minute long phone calls from the school as it is. Luckily the VP was able to make a second meeting for today. I have no idea what they discussed on Wednesday but as far as I know they didn’t cancel it since I was informed Jeremy could go back to school on Thursday after their meeting. I felt better waiting until after mine.

I was going to write a blog post on Wednesday. Jeremy wants me to be the one to tell family about zir being transgender as zie doesn’t want to face their first reactions. I’d hoped to get some letter writing ideas and resources. But Jeremy slept a grand total of seven hours over two days and zie’s not a quiet child. I got woken up by Jeremy tripping over one of the cats as zie stumbled down the hallway. Then zie decided to get a bite to eat. Then checked every single cupboard twice to see what we have and checked a third time just in case anything magically appeared. Then hovered in front of the fridge before finally microwaving the leftover pizza. I know all this because I could hear the doors opening and closing from the other side of the apartment, with my bedroom door nearly completely closed and a fan on. I didn’t sleep much more than seven hours over two nights either. All this meant I was much too tired to write. I ended up pestering Lenny instead.

I decided to tell my Mom about Jeremy during our planned Friday shopping trip, figuring in person would be better than on the phone. I kept that plan right until this morning. That was when I realized our only talking time would be either while my Mom was driving down a busy road or while we were walking through stores. Neither seemed a viable option. Jeremy went off to have a shower and I made my call.

My Mom’s voice got colder when I broached the subject. She figured something was up with all the transgender stuff I’ve been posting lately. I actually haven’t posting anything. A friend of mine, who knows about Jeremy posted this on my page…

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I really liked it and in fact shared it with Jeremy but it very clearly says that it was posted by someone else, although my Mom might not have noticed that. The only other things I can come up with is that I’ve joined two groups for parents of transgender children recently; one’s secret but the other is simply closed. My first thought was it might have shown up on my page, something like “Michelle I’m-Not-Coming-Up-With-A-Fake-Last-Name just joined [insert fabulous group name here]” but I checked my page and nothing showed up. Actually I viewed my page as it would look to my Mom and none of my closed groups are even visible. I was, however, warned that it might show up as a suggestion to friends so maybe that’s what happened.

The flip side is that while I’m sure there are kids who totally blindside people, Jeremy’s not one of them. I showed zir picture to a coworker a couple of days ago, announcing that “this is my child Jeremy”. The coworker gave the phone a good long look then peered at me intently.

“Did you know your son also looks like a girl?”

I couldn’t come up with anything sarcastic on the fly so simply assured her that, yes, I knew my child looked like both a boy and a girl. I’m sure my Mom hasn’t missed this either.

The phone call did not go well. She didn’t want to know anything about it. At all. She loves Jeremy but these things needed to be kept private. I just needed to explain to Jeremy that all sorts of men really do like feminine things too; like my Dad enjoys rug hooking. You know, just in case that information had slipped my mind. And then she told me how confrontational I was and how I go out of my way to make things difficult and throw things in people’s faces. Like being vegan and that whole agnostic thing. Agnostic translating to being an atheist for the past 30 years… which is obviously something I’ve done to be super edgy.

I retaliated that I didn’t want to be confrontational or difficult, I simply wanted to be myself and didn’t feel I had to be exactly the same as everyone else in the family. And that Jeremy was the same; that zie had the right to be zirself without being accused of being confrontational or trying to be different. Or trendy, because my Mom tried to claim that too.

I got off the phone with my Mom, cried a little and messaged Lenny. Then Jeremy got out off the shower and we headed off for the meeting. We walked into the school and I sarcastically quipped that we were going to go inside, they’d use all the proper pronouns, everything would be sorted out, and then we’d ride home on our unicorns. I was partly right.

I got Jeremy’s safety plan when we got inside and immediately noticed they’d written ze and zir down for pronouns. Not exactly right but a decent attempt, and a slight misspelling was definitely not the hill I was willing to die on. The poor principal looked panicked every time he was reminded about pronouns. He’d frantically use Jeremy’s name and struggle to loop sentences to avoid any pronouns whatsoever… then he’d lapse back into he and him a minute or so later. Everyone did make an effort though and Jeremy seemed happy with it.

We got everything reasonably sorted out and I went home only to get a phone call. Jeremy was refusing to read a list of words aloud. Granted, zie has language based issues and reads silently a lot better than reading out loud but this was a reading assessment and needed to be done. They offered to do the reading one on one. The VP even offered to write the whole list out on index cards in case zie was finding the list hard to read but Jeremy refused saying the list was pointless. So zie did zir spelling in the office.

My shopping trip with my Mom went well. We browsed around the first couple of stores then Mom broached the subject of transgender in the car on the way to the third store. She wanted me to tell Jeremy that she loves “him” but that zie’ll always be a “he” because of genitals. I told her that I’d tell Jeremy that she loves zir but there was no way I was saying the rest. She continued to argue about genitals and how society’s changed and now people are way too interested in labeling everything instead of simply letting people be humans. I retaliated with commenting that some societies have up to five genders (thanks for that information Charlie) and that Native Canadians traditionally had two spirited people who didn’t identify as male or female and were considered quite highly. Then I brought up studies showing actual differences in the brain where FtM trans people resembled biological men and MtF trans people resembled biological females. She seemed to listen and assured me she considers Jeremy to be honest, intelligent, thoughtful, friendly, and fun to be around… that “he’s” a good kid.

Jeremy’s off at zir youth group meeting and hopefully having a good time. I just got off the phone with Emma but I’ll need to save what’s going on with her for a different post because I’ve rambled way too much now.