Flashback Friday…

I was going through old videos today and found this one. It’s not fancy or artistic or preplanned. It was just a bit of afternoon fun. I’m so glad I recorded it to remind myself of what the kids were like when they were little. They grew so fast! Enjoy!

 

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There are places I remember…

I stood in the middle of the kitchen and finally had to admit that apartment just wouldn’t work for us. The landlord billed it as a three bedroom and it was ostensibly. Two of the three bedrooms would barely support a crib let alone a bed and every room we saw came with a list of furniture we simply couldn’t fit into the apartment. I was in the kitchen, wondering who could store our solid maple hutch, when I realized we’d have to give up half of our furniture to move in. It just wasn’t feasible. We turned the apartment down.

We were at my parents’ house a few days later and walked in as my sister was describing the apartment she’d just turned down. The whole place needed repainting from top to bottom and the front door was, oddly enough, on the landing at the middle of the stairs. It was a two bedroom (I was pregnant with Colin at the time) and there was a shared backyard. She was dismissive. I was intrigued.

Monday found me at the building trying to find any contact information. There was no apartment for rent sign and no one answered the superintendent’s buzzer. My ex arrived with Kait and a short while later the super arrived. We signed the rental agreement 15 minutes later. The paint was fine and we’d have our own patio and a share of the backyard.

Jeremy in 1998I have so many happy memories from this apartment. We did some big things but it’s the little ones I remember. Sitting reading poetry and bedtime stories at night then singing lullabies to help them sleep. The time they both were sick so I let them blow bubbles in the living room… those hard to pop bubbles that were so popular those days. Playing in the backyard… doing the actions to the Grand Old Duke of York and the Bear went over the Mountain while I sang. We got one of those big wading pools with the rigid sides and I’d stick the foot of their slide into the pool so they could have a water slide. And every warm night the kids took their baby dolls out for a walk around the block in their strollers.

As they grew older, our excursions widened. We went to all the local parks (not all at theOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA same time). One of their favourite past times was building a “sand bloom”. This involved dumping a huge pile of sand at the bottom of the slide then sliding through only to build it again. The washer was sometimes gritty but it was worth it for their laughter.

We lucked out and got new neighbours with kids the same age as mine. We did so many activities with them as well as simply playing at home together.

Colin and Kait at McRae PointEvery single summer my parents drove us to a local campground for a week of camping fun. We started out at a small campground then moved to a bigger one that was a bit closer. Both kids were fishes and loved being in the water. We caught (and released) frogs, roasted marshmallows, sang campfire songs, and read before bed. They were magical times I still look back on and enjoy.

Life wasn’t perfect. I was perpetually broke and had to plan the kids’ birthdays half afirst profile picture year in advance so I could afford the basics for a party. Presents were often bought at Dollarama and riding the bus was a luxury we could rarely afford. But we still had fun and I always had food in the kitchen and snacks available.

I went to the dentist today and walked along Green Street to stand diagonally across the street from our old building. It’s been sold a couple of times since we lived there and half the hedge is dead from vines, something our superintendent warned would happen. It looked a lot smaller than I remembered. Maybe it was all the memories stuffed in it that made it seem bigger to me than in reality. There’s a Dollarama where our old grocery store used to be and I picked up a couple of items before heading for home.

At the time it seemed like they’d be young forever. The days were so long and filled with a myriad of little activities. But of course they grew up. The days go by so much more quickly now. Now Kait’s in my former position of Mommy, raising her baby and keeping him entertained. I hope she ends up with as many happy memories as I have or even more.

Goodbye Green Street. You were a wonderful place to raise a family!

Back to school - Kait grade 1 2001b

Detransitioning…

“Mom?”

“Yes,” I said.

I stopped walking and stood in front of Colin’s bedroom door. He was sitting at his computer desk, his video game paused behind him; one of his car games that make me dizzy when he asks me to watch.

“I don’t want you to call me Emma anymore. I want you to call me Colin from now on.”

“Are you still female?” I asked and he nodded.

“Okay,” I replied and, with that, he swung back to his game and I continued on to the kitchen.

We’ve been living in limbo since mid December, with Colin announcing every few days that he’s probably going to detransition and go back to male because he wants children… but he might stay female so keep calling him Emma. I’ve let him know that there are women who stopped their hormones and began producing sperm again. One couple I heard of ended up with twins. But there aren’t enough cases and no studies we could find. And his doctor told him he’d become infertile. That, to him, meant more than a handful of internet stories.

All I’ve ever wanted for my children is for them to be happy, not just in general but as themselves. Going back to male isn’t being himself. But it’s his life to live and his time to stretch out and make decisions. This isn’t my decision to make.

So I changed my “about” page again and got his permission to change his name on Facebook. This was more for me than him because I’m the one who tags him in funny posts, knowing he won’t see them otherwise. But it also sends a message to family and friends on what to call him.

I don’t know how long he’ll stay pretending to be male. He says he wants kids first but he’s not dating and, right now his focus is on school. He could change his mind in months if the dysphoria becomes worse. It could be years. But some day, he’ll come to me for support and I’ll have to relearn calling him Emma. No matter what, I love him either way.

Emma's new kitty ear headphones

I’ve shared it before but it’s one of my favourite pictures of him and worth sharing again 🙂

An update on “How not to react when your child comes out as gay”

Last summer I posted about Daniel Pierce’s coming out video, showing how horribly his family reacted when he told them he was gay. He recently posted an update to detail how much his life has improved.

Sometimes there’s good news 🙂

Daniel Pierce

Link to article 🙂

It’s not about you…

I remember being pregnant with my children, feeling as their gentle flutters progressed into full belly flops on my bladder and painful karate kicks against the backs of my ribs. Back then I had no clue what my children would be like; they were more like ideas than real people. I’d sit in my rocking chair with my hands clasped gently over my stomach and wonder who they’d be. Dreaming of children who loved singing as much as me; envisioning singing rounds, our voices weaving together in harmony.

Then they were born. Short, chubby, bald people who looked a lot more like Winston Churchill than either their Dad or myself. People that screamed randomly, pooped on themselves, and considered “gah” to be an entire conversation. I still had no idea what they were like except loud, messy, and highly uncoordinated. They slowly evolved into their own people. Kait was colicky and had a desperate need to be held by me. She developed a heat rash across one cheek because she could only sleep while draped across my chest, listening to my heart. Colin was more laid back, willing to be held by anyone or to simply chill on a blanket. Weirdly enough Kait was the one who walked early, desperate to explore on her own while Colin was half a month past zir first birthday before zie took zir first cautious steps away from me.

As for the singing, Kait was happy enough to sing with me as a toddler (I have video proof of this) but quickly decided she couldn’t sing and refused despite encouragement from me. Colin has never sung in front of me. The only times I’ve ever heard zir sing is through zir closed bedroom door while zie listens to music.

I have never mourned their lack of interest in singing beyond some vague, wishful “gee it would be nice…” musings on a very rare occasion. Because of this I don’t have any statistical proof, however I have good reason to believe people would be fairly unsympathetic if I bemoaned my lack of musical offspring. They’d rightly ponder my mental health if I insisted on pretending my children played musical instruments and talked about our imaginary music nights; even if I coached it as needing time to let go of my need for musical children. They’d tell me to smarten up and accept the fact my children just aren’t musically inclined. That not everyone enjoys singing and to take pleasure in the children I have and appreciate the music they listen to.

I’ve watched as parents get supported for struggling, and failing, to cope with their child being transgender. I’ve seen parents talk about deliberately misgendering their child for months on end because it was too hard for them. Parents who used non-binary pronouns, despite not having a gender neutral child, because they didn’t feel ready to switch over to the pronouns their child preferred. One common thread through all these conversations is “I need…”

You know what? It’s not about you!

We don’t get to pick the kids we raise. We don’t get to choose their height, their hair colour, their IQ, their skills, their goals, or their gender. It’s that simple. I couldn’t pick singing skills and you can’t pick gender. And it doesn’t matter if you think you were raising a boy and instead, whoops, she’s a girl… or vice versa… or neither… or both.

Actually, to be fair, it does matter. When I started getting Colin tested for autism, I went through a spell of mourning. Zie’d been born absolutely perfect and then zir eyes started turning in. Surgery fixed this and everything was normal… except zie wasn’t talking. I was assured speech therapy would make a difference and soon zie would be normal. For a while that seemed to be the case but I soon realized more was going on. All my vague searches turned up autism, which wasn’t something zie’d outgrow ever. There was no “and then everything would be normal” at the end of that diagnosis. I did my brief bout of mourning away from Colin because this was my issue and not zir’s. The same goes for having an LGBTQ child. Take some private time to set aside your dreams and goals while realizing they’re yours. In the meantime be your child’s biggest supporter. Realize they need you now more than ever. They need to know you are right there behind them for support (just like that first time on the monkey bars… all set to catch them if they drop).

Because there is something matters a whole lot more. Take a good long look at this chart (these stats are worse than the ones for LGB youths, which are already too high)…

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There’s a huge difference between the dark and pale blue sections. 57% is a scarily high number. Now take a closer look. That pale blue section includes “somewhat supportive parents”. The benchmark for being a good, supportive parent to a trans child is not “well I didn’t kick him/her/them out”. If you can’t manage to use your child’s preferred name and pronouns, you are not a supportive parent.

Today I read a letter about two unsupportive parents, written by their teen before she stepped in front of a transport truck, completely without hope that she’d ever be able to live her life as a girl.

Leelah

Leelah was 17 years old when she died. I’ve linked her archived Tumblr blog* to the picture but this is part of what she wrote in her note…

“When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.

I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.

The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.”

Her parents ignored what she was saying to them. They ignored her pleas for acceptance and instead they told her she was wrong and going against god’s will. They dragged her to Christian conversion therapists who told her the same thing. When she tried to ease them into acceptance by coming out as gay instead, they took away all her social media and blocked her from her real life friends as well. They also refused any sort of transitioning help, including blockers. All they wanted was a son, even if this was an illusion. And they clung to this illusion even after her death…

misgendered memorial

Photo found via Tumblr

Even after death, her mother couldn’t accept her as Leelah. She couldn’t see what she’d done. One of Leelah’s friends corrected the post for her…

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Corrections by Shani Mer Bryan. Found on Transgender Graphics

This is what it boils down to. If you find yourself struggling with supporting your child and getting bogged down with “why me” and “I don’t know if I can deal with this”, scroll up and take a good long look at Leelah’s face. You can do this because your child is counting on you. Please go and make a better future for our childrens’ sake… for Leelah’s sake.

Also, she asked for donations to be made to any trans groups. Pick one and make a donation in her honour.

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Art by Mike Kirby

And please, if you’re feeling suicidal, there are people who care. People who will listen. Go to my resources page and you will find a list of phone numbers and websites. You can also message me at secretmom@email.com. You are not alone.

* Leelah’s parents deleted her Tumblr and final words. Luckily the internet is pretty much forever and archived copies have been found.

Is there anything new?

Jeremy and I were watching Doctor Who last night when the phone rang right in the middle of an alien invasion. I hate when that happens.

Jeremy rolled his eyes and pressed pause on the video. He knew who was calling. I have his Dad’s number set up with an “it’s probably a wrong number” ringtone, which is appropriate since I figure about 60% of his calls are either butt dials or him trying to reach someone else.

I find it frustrating that when my ex asks about Emma and Jeremy, it’s always a vague, “So is there anything new going on with the kids that I should know about?”. He doesn’t know the kids well enough to ask any specific questions plus he is prone to manipulating and playing games so sometimes he already has an answer and wants to see if I’ll cough up the same one. I’m neither willing or interested in playing games.

Last night he stepped up his questioning by asking “Is anything happening in the kids’ lives that I should know about?” as well as his usual version of the question. By then Jeremy had moved off his chair and onto his new exercise machine.

I turned to look at him, one foot on one of the pedals and the other hovering mid air as he swung back and forth. He was wearing a pair of ladies pyjamas and his purple toe polish glittered in the light. He tucked his hair behind one ear, showcasing his new earring and smiled when he noticed my attention.

‘Your son’s probably trans,’ I thought to myself.

“No,” I said out loud. “Nothing’s going on. The kids are both fine.”

The call finished with a request for me to text him Jeremy’s phone number. This number used to be Emma’s for years, their Dad had it memorized back then. Meanwhile he asks for Jeremy’s number every couple of months. I think he’s called once.

“Tell Jeremy I’ll call him either tonight or tomorrow morning,” my ex said earnestly, ignoring that Jeremy was right beside me and I could easily hand over the phone.

“I will,” I agreed. He didn’t call.

How to Dad…

When Jeremy was small, people would ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up and his answer was always the same, “I want to be a Daddy.” But over the years that answer slowly faded.

A couple of weeks ago Jeremy told Emma that he felt mostly male with a bit of female but if he’d had the choice he would have been born a girl. Two days ago I asked him why there was such a difference between his two statements. If he felt mostly male then why did he wish he’d been born a girl?

“I want to be a parent when I grow up but I want my kids to love me and look up to me,” he replied. “Kids don’t really respect their Dads. They love and look up to their Moms so I’d rather be a Mom.”

If I could go back in time and pick a better father for my kids I would. But then again I wouldn’t have Jeremy or Emma.

“Hon, all sorts of kids love their Dads and think they’re wonderful,” I assured him. “You’ll be a good parent and your kids will look up to you.”

He nodded but he didn’t look convinced. My Dad’s a great father but Jeremy hasn’t seen much of him in years and, while Jeremy looks up to my friends P and M, they’re not fathers. Jeremy’s only real parental role model is me and I’m not male. I’d thought I’d told him over the years that mothers and fathers are equal but I either didn’t or Jeremy wasn’t listening (or a mixture of the two).

If Jeremy wanted to be a mother because he felt female that would be one thing but wanting to be a mother because he feels Dads aren’t good enough… well that was heart breaking.

Then came yesterday. A friend of mine posted a Cheerios video on Facebook, saying it was finally a decent media portrayal of a father, so I immediately watched then called Jeremy in before I even finished so he could watch it too.

The video is beyond cheesy. The Dad does a non-stop narration on being a father, while complimenting and high-fiving his kids. The kids meanwhile follow him around while pretty much hero worshiping him. And at the end, apropos of nothing, he suddenly starts flogging peanut butter Cheerios. Jeremy loved the whole thing…

Obviously one video isn’t going to be a cure-all for Jeremy’s views on fatherhood but it was nice to have some back up to my claim. I also picked up peanut butter Cheerios on the way home from work today.

And, because I’m on Facebook all the freaking time anyways, I’ve now made a Because I’m Fabulous Facebook page. Feel free to go and like. Or, if you’re too shy, just go and look. I’ve got extra pictures and quotes and stuff.