It’s not child abuse…

A friend of mine was accused recently of child abuse by someone she knows. Her child is loved and supported, disciplined fairly, has a clean and safe home, and plenty of food. The child is not abused by any stretch of the imagination. And most people would agree with this statement… right until they learn the child is trans. Then everything falls apart.

Some people argue it’s abuse to let a child transition because “what if they change their mind?”. Okay, so what if they do? There is no surgery performed on children. No hormones. If a child changes their mind, all that’s involved is clothing, a hair style, and some paperwork. Know how I know? Because it happens. Not nearly as often as some organizations claim but it does. Sometimes the child turns out to be between or beyond male and female… sometimes they turn out to be cisgender. And the parents do another wardrobe switch and let the kid change hair styles. And that’s it, it’s that simple.

Others argue that it’s abuse because the child is too young to know. How many people here have ever met a toddler who didn’t know their own mind. They know what they want to wear, what they want to eat, how they want their hair, and they know their gender. Most of the time people have no problem with this. They aren’t concerned when a child with a vulva says “I’m a girl” because she’s old enough to know that. It’s only if she has a penis that she’s too young.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jeremy at three years old

Then there’s the people who have the best of intentions. What if the child gets teased? I hate to break it to them but all children get teased at some point and it can be over anything (or nothing). You can’t prevent teasing by restricting your child. You prevent teasing by teaching children kindness, coping skills and how to handle social interactions.

Jeremy went to a birthday party when they were four years old. The girls all got princess Barbie napkins and the boys got plain blue ones. Jeremy immediately asked for a Barbie one, which surprised the mother of the birthday girl.

“I thought the boys would rather have blue,” she said in confusion as she handed Jeremy the coveted pink Barbie napkin.

Every other boy in the room immediately asked for one too. It’s easy to say that gender stereotypes are inherent but it’s hard to judge considering how we ingrain them from before birth.

What I don’t get is how people can denigrate a little boy (or a child perceived to be male) for acting feminine, for being a “sissy”, or for liking the colour pink. They consider it okay to make their child cry over their personality or preferences in order to “toughen that child up”. Even though that attitude comes with a 75% chance of suicidal depression and a 58% chance of that child attempting suicide before the age of 24 years old. Yet they’ll claim allowing the child to be well adjusted and feel happy and supported with their gender expression is abuse.

Listen to your child. Love them. Trust them. They know who they are.

Advertisements

Jeremy’s fabulous room…

Back in the spring I painted my bedroom and blithely announced that Jeremy’s room would be next. I figured we’d be painting zir room within the month but every time it was cleaned zie’d trash it within days. Plus I’d bring up painting and Jeremy would insist zir room was just fine the way it was and zie certainly didn’t need paint. Just buy zir a video game instead. Like zie needs any more.

I thought about how nervous I’d been when I first started painting. I was terrified I’d made a horrible mistake and I’d end up hating my room. The reverse was true. I settled down to tell Jeremy just that and promised it would be the same for zir. The next day we found purple floral sheers on clearance at Giant Tiger, which Jeremy loved, and then zie was tentatively on board.

We bought Palace Purple paint then settled into painting. Or more honestly, I settled into painting while Jeremy drew happy faces on the wall.

happy face

Jeremy was disappointed because I apparently took a picture of zir worst happy face.

After reminding zir a few times to focus and actually paint, I went into the kitchen to make dinner then came back to discover zie’d painted about three quarters of the room. I was right *jots this down in my calendar* Jeremy saw zir favourite colour and suddenly painting seemed a whole lot more important. I went to work the next day and came home to discover zie’d bought a new can of paint and was busily painting the final corners.

“Take a look around Mom. Can you see any spots I missed?” Jeremy asked as soon as I walked in the door. I peered inside with my work shoes still on.

“The trim there,” I said pointing at a pale spot on the wall, “and that corner there. Otherwise it looks good!” Zie quickly hurried to paint those last two spots.

We got all zir furniture back in place that night, which is good because zie was diagnosed with bronchitis the next day. Talk about timing! At least Jeremy could collapse into bed with all zir stuffed animals and not trip on paint supplies on zir way. The hardest part for me was I wasn’t there. Zie called me on my break to say zie really wasn’t feeling well and thought it would be good to see the doctor. I suggested which walk in clinic to visit then went back on the floor and waited for zir call. Jeremy’s both trans and autistic, I did not wait well, but the doctor was amazing and zie came home with a prescription for antibiotics (and had those filled too by the time I got home).

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in Canada. It’s a harvest festival loosely based on a minor religious celebration in England. I don’t know what it’s like there but here it’s a time for family feasts and going for walks to look at the autumn splendour. My parents came over for dinner and a short walk through the nearby park, short because my Dad hasn’t fully recovered from February. Then my Dad and Jeremy hung up zir new floral curtains.

installing the curtain rod

Everyone was suitably impressed that Jeremy’s drill has a built in light.

And, with that, Jeremy’s room was done. Well, done until zir next big project at least. This is zir room before…

before

The pictures were hung primarily to hide the holes left by the previous tenant, who had mounted some pretty heavy electronics. The blinds were from the previous tenant too.

And this is Jeremy’s room now…

the finished room

The paint’s not perfect and at some point zie’ll have to touch up the heater but it looks good and zie loves it. Jeremy picked it all out, from the paint colour to the wall art to the stuffed animals. This room is zirs…

candles2

… and it looks fabulous!