The call display on the work phone showed Jeremy’s school. I sighed and picked up the phone. “National Fast Food chain. How may I help you?” I said cheerfully.
“May I please speak to Michelle?” The voice was quiet, almost hesitant. This definitely wasn’t the principal.
“This is Michelle,” I replied.
“This is Ms. Teacher. Jeremy’s being sent home now. He was in the other room today, helping make a meal, when he was asked to pour juice for the class. He refused then started swearing at the teacher and the EA’s. I wasn’t there, so I didn’t see it, but when they asked him to get out the apple juice for his classmates, he told them all to fuck off.”
I thanked her for letting me know and informed her that zie’d be missing most of next week due to counselling and the concert.
“Oh oops, zie,” she said with a slight chuckle. “I meant to say that.”
Maybe she did but chances are if she was using zir pronouns regularly she wouldn’t misgender Jeremy every single time we talk. It’s been half a year now since our meeting regarding pronouns, that’s plenty of time to get used to zir pronouns.
I waited about 15 minutes before I called Jeremy to give zir time to get out of school. Then I listened as the phone rang and rang. Yesterday Jeremy informed me that zir teacher was told Jeremy’d been sent home due to attitude (I still have no idea what happened) but that zie’d been told to go to the AR room for quiet time. Which means no one knew where zie was for at least an hour. Had there been a similar mix up today? Then zie answered and let me know zie was on the way home.
“What happened?” I asked cautiously before bracing myself for the coming onslaught of words. When Jeremy’s upset, zir words tumble out like a tidal wave of tangled emotions and thoughts.
The first go around, all I caught were the words “… told me my gender was a choice”.
“So this wasn’t about the apple juice,” I commented then asked zir to tell me again.
Once again they divided the class by boys and girls and served them “ladies first”. Jeremy complained that was sexist and they should serve the men first sometimes too. They started out telling zir that they almost never serve the girls first, something I know isn’t true because Jeremy complains regularly about their “ladies first” comments. Then one of the educational assistants told Jeremy repeatedly that she didn’t know why he was complaining because he’d chosen to be in the middle so would never be first no matter what. That was when zie got told to serve the juice. Of course nothing before the juice was deemed relevant to share with me (or presumably Jeremy’s primary teacher).
By this time I was over halfway home and so was Jeremy. I made plans to meet zir at a nearby grocery store. It was freezing out and I figured if I went home first, I simply was not going to get back out again.
“Mom? Can you please be ready when I get there? I’m going to need the biggest hug ever.” Jeremy sounded plaintive and fairly close to tears. I promised zir I would.
I stood at the back of the store watching for zir, my head turning every time the doors opened and someone walked down an aisle. Nope, that was a balding, middle age man… and an elderly woman… and a young woman… no, wait, that was Jeremy. I hurried over and held out my arms. Jeremy hugged me back as hard as zie could. Zie was weepy and quiet for the rest of the afternoon.
At least Jeremy’s got the weekend to recuperate and I’ve got the weekend to work on yet another letter. This time I’m requesting that every EA and teacher directly responsible for Jeremy has to read the school board’s official document on transgender students. Something has got to change.