Friends and family…

I wrote a letter two days ago and, after reading it to Jeremy and getting zir approval, I posted it on Facebook. This is the letter…

Seventeen and a half years ago the doctor told me I had a baby boy. The doctor was wrong. Jeremy is transgender, identifying as non-binary trans or bi-gender. Zie explained this to our family doctor as “if gender was a cupcake, I’d be a blue cupcake with pink frosting”, which has got to be the sweetest analogy ever.

Since Jeremy isn’t male, zie is no longer using the pronouns he and him. Instead zie’s using the pronouns zie and zir. These are not hard to use. Zie is used exactly the same as he/she and zir is used like her/him. You can read an excerpt of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland here to see them in action: http://genderneutralpronoun.wordpress.com/about/alice/zie-zir/

If you care about and respect Jeremy, you will use these pronouns. It is that simple. You will slip up and make mistakes. I do and so does Emma. Heck, so does Jeremy for that matter. The important part is simply trying. What I find helps is using the pronouns when you’re thinking about Jeremy, that way it becomes a habit.

There is a 41% attempted suicide rate for trans people (compared with a 1.6% rate for cisgender people) mostly due to a lack of acceptance. Jeremy has already expressed thoughts of suicide. That 41% is not an abstract number, it is real and terrifying. Using zie and zir for pronouns makes Jeremy feel safe and accepted. Please use them, especially if you see zir in real life. It will make a huge difference.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you 🙂

The response was overwhelmingly positive. So far 60 people have liked the post and I got a wide assortment of comments like…

I’m sure you took a deep breath before sitting down to make this post. It had to be a hard one to type up… I hope you and Jeremy are met with loving and accepting responses to this post. I know meeting you and hearing so much about Jeremy has been an eye opener for me. I try my best to be open-minded and accepting of others, and you all have helped to open my mind in areas that I didn’t realized it was closed. Thank you, Michelle and thank you, Jeremy.

Zie is a sweetie, always has been 🙂

Zie is adorable. Every time you post zir pictures, I just want to go all cheek pinching Auntie on zir.

Followed by…

BUT YOU’RE SO FLIPPIN ADORABLE, JEREMY! COME LET AUNTIE SQUISH YOUR CHEEKS!!!

Huge hugs to both of you and the rest of your family! My oldest is also trans and having a family that supports them is so super important! I just want to give zie a big ol’ hug!!!! If you also need any support info, I have tons of stuff!

What a brave zie! So proud of you both for sharing this. This zie and zir is not something I had heard of before. Thank you!

Great pronoun explanation! I’m so happy Jeremy is so strong and free to be true to zirself, and has a great family and friends that has zir back! (How did I do? lol)

Zie is so adorable. Please give zir a hug from me (I will refrain from cheek-pinching!)

Yay!! Coming out is hard but so worth it. Good for zir and good for you!!!  Also… I guess you’re no longer obligated to write “kidlet” several times a sentence, eh? lol 🙂

Everyone deserves to be happy in his/her/zie/zir body. So glad Jeremy has a family who supports zir.
Now if we could just get the rest of society on board….

I’ll be honest. Posting this on Facebook was more for me than Jeremy. Zie has a Facebook account but never uses it, meanwhile I’m on Facebook multiple times a day and I was growing increasingly tired of avoiding pronouns. Besides, as one friend commented via message (and as my Mom said when I told her originally), it wasn’t really much of a surprise. Now we can move on and I can use pronouns again. I was using kidlet a lot.

While I posted my letter, Emma wrote a poem for zir sibling.

Jeremy

To call Emma supportive might be a bit of an understatement 🙂

Then came the disappointing part. I have 22 relatives on Facebook (not counting Emma and Jeremy). Not a single one of them commented or liked the post. Karen posted pictures within minutes of my letter and an aunt popped up to comment on the pictures. But silence on my page. With 60 likes and 85 comments, there’s no way my post was missed. Facebook loves posts like that; I’m sure it’s still showing up at the top of people’s pages.

I have no idea if we’re being gossiped about. If we are, we aren’t hearing about it. And, if they aren’t being supportive, I don’t want to hear about it.

The best part about my letter is my friends. Every single reply since I’ve posted has used Jeremy’s proper pronouns. Maybe, with some luck, my family will see it’s not odd to be supportive and they’ll follow suit.

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That’s not supportive…

Jeremy had his parent teacher interview on Tuesday. He was at the tail end of another two day suspension so I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about going. But I went anyways because it’s important and because his teacher really does care about Jeremy. She’s genuinely trying to help.

One thing I haven’t mentioned before is that Jeremy’s autistic. I’m never sure how much to share; what information will be the tipping point for someone to say “hey, I know who that is”. Jeremy has what’s known as high functioning autism, which is very similar to Aspergers. There are two issues with autism that relate to school. One is he can get angry very easily and the other is he will perseverate on certain things. Which is why, when his teacher commented he got angry over a discussion on opposites, I groaned. I knew exactly what was coming.

The very first question the educational assistant asked him was, “What’s the opposite of boy?” and then she couldn’t understand why he got upset with this question. Instead of acknowledging that was not a good example, they tried to argue with him that boy and girl were opposites when it comes to words and they didn’t want to get into gender issues during a language class. Then they couldn’t understand why he kept coming back to that line on the page, insisting that boy and girl weren’t opposites; that you could feel like both a boy and a girl.

“Umm… that is something you’re better off just not discussing with Jeremy,” I commented tactfully. “I wouldn’t bring it up at all.”

And yet his teacher is trying. During a class discussion on personal hygiene, Jeremy told everyone that he likes to shave his legs. The teacher promptly informed the class that one of the male teachers in the school does body building and he shaves his arms and legs to show off his muscles. And Jeremy felt comfortable enough in the class to have one of the educational assistants paint his nails and to ask for “gay stuff” during sex ed. Obviously in some ways she is being supportive.

Then came a discussion on Facebook.

Yesterday I posted the same link on Facebook about Vancouver as I did here. I got several positive comments then a relative of mine (Amy) jumped into the thread early this afternoon. One of the first things she posted, right in the middle of a ‘rah-rah if you’re transgender go proudly into the washroom of the gender you identify with’ speech, was that “a person who is transgendered isn’t seeking to be gender-neutral or gender-free – they are seeking to become the opposite gender from which they were born”.

I politely disagreed with her, explaining trans* includes people who don’t identify as either gender. I even included a link explaining neutrois to her. This was fairly pointless as I don’t think she even read it. She simply posted a chiding message that anyone can put anything online and not to believe everything I read.

Then Lenny posted, explaining zie is transgender and doesn’t identify with either binary gender. Amy proceeded to thank zir for sharing “personal stories” then explained that she was confident in her knowledge and profession. In essence, she told Lenny that zie was wrong and didn’t know what being transgender was. My jaw dropped.

Amy also considered changing the signs on washrooms to be no more than a bandaid solution, ignoring the other steps they were suggesting in the article. All the while arguing that she didn’t want to use the same washroom as a man, which wasn’t in any of the steps I read.

Then it got worse. A friend of mine didn’t feel comfortable posting in the thread and messaged me instead, asking me to share this. “Can you tell her that as an actual trans person, I don’t see this as a band-aid. I see this as a step toward being regarded as a human being.”

Amy, while claiming to be supportive, went on to say my friend was part of the problem. That the thread was non-threatening and, even though the thread is visible to everyone on my friends list (which is just over 200 people), if “he or she” didn’t feel comfortable posting as trans* to all those people, that made her “question the legitimacy of that person’s fear to pee in a public bathroom”. My jaw dropped even further. The “he or she” comments made it obvious my sister was ignoring everything Lenny and I said. And the friend doesn’t identify with either gender.

A couple of other people tried to point out to her the irony of telling actual trans* people that they don’t know what transgender is. She claimed we were all bullying her then stormed off the thread while dropping expletives and proclaiming that she’s a professional.

The sad part is, she is a professional. She works with vulnerable, mentally ill teenagers and some of them do identify as transgender. And I’m sure she is supportive… to a point. If she has a teenager there who is biologically male and identifies as female, she’ll be supportive. Or vice versa. The thing is, real life isn’t that neat and tidy.

While she was posting her goodbye rant, I was brushing Jeremy’s hair (which is almost long enough for a pony tail) and making sure he had everything he needed for a trip to the movies with his LGBTQ group. And I was talking with another friend of mine who was in the process of coming out to me as being closer to gender neutral than cisgender.

And she’s right. She has actual university education and is a professional. My only information comes from talking and listening to trans* people. And there is a lot for me to learn. The difference is I’m willing to learn.