Gender Dysphoria…

“I hate my body”

I never wanted this for my child. When I was pregnant, my mantra was “I don’t care if my baby’s a boy or girl, I just want my baby to be happy”. Untreated gender dysphoria isn’t happy. It’s sweatpants and baggy shirts unhappy. It’s a patchy shave because Julie doesn’t want to look at herself in the mirror unhappy.

The only cure is transitioning and there Julie’s stuck. She wants to transition but doesn’t want to look like a man in a dress. So she’s taking baby steps. A pretty shirt… a tiny ponytail… a necklace. Plus she’s still waiting to hear about her doctor, the one who should be able to prescribe hormones.

It boggles my mind the people who think parents choose this for their children, like being trans is some sort of trend. Like instead of buying a Cabbage Patch Kid, we’re going to have a real live Trans Kid. It’s just as much fun as having a Cabbage Patch Kid and comes with bonuses like “where will my kid pee?”, “what do you mean you can’t use her pronouns?”, and “blockers cost HOW much?”

These people seem to think it’s super easy to get a trans kid. There’s no self doubt, 3am bouts of insomnia, or tears. Just one day little Johnny picked up a Barbie and, wham, he’s in a dress (or little Jane picked up a matchbox car and suddenly she’s in a tie and snazzy button up shirt). There really doesn’t seem to be any point in talking with these people. Maybe someone out there’s had better luck than me but I’ve found yelling at rocks to be easier and the rock’s that much more likely to change it’s mind.

Meanwhile the baby steps toward transitioning seem to be helping. Julie has a package of purple razors and floral scented shaving cream for her face and arms plus just knowing the new doctor is coming is a help. She’s gone back to school, a place that lets her work at her own pace and is working toward her grade 12. And she’s working at eating healthier too so when she finally has hips and a chest, they’ll stand out from her stomach.

Then she heads back out the door in sweats and an over sized t-shirt and all I can do is think “soon… hopefully soon.”

Smudge on a walk

Julie’s tiny pony tail and silky shirt

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It’s been eighteen years…

CN: murder, suicide

Eighteen years ago I sat on my couch and cried inconsolably, newspaper on my lap, while Jeremy and their sister played. A young college student, Matthew Shepard, had just been brutally murdered by his peers, solely for being gay. They considered him a threat over who he loved.

I looked at my sweet toddler and wondered about their future. They were so loving, affectionate, and feminine and I worried for them. Were they going to end up gay? What would their future be like?

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Jeremy ~ February 1998

Tears poured down my face while I hoped Matthew had woken up a little near the end, just enough to know he’d been rescued… that people had cared. Enough that he hadn’t died alone. I couldn’t bear the thought that he’d died alone. I could barely bear that he’d died at all. In that moment he wasn’t a stranger’s son but my own child’s future.

Jeremy cynically commented that they were surprised his murderers got charged way back then and I assured them that of course they did. They were charged and convicted. But I had to admit that their cynicism wasn’t out of place. I poured through the papers over those next few months, reading all the articles and hoping for charges… hoping the plea of “gay panic” wouldn’t be accepted. That love wouldn’t be used as an excuse to kill. And it wasn’t… but only barely.

Today my news feed seems to alternate between pictures of Matthew and a story by a young man who survived conversion therapy, despite several suicide attempts. He’d been told 50% of his class would kill themselves and admits that number ended up being correct. The youngest was 13 years old. Those children were placed in that camp by parents who couldn’t accept their children for who they are and were willing to accept a 50% survival rate as long as their child came home straight. They seem to feel it’s better to bury a dead queer than love a live one.

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Jeremy ~ February 2010

A young trans friend of mine attempted suicide a couple of days ago. Another is contemplating it over top surgery. There were the Orlando shootings in June and, in Canada, the young artist Sophie Labelle gets death threats daily for daring to draw queer issues (mostly regarding the T in LGBTQIA). And if I hadn’t been a bit on the delusional side on how high you can jump and live, I wouldn’t be here either. I didn’t want to risk living through a seven storey drop (eight considering we live over the basement drop off) so, ironically, I’m still here too.

Eighteen years ago I’d hoped that our society would have changed dramatically for the better. It’s changed but not enough, not nearly enough. Today is beautiful, warm, and sunny but in my heart it’s raining. I am so tired of the deaths. Please help make it stop.

Michelle’s introductory guide to trans…

There’s a good chance you’re reading this post because a friend shared it on Facebook and you’re curious. You’ve seen Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation via the media and watched Laverne Cox’s character on Orange is the New Black. Maybe you agree that they’re women or maybe you don’t understand why people think “he’s” a woman. Either way you’ve come to the right place.

The best place to start is with a definition. Transgender simply means that someone isn’t the gender they were assigned at birth. Assigned at birth is a common term in the trans community because, when you get right down to it, that’s what happens. If there’s something between the legs and it’s relatively long, the baby’s a boy. If there’s something there but it’s relatively small, the baby’s a girl. If it’s in between that’s what’s referred to as intersex. There is no biology or genetics done here, just a tired doctor eyeballing a newborn’s genitals and ticking a M or F box.

Sometimes people claim to be using biology as proof that trans doesn’t exist. All that does is prove the person really doesn’t understand biology. Gender is a spectrum; there is far more than xx/xy and penis/vagina. Claiming there’s no more to gender than two sets of chromosomes and genitals is akin to claiming algebra doesn’t exist because it doesn’t mesh with what you learned in grade two math. First, as I said above, intersex exists. Second, gender exists in the brain, not between the legs.

Gender and sex development occur in the womb. At the beginning, all zygotes look the same then they begin to differentiate according to hormones and the embryo’s chromosomes. Noticeable visual differences can be seen by the time the fetus reaches 20 weeks. But gender isn’t visible to the naked eye, that develops in the brain and can be seen in brain scans. To put it simply, the fetus’ genitals release small amounts of hormones which are supposed to trigger a hormonal wash to wire the brain. However sometimes the hormones aren’t detected and either not enough or different hormones wash through instead, wiring the brain with a gender that differs from the visible sexual characteristics.

People use the quote “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” on a regular basis and this goes doubly for gender. If you don’t want to be judged by outside appearances, why judge someone else? Women and men come in all different shapes and sizes (and so does everyone in between). I’m sure everyone’s had an incident where they’ve been told they can’t possibly know something about themselves, that someone else knows better. Maybe it was over something silly like developing a taste for a food you hated as a child and having your Mom refuse to serve it to you. Maybe it was over something serious like having your beliefs or sexual orientation dismissed as merely a phase or some sort of rebellion. There’s a frustration that boils up inside when people claim they know you better than you know yourself… an anger and discomfort at being ignored and patronized… a feeling of invisibility. Now imagine how much harder it would be to have the core of your identity ignored and devalued.

Your sex was the first thing other people defined about you as soon as you were born, usually even before your birth and often before your health. Your gender was the first thing people asked about you as a baby. It permeates every aspect of your life from the clothes you buy to the recreation you enjoy. If you’ve been arguing that trans people are wrong about their gender, it’s time to ask yourself why. Why do you feel you know more about their gender than they do? They know what genitals they have and are probably far more appalled* by them than you are. Isn’t it better to trust them to know such an integral part of their life better than you?

Sometimes when people disagree with being transgender, they bring up irrelevant arguments. Quite frankly, someone thinking they’re a dog is as relevant to an argument about trans people as someone wanting to marry their toaster is to an argument about equal marriage (whether it’s same sex or interracial). Someone thinking they’re black as an argument is a little more relevant since it happened recently. Rachel Dolezal splashed into the media this spring as a white woman who claimed to be black so incessantly that she got appointed the president of NAACP. As usual, the reality was complicated. She didn’t come up with this notion out of nowhere, she has black siblings and came from an abusive family. Rachel isn’t black, she’s a woman struggling through the aftermath of abuse who identifies with the people who supported her in early childhood. Colour really is skin deep. You can’t do a brain scan and determine whether someone’s black or white. Race is based on where our ancestors lived, a melanin umbrella for sun protection. The closer the equator… the darker the skin. Gender, however, can be recognized through brain scans.

I am a cisgender (or cis) woman. To put it simply, when I was born the doctor looked at me and said, “It’s a girl!” and I am one. Meanwhile the doctor told me that Jeremy was a boy and zie’s not. Cisgender is not an insult unless it’s been shortened to something like ‘cis scum’ and, in that case… seriously? What the hell did you do?

Don’t tell me, I don’t actually want to know.

It’s not a label you can refuse either (unless you’re trans). You can’t claim to dislike this one label when you’ve accepted every single other one. Claiming it’s an “invented word” doesn’t fly either. Is the rest of our language organic and free range? Were the other words all carefully hand picked off the etymology tree? This is a label that will turn up so rarely in your life that you don’t really have to worry about it. Even if you hang out with a bunch of trans people you’re far more likely to talk about phone cases, chocolate, and that amazing new Thai restaurant that just opened up down the street. Although honestly I’m more partial to the Chinese restaurant two blocks over (their homestyle bean curd is so yummy!).

My friends agree that dysphoria is the hardest part of being trans but there’s another difficult part… a whole bunch of misguided comments and cringe worthy questions. I’ve asked a few friends what comments or questions they get, but first I’m going to share a video made by trans activists:

As you can tell by the video, our society has a weird obsession with trans people’s genitals. My biggest tip is just don’t. When was the last time you asked someone if they were circumcised or if they shaved “down there” or you pondered the size of their labia? I’m really hoping the answer to all of the above is never. Give trans people the same respect. Plus let’s stop with the “chopped off his penis” comments. A trans woman’s penis is not cut off (presuming she chose to have surgery in the first place). The penis is very neatly divided and looped around to form a vagina, labia, and a (usually) functioning clitoris. This is done by a well trained surgeon and team, not the trans woman and a pair of scissors.

Alongside rampant discussions and questions about genitals comes a whole other debate. Bathrooms.

Cue the sound of trans people hitting their heads on the keyboard.

For most people, public washrooms are an irritation. Will there be toilet paper? Will the paper sit neat and clean in the dispenser instead of strewn across a waterlogged floor? Will it smell like a circus outhouse on a hot day or an artificial version of roses. Trans people get all that plus the added concern of being yelled at or beaten up and, in some cases, having security or the police called. Simply because they wanted to pee.

There’s a concern that some cis people have that men are going to sneak into the ladies room in drag, pretending to be trans, and rape someone. Won’t someone think of the children?!? This ignores the fact that a) that same man is going to have to walk through the store in drag, which is hardly inconspicuous (I’ve seen people literally turn in place to continue staring at Jeremy when we’re out) and b) there are trans children who need just as much protection as their cis friends and siblings. These fears also conveniently ignore a huge swatch of trans people, namely trans men. If people were forced to go into the washroom of their assigned gender, that means trans men would have to go into the women’s room…

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Yep, he wouldn’t be conspicuous at all

When people argue against trans people using their correct washroom, they forget about men like Michael Hughes. How exactly are you supposed to tell if he’s trans when he’s in the washroom? If a woman is scared of having a man in the washroom with her, I’d think she’d be more upset about a muscular bearded man than a woman who’s in there to pee and (possibly) check her lipstick. For that matter, how are people supposed to tell in general? Are we all to drop our drawers before we enter? Are they going by gender stereotypes? There’s already at least one cis woman suing in the States for being harassed and escorted out of the ladies room for not looking feminine enough.

Plus these arguments ignore one crucial fact. There has not been one single case of a trans person attacking or harassing a cis person in the washroom. Not one. The closest I could find was a case where a couple of young teens claimed to be exposed to a trans woman’s penis while changing for a team event. Not attacked, simply exposed. Plus it turned out that the two girls snuck into a member’s only section of the gym, an area they were clearly told was out of bounds, and then proceeded to open up a closed and private sauna room door where the trans woman and her friend happened to be sitting. Conversely, I wouldn’t have the space or time to write down all the times trans people have been harassed in the washroom from this year alone. It’s not unknown for trans people to suffer with bladder problems stemming from holding their urine for hours instead of using a public toilet. They’d rather suffer from bladder problems instead of being attacked (again). But they’d really rather be safe.

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So not a risk to anyone in the women’s room. Very much at risk in the men’s room.

There’s another act of violence against trans people, misgendering. This occurs when people refuse to use a trans person’s pronouns, instead using the pronouns the person was assigned at birth. Jeremy is continuously misgendered. Akin to misgendering is the act of using someone’s birth name, also known as their dead name in the trans community. Both can cause a great deal of emotional distress to a trans person, as well as disrespecting the right to their own identity. At least 22 people have been killed this year because they were transgender women. I say at least because some end up being dead named and identified as male. Their names were read at our Transgender Day of Remembrance service this year and an appalling number were identified by the phrase “unknown woman”. Outing someone is an act of violence. Telling people your female friend “used to be male” puts her at risk of being beaten up or murdered. Telling people your male friend “used to be female” puts him at risk of being beaten up or raped. If you have a trans friend that’s great. Don’t betray their trust by outing them so you can appear cool or trendy. Don’t betray their trust because you’re struggling with accepting your new information about their gender. Introduce them with their pronouns and chosen name then move on.

We are all human. We all have hopes, dreams, hobbies, and a burning need to know why Facebook keeps switching to “top profile” (the last one might be just me). Don’t let a label get between you and another person.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below and I’ll do my best to answer them honestly (and possibly by frantically messaging my friends). This blog is unapologetically a safe place. Any transphobic or homophobic comments are deleted and the person is blocked from commenting. I’ll make allowances for honest ignorance.

* Most, but not all trans people, deal with some degree of gender dysphoria. Some, like my teen Jeremy, are perfectly happy with their body including their genitals. One of my friends refers to her genitals as “that thing” or “the abomination”. Another friend of mine had to hide sharp objects for fear her daughter might try to cut off her own penis as a preschooler. Many of my friends have posted pictures which show a man and woman on opposite sides of a mirror, while saying that’s exactly how they feel. They feel themselves completely as one gender and it’s continually jarring to have everyone else see and refer to them as a different gender entirely.

Missing my rainbow…

I can’t remember the last time I heard Jeremy proclaim, “… because I’m fab-u-lous!”

I can’t remember the last time zie desperately needed a decoration for zir room just because it sparkled.

I can’t remember the last time zie skipped with happiness or gestured, zir hands flying like birds.

It was just over a year ago that zie stopped shaving zir legs and armpits.

“I forgot,” zie told me with a shrug. “I don’t feel like it,” zie said months later. I didn’t want to push. It’s zir body.

It was just under a year ago that the final flakes of toe polish faded away. Zie panicked when I offered to replace it.

I questioned zir about the perfume yesterday. “I ran out,” Jeremy said offhandedly. Zie never mentioned it or asked for a replacement.

Last year zie loved to watch home improvement shows. Last year zie wanted a purple chandelier with crystals and a red sequin pillow and talked about when zir room was painted purple. This year Jeremy begs me to buy a computer part or video game instead of paint.

“I don’t need my room fixed up,” zie assures me. “I don’t care if my room’s painted.”

The teen who perched on the edge of our couch yelling at the people on t.v because they had to pick the house with granite countertops now furnishes zir room with other people’s leftovers; telling me a chair with no back is perfectly fine.

Jeremy walked into my room and lay on my bed, curled on zir side.

“Mom? Do you need anything at Metro?” Zir voice was almost low enough to be a whisper but too monotone.

I looked outside at the dark sky. I work tomorrow and am already in my pyjamas. My plans involve sprawling on top of my covers and reading before turning my lights out by 9:30pm. No, I didn’t need anything from the grocery store at that point.

“No, sunshine,” I told zir, as gently as I could manage. “We have food here.”

“But nothing I want,” zie replied petulantly.

“You could fry up some Gardein crispy chicken,” I pointed out.

Zie sat up and blurted, “But I don’t want that.” Zir voice crept closer to panicked.

There’s one comfort food Jeremy still consistently enjoys. “How about popcorn?” I asked and was relieved when zie relaxed. Jeremy panicked moments later when zie couldn’t find part of the popcorn machine. Luckily I found it fairly quickly.

I’m not writing as much about Jeremy this year. How many times can I blog about zir hiding in zir room watching videos? How many times can I blog about zir crying and saying zie doesn’t know why? How many times can I say zie didn’t sleep again last night?

Three more weeks until we see our family doctor. Three more weeks until I can ask for a referral to a psychiatrist. The EffexorXR isn’t helping zir nearly as much as it’s helping me.

I miss my rainbow. I want the sparkle back in my world. I want Jeremy to feel fabulous again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Too sweet for words… even before the gummy bear earrings.

Engage tact before opening mouth…

I was sitting in the break room with a new coworker a few days ago, doing the whole awkward introduction thing, when I realized it was time to call Jeremy.

I usually call zir at lunchtime so I can make sure zie’s awake and functioning. Plus the call allows me to remind zir to eat, something I’ve never forgotten to do but zie manages to forget regularly.

“I was talking to my teen,” I explained as I got off the phone a couple of minutes later.

“Oh, you have kids?” she replied curiously.

It seemed like an obvious answer to me but I nodded anyway. “I’ve got a 20 year old daughter and 18 year old teen. I was talking to the 18 year old.”

Most people change the conversation there. She didn’t.

“So, your 18 year old… is it a boy or a girl?”

It? Great.

“Zie’s bi-gender,” I replied. “Zie’s trans , identifies as both male and female, and uses the pronouns zie and zir.”

Her eyes grew wider. “Oh! Both genders! Does your doctor know?”

The doctor part made me suspicious about the direction her thoughts were going but I played innocent. “Yes, we talked to him already.”

“So, umm, your child is, umm, medically male and female?”

Yep, her thoughts wandered exactly where I suspected and right where I didn’t want to go.

“No, you’re thinking of intersex. My teen is transgender,” I replied as I glanced at my phone. Damn, I still had some break left.

“Oh.” She fidgeted for a moment. “So is he, umm, a boy or a girl.”

“I’m not discussing my child’s genitals with you,” I said bluntly. I’d already given her pronouns to use and a label so she wasn’t asking for those reasons. That left only one tabloidish interest… what was in zir pants.

She looked startled for a second then the realization of what she was asking kicked in.

“I’m cool with stuff like that,” she babbled. “I knew a transgender in high school.” Cue me wincing. “He was really shy at the beginning but after a while he started wearing make up and dresses and stuff.”

“I think you mean she,” I interjected, glancing at my phone again. Usually my break finishes way too quickly. Today wasn’t one of those days. Had my timer broken?

“Oh yeah,” she said sheepishly as my timer chimed cheerfully. Finally. I couldn’t leave quickly enough.

I told Jeremy about the conversation later and zie grinned when I got to the part about refusing to disclose zir birth gender.

“Way to go!” zie exclaimed before changing the conversation to Cool Dude. I’m not entirely sure who he is, other than someone on YouTube, but Jeremy’s very impressed with him.

“Cool Dude’s gay,” zie informed me for about the twentieth time. Jeremy paused then laughed. “I don’t know why he bothered to come out. Some people you just know are gay. I’m sure you’ve met people like that before,” zie said as zie gestured flamboyantly.

I looked at zir and laughed. “Really Captain Obvious?”

“Are you calling me gay?” zie asked.

“No, I’m calling the other Jeremy gay,” I retorted.

Zie smiled. Some days zie insists zie’s straight. Sometimes zie simply insists zie’s not gay. The rest of the time zie refers to the gay community as zir community. I just take a few metaphorical Gravol and go along for the ride.

Jeremy’s smile faded. “You know what I disliked about school,” zie said abruptly. Talk about a loaded question. Especially since zie could (and does) go on for hours about the subject.

“What?” I asked cautiously.

“Every Hallowe’en all the teachers dressed up in Duck Dynasty costumes, even after they came out as homophobic. It made me so uncomfortable.”

“All of the teachers?” It was a fairly big school.

“Well not all of them but Mrs. ________ and Mrs. ________ both did.” Jeremy named both of zir educational assistants. The same ones who told Jeremy that zir gender was a choice.

I’d had no idea about the costumes. Zie’d never said anything. Of course even if zie had said something there wasn’t anything I could do about it. It wasn’t illegal to dress up as a television character. But you’d think at least one of the teachers would look at what those people were saying and think about how their students would feel about their choice. You’d think they’d think. That’s what school’s for, isn’t it?

I’ve got a kid who’s struggling with anxiety daily. It’s not even 9pm and zie’s already in bed, saying zie’s upset and doesn’t know why. We live in a complex with two pools (complete with life guards), a park with paved trails just perfect for zir to drive zir remote control cars, and a gym. Jeremy spends every day indoors waiting for me to come home. Zie could go out on zir own but would rather wait for me. Zie doesn’t feel comfortable going out alone.

Jeremy’s teacher and EAs were loudly insistent they were allies, even while misgendering Jeremy, and I know my coworker felt like she was being quite supportive too. It would be nice however if they spent a bit less time patting themselves on the back and a bit more time listening to what they’re saying. It would be even nicer if tact came in a spray bottle, like air freshener, and could be applied liberally to people when needed. I’d buy it in bulk.

 

There’s no place like home…

Update I moved the chipmunk video over to YouTube and it’s working now 🙂

We got home on Sunday afternoon and I’m still happily appreciating all the comforts of home. I love camping but truly enjoy spider free indoor plumbing… especially at 3am.

This trip involved a fair bit of uncertainty for me. We’ve camped on the same site at the same campground for years and I knew exactly what to expect there. I’d have camped there again except for one thing. The price. Fifty dollars a night is a bit steep for a vacation that involves heating my dish water over a kerosene stove and peeing with spiders.

Jeremy promised that Unicamp was really nice and that the swimming pond was huge. As big as one football field or two… or maybe even three. Got to love how specific zie is when it comes to measurements. Zie even took a picture of a small stretch of woods with a dirt path. Which let me know there were at least a few trees but otherwise I was flying blind. The website itself has no pictures except for an aerial view of the campground via Google and Jeremy was even less descriptive. What convinced me to register for a site there was the fact it’s half the price of our usual place so we could camp for twice as long.

campsite 40

I was unimpressed with the site when we arrived. Not only was it fairly open (and right beside the basketball court, hence the basketball in the photo) but it also had an outhouse right in the middle of the site. And, thanks to the location of the firepit, we’d need to position the trailer so the indoor kitchen table had a lovely view of the outhouse.

The first option we were offered was an alternate site that used to be a laneway. It still had the tire grooves. Then they offered to move the firepit, which made all the difference. The trailer tire is over the old firepit. For most of the week there were almost no other campers because it was youth week so the outhouse was only being used by me (and the spiders). It wasn’t until our last evening that other people started using it. Which was uncomfortable enough for me to not want to camp on that particular site again but by then we had less than 24 hours left until we were gone.

Jeremy talked about swimming all week so it wasn’t a surprise that zie wanted to go swimming almost as soon as my parents left. Luckily zie was willing to wait until after dinner as we missed lunch during our drive up; my parents weren’t stopping for anything. And luckily for me I’d planned a quick and easy dinner because zie wasn’t going to wait too long.

Jeremy had only been there for a weekend last year but zie was reasonably sure zie remembered the way to the beach. First we headed out past the goats…

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Doesn’t every campground have goats?

… and down the trail to the beaches.

bench on beach trail

The trail looked like most of the campground. Lots of trees and undergrowth and quite a few meandering creeks. Further along there was a marshy area with lots of cat tails and frogs. Then came the main beach.

Jeremy at the main beach

Both beaches were sandy and had a dock and a picnic table. Plus there were beach toys, life jackets, and canoes free to use. Jeremy (of course) refused to swim in any normal fashion. Instead zie took pool noodles and threaded them through zir shopping buggy and swam with that. It looked completely awkward but zie loved it.

Jeremy and zir shopping buggy

I enjoyed the beach as well. We’d swim from one diving platform to another, with me diving in from each. Plus there was a big concrete block at the end of the pond. As far as I could tell, it worked as a drain, pouring water over the edge then under the nearby road to flow into a creek. But it served a second purpose… as a jumping platform. Jeremy refused to try it but I went up several times.

Michelle jumping

The water was freezing at the bottom of the pond!

We went on several walks, mostly to the nearby Cowpye Hill (accurately named) to look at the full moon. Poor Jeremy got dragged onto a hike on the Bruce Trail despite insisting that zie’s a computer nerd and doesn’t need exercise. It was a great trail, absolutely gorgeous, but it came with a warning that it was “more advanced”. I loved it. Jeremy sat and took a break on the trail while I explored the surrounding area.

The trail pretty much consisted of scrambling over rocks and roots.

The trail pretty much consisted of scrambling over rocks and roots. Also, yes, Jeremy is a foot taller than me.

Since our hike went so well, I decided to try out splelunking. To be fair, Jeremy wanted to try it as well. I think zie didn’t realize how small the caves were. I certainly didn’t. I pictured caves we could walk into and then got faced with this…

No, it wasn't any bigger on the inside. In fact it got appreciably smaller.

No, it wasn’t any bigger on the inside. In fact it got appreciably smaller.

This is me leaving that same “cave”. Jeremy couldn’t even fit. Zie did try however and went into every other cave.

me leaving Sherbet Tunnel

Jeremy and I splelunking

There were plenty of things I liked about the campground. It was quiet, friendly, and informal. There were trails everywhere for me to explore and signs dotted throughout the grounds…

signs

I found five signs and am sure there are more.

What I loved the most about our camping trip was that no one, not a single person, stared at Jeremy. In fact the only people who gave zir even a slightly long look were the ones who followed it up with a huge smile and a “Hello Jeremy! I remember you from last year!”

Jeremy claims not to notice people staring at zir (even the hugely blatant ones) but it was obvious that zie felt the lack of negative attention. Zie never goes outside without a shirt on. Never. Not even on our own balcony. And swimming is something that requires zir swimming shirt (an almost too small mesh Spiderman shirt zie’s had for years). By the end of the week zie was going swimming without zir shirt, in front of other people.

And now we’re home. Back to our kitties, our microwave, our running water, and our consistently working internet and phone service. I can’t wait to see how much Jeremy grows when we go back to Unicamp next year.

OMG muffin wrapper

Clicking on the picture will bring you to the accompanying video.

No more pencils… no more books…

 

“Hello? Mrs Green? This is [vice principal]. Jeremy’s on his way home from school now. He was arguing with the teacher over lessons. He wanted to copy files from the school computer to his little zip drive instead.”

I glanced over at the clock. Jeremy had left barely an hour earlier, cheerful and eager. Which was a welcome change although apparently short lived. This was on Friday the 19th and only three more days were left until the end of school. Speaking of which…

“I should let you know, Jeremy has an appointment on Monday so zie won’t be at school that day plus zie has counselling on Tuesday. Zie’ll be back on Wednesday though.”

I waited for the obligatory giggle and “oops, I meant zie” which has followed ever since I had a school administrator come in to discuss the board’s transgender policy last September. It didn’t come. I guess the principal figured she doesn’t need to bother anymore now that zie was almost done school. As if correctly gendering someone only matters when board policy forces it (and when another adult can hear).

“If he wants to come in for an hour on Wednesday to copy his files he can. Over lunchtime.”

Heaven forbid my child inconvenience them by trying to attend zir entire last day of school with the rest of zir classmates.

Then I called Jeremy and listened incredulously. I try my hardest to support zir teachers and strongly feel spelling is important. On the other hand, they know how much Jeremy dislikes the subject. Zie’d missed almost a week of school due to anxiety, which they knew because I called zir in sick with anxiety and panic attacks every day. Plus they only have spelling tests on Fridays so there wasn’t going to be another spelling test ever for zir. So what did the teacher choose to do first that day? Sit Jeremy down with a list of words to memorize. Something that gives zir anxiety on the best of days. Jeremy asked why zie needed to study for a test zie’d never take and was immediately told to go home.

“Other students get sent home for throwing chairs. I get sent home for asking a question.”

Jeremy flipped through mood swings all Tuesday to the point where I wondered if it was possible for zir to have PMS. Zie’d be laughing one minute then start yelling at me, only to burst into tears two minutes later. Then zie’d be laughing again. And zie waffled about school, deciding zie would go only to change zir mind a short while later. It wasn’t until I was crawling into bed that zie made zir final decision.

“I’m not going to school tomorrow,” zie announced in a voice thick with tears. “M already has my number so if he wants to call me he can. Except he doesn’t even know his own number…”

Jeremy’s best friend P moved last year and hasn’t contacted zir once since then. Jeremy can’t call him because his number changed with the move. M is the only local friend zie has currently and they have no contact outside school. Meanwhile zie’d already downloaded zir files from the school’s cloud, all that was left there was a plastic storage container. I can live without that.

“Okay,” I said reassuringly. “I’ll call the school and bus company on my way to work.”

Which I did, making the bus dispatcher laugh when I announced it was my last time calling in. I simply left a message in the school’s voice mail. And now zie’s done, leaving me feeling unsettled… unfinished.

No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks…

Jeremy was so eager to start school… so eager to learn. And zie still is. Zie loves math, loves learning about electronics and computers. Zie’s fascinated with politics and current events. I spent Jeremy’s entire time at high school arguing for zir to take electronics, computers, politics, auto mechanics, a work-ed program to do with electronics or computers. I got shot down every single time. I fought for zir to have testing for learning disabilities and got told “next year” every single year. I asked repeatedly for zir to have a school laptop due to language difficulties and fine motor skill issues and got turned down. The only success I managed was getting them to use the right pronouns and that only happened on paper or when they were prompted. Zir entire high school career was remarkably similar to banging my head against a wall, except it was less fun. And now it’s over. Kind of.

Jeremy cried two nights ago that zie was an adult and had no education.

“No education yet,” I pointed out. “That doesn’t mean no education ever. You’re just starting.”

The principal didn’t ask about zir appointment on Monday. She was just glad zie wasn’t going to be at school. If she’d asked, she’d have found out zie’s getting psychometric testing. And once zir anxiety’s a bit more under control, zir real education will begin.