Cisgender…

When I was little I thought that words were carefully thought up and voted on by a group of old white men, all seated along a table. They’d weigh each word ponderously before voting. Then we could finally use it. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised our language evolves, taking words from other languages and sometimes creating words as needed.

As gay people became more positively talked about, a new word evolved to explain people who aren’t gay. Straight. People have no noticeable problem with being called this. Then transgender people became more positively talked about and a new word evolved to explain people who aren’t trans. That word is “cisgender”, using the Latin prefix meaning “on this side of”. And people lost their freaking minds.

For some reason people seem to think cisgender is an insult, some nasty slur being tossed at them, instead of a simple description. The same people who have no problem being called white, straight, their nationality, their religion, male/female etc suddenly don’t want or like labels when it comes to cisgender. Hell, someone named Olivia even wrote a “poem” about her hatred of the word.

Cisgender.
This is your term for me.
Your stereotype, your aggression
When you have been called it all
Fag queer whatever.

Well now i speak

I am not gay.
I am not bi.
I am not a man.
Or unsure.
I am not your words.
I am not “cisgender”.

I am a woman.
I love a man.
But that doesnt matter.
Because my name is Olivia.

~blogged by aliceoblivious~

I’ve come up with two theories for why so many people dislike the word so much. The first theory is that, unlike straight, which has positive connotations (such as straight as an arrow), cis sounds too similar to sissy, leading people to think of “crybabies” or “whiners”, even if it’s more unconscious than conscious.

The second theory is that some people dislike transgender people so much, they don’t want a word labelling them that has anything to do with trans people, even if it does mean the exact opposite.

Or maybe it’s a mixture of the two.

Whatever the reason, the word cisgender is not a slur. The only time it becomes a slur is when it’s transformed to cishit and, in that case, I don’t want to know what you said, and chances are you probably deserved it.

But cisgender is fine.

It’s all you…

Someone close to us recently said that I’m forcing Colin to be trans. That it’s all my idea and he’s just going along with it. First, I don’t think the person realised how much that hurt Emma. Second, how does that even work?

Does he think I went up to Emma one day and said, “You’re a girl” and Emma simply went along with it? This kid might as well have her picture beside stubborn in the dictionary. She doesn’t roll over and accept anything. She’s also the sort of person who, if you say the sky is blue, will not only check but might just argue that how do we really know it’s blue. It could be purple and we’re simply mislabelling it. She doesn’t simply take anything as fact.

How the conversation is expected to go by transphobes:

Me: You’re really a girl
Emma: Well you’re my Mom, you know best
*pulls on dress*

How it would go in reality:

Me: You’re really a girl
Emma: Have you lost your *bleeping* mind?
*goes back to video game*

Maybe he was thinking of something more subtle? Did he think I put subliminal message tapes under her pillow at night? A crooning whisper of “you’re a girl… you’re a girl…” Or maybe hypnosis. Although, quite frankly, if hypnosis worked I’d be running a mantra of “clean your room… put away your running shoes… dishes go in the sink…”. Gender would be at the bottom of the list.

Or possibly mind controlling drugs.

*checks cupboard*
*finds no name acetaminophen*

I mean theoretically it’s mind controlling. It controls your mind into thinking you don’t hurt. But somehow I doubt it could control someone into changing genders. Let alone hold her down and force her to wear women’s shirts.

In reality the truth is simple. Emma questioned her gender for a few years and finally realised she’s a trans female. I simply came along for the ride and to support her. Hopefully this person will realise it soon and support her too.

Bits and pieces of our lives…

Today is a nasty day. The sky’s grey and rain seems to be drooling from the sky in an annoying drizzle. We were going to PFLAG tonight but I’m anxious and Emma doesn’t want to go back out into the rain so we’re staying home. Just us and the internet and Emma’s super spicy soup.

It’s a great day for Kait* however. She’s booked the weekend off work and is at Anime North with her boyfriend, a tradition for them. It’s Emma** who’s into anime but, while Kait doesn’t know who the characters are, she loves the costumes regardless. She looks forward to this trip every year.

It was a great day for Emma too. She finally got to meet her new family doctor for the first time. He’s going to talk to her more at her next appointment in July but told her he’s planning on starting her on testosterone blockers before estrogen. And he made it seem like it would be soon.

I didn’t go to the appointment. Emma told me she wanted to go on her own to show the doctor this is her decision and no one else’s, which I thought was very mature of her. She has social anxiety and it wasn’t that long ago that she’d have me do all the talking for her. I’m so glad she’s able to speak for herself. She’s always had strong opinions, now she can use her own voice to share them.

We’ve both heard horror stories over the past few months. Emma was going to need intensive counselling first. She’d need to get yet another doctor. It was going to take years and years for the hormones to start, two and a half at the very least. She could very well get denied… lots of people are. None of the people who told us these stories were trans and all admitted they had no concrete information but that didn’t stop them from sharing. We’re both so glad to hear from Emma’s new doctor that this isn’t the case.

As for me, I spent the day writing and washing dishes so my day’s been quiet and, now that I know I’m not going to hang out in a crowd, my anxiety’s dropped dramatically. My busier day was on Tuesday when I went out to a nature preserve with a friend. All this rain had an effect on the trails but we still got to see chipmunks, a blue jay, and redwing blackbirds. We’re going back next week too, or maybe to somewhere higher and drier.

DSC04247

Now we just need to wait until after our camping trip in July for Emma’s next appointment.

*Kait is Emma’s real name
**Emma is Julie/Jeremy’s real name

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

The things I never knew before Julie…

When I read about trans people, I read the same narrative. The trans person knew since they were a young child and were insistent and persistent (unless it was unsafe for them to do so). But nothing is one size fits all and that includes gender.

  1. I never knew people often come out as gay or bisexual before coming out as trans. Julie, then Jeremy, came out as bisexual (and later retracted it) months before coming out as bi-gender and I’ve read story after similar story since then.
  2. I never knew people’s gender shifted. Gender is complicated, a lot more than I ever knew, and it’s not uncommon for someone to come out as various genders before settling on one (or staying gender fluid). Julie told me long before she came out as trans that she was just like Jazz Jennings except she had a female brain and a male body. Then she came out as bi-gender and wandered around the non-binary spectrum before settling on female. I know several people who wandered the same way and one who started out binary and moved to non-binary. To be fair, if asked, I couldn’t put into words why I’m female either, except that I feel like it. It’s difficult to pin down.
  3. I never knew there’s a correlation between being trans and being autistic. Studies show you’re statistically more likely to be trans if you have autism. The same studies do not know why. Julie was diagnosed by a psychologist when she was eight years old as having high functioning autism.
  4. I’ve always been a proponent of “stereotypes don’t matter” but didn’t think about how much until Julie came out. Stereotypes are just that. Liking cars and computers doesn’t make someone male any more than liking flowers and dresses makes someone female. Julie’s love of computers is simply a sign that she loves technology, it’s not a sign of her gender. I have a male cis friend whose heart flutters over lace parasols. It’s not a sign of his gender either.
  5. People can know they’re trans at a young age but that’s not the only narrative. People often don’t figure it out until their teens or even later. Julie was 17 before she realized she wasn’t cisgender and I’ve known people who didn’t sort this out until they were in their 20’s or 30’s.
  6. An awful lot of people like to brag about going by basic biology when it comes to gender. Personally I’d rather go by advanced. Basic isn’t my style.
  7. Being trans isn’t any different than a medical condition (well except that it’s gender and not medical). They might need surgery at some point but it’s nobody’s business and certainly not the starting point of an introduction. And then there’s the whole whack of doctor’s appointments and terminology.

If you have something you’ve learned on the journey, please feel free to write it in the comments below.

The sky is falling?

I am not afraid of the trans woman making small talk with me in the elevator. I am afraid of the person yelling that the sky is falling while claiming it’s the trans women’s fault, using poor Chicken Little and his acorn as a prop in his tale. A misdirection.

Trans women are being used in a game of shells.

Look here, the politicians say, see the danger! As the other shells swirl and hide. Look! A trans woman is in the bathroom!

I look and see her minding her own business. The politicians continue to bleat danger and wave their hands.

What are they hiding?

In the States, poor children lose their breakfasts, seniors their lunches, and families their health care… while the President golfs every weekend and lets the country pay the cost so his wife can live in gilded splendour.

Meanwhile an orange bus putts along the country, ignoring biology and bleating “peaceful” hatred. It’s freeze peach, they say. Trans people are the liars, they say. But they aren’t, so who’s the one who’s lying?

And the shells continue to spin and the sky stays firmly in place. And trans women continue to die from carefully targeted hatred.

And Chicken Little shows off his acorn as proof and the ignorant listen.

The first step…

Julie, formerly known as Jeremy, wants desperately to transition. Only one thing has been stopping her. Neither one of us knew where to start. The information must have been on one of the missing pages of my parenting books. So I asked someone in Julie’s youth group who transitioned recently and got told he went to the doctor and got referred to an endocrinologist. Yay! That sounded easy.

I booked an appointment with our family doctor and Jeremy proceeded to ask me every day for two weeks if it was almost time for her appointment. It finally came yesterday. So we headed over to our family doctor, who we’ve been seeing since before Julie was born.

To say the doctor was discouraging would be one of the bigger understatements of the year.

“Hadn’t Jeremy been transgender before? And now he’d changed and wanted to be a woman? Why wasn’t he still transgender?”

“The only place Jeremy could go was CAM-H (Canadian Association for Mental Health) and they were only just accepting people who were referred in 2015. It was going to take ages.”

“He’d only had two patients transition before in his 33 years of practise but he had several others who CAM-H had turned down. They turn down a fair number of people, he’d be surprised if they accepted Jeremy.”

“One of the people who transitioned had to stop taking her medication after years because it was so expensive.”

“It was going to be unbelievably hard. Just look at what Bruce Jenner went through and he was…”

I have no idea what he was going to say Caitlyn Jenner was. Famous? Infamous? Rich? An athlete? And all those statements were peppered with “I’m not prejudiced but…”

I listened with one ear while I Googled numbers for endocrinologists. “It wasn’t common,” the doctor explained. “I doubt there’s anyone around here.”

I had a message out for the person I’d talked to and started cold calling. The doctor was right, there wasn’t anyone. The nearest, outside of CAM-H, was in Hamilton; a two hour car ride away and I don’t know how long by bus.

His secretary called back that evening to say she’d found someone in Peterborough, which was closer but still somewhere around an hour or two by bus.

Julie slumped in her room and made stuff on Minecraft while I chatted with a friend of mine who asked me if I’d heard of Carea. They did gender care right from Oshawa. The only catch was Julie would need to have her primary doctor with them. Okay. That was easy enough.

Julie started school this week so we waited until after school before heading over to Carea. One bus! It took us just one bus to get there. And their paperwork asked for her preferred name, sex, and gender. It was nice to see that smile on Julie’s face.

The intake interview isn’t for two more weeks and then there’s another two weeks until a doctor is assigned to her but it’s so nice to have the first step taken.