What is trans…

Sleepy Colin posing filteredI woke up this morning to a call from my daughter Kait and, while we were chatting, Colin woke up and sleepily leaned against my door frame.

I loved the way he looked and managed to get a shot of him, which was nice because he’s usually not fond of having his picture taken. I guess the promise that he just had to stand there and do nothing was a bonus.

Kait and I commented he’d look so much prettier if he shaved his face and he immediately went to the washroom to do just that. I’d love to have a shaved version of the photo but he was too awake by the time he finished shaving. The picture still looks good though. Trans is beautiful.

Colin and I had a little talk yesterday after he said he wasn’t trans, which would definitely be a surprise. Obviously nothing would change either way but it’s nice to know if something that integral to his identity was still a thing. It turned out he thought you were only trans if you were actively transitioning but he still was female. I explained that if he still was female and was born with a penis, he was trans whether he was transitioning or not. It was the feeling female and being perceived as male that made him trans, not the act of taking hormones or having surgery. That sense of disassociation when he sees himself in the mirror… that sense of joy when he’s seen as a woman. As he subsequently explained to me, he feels female but is upset he’s never going to transition.

Colin’s getting tested for ADHD this month and, hopefully he’ll get put on a medication that will help him keep his scatterbrain in check. This is something he’s looking forward to. It’s not just missing part of the definition of transgender, it’s keeping track of his teacher’s lectures and remembering the information long enough to finish homework and write tests. It’s hard to be in school and miss half of what the teacher’s saying, even when he’s concentrating.

As usual, gender is not the forefront of our lives. Colin is much more interested in anime and computers. And now is time to combine both. We’re going to watch an anime called Planetarium on the computer he just rebuilt. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Advertisements

The great pretender…

We were walking into our apartment and Colin, as usual, was chattering away about misogyny and misandry. I was paying more attention to getting our wagon of groceries past the front hall table than what he was saying, mainly because this is a regular topic on his part and I’ve pretty much heard everything. Plus it’s tricky getting the wagon around the table. Then, suddenly, he announced “and it goes double for my gender”.

“Which gender?” I asked since it wasn’t obvious by the conversation. “Male or female?”

“Male!” he yelled. “I’ve already told you this so many times!”

“And you’ve told me you’re female so many times before too,” I replied.

And, with that, he quieted down. “I can’t say that I’m female anymore,” he replied sadly. “It hurts me too much. I need to pretend to be male.”

I have so many emotions about this. Part of it’s sadness because he obviously wants to transition almost as much as he wants kids. Part of it’s anger because he’s been told, repeatedly, by fellow trans people that he can stop hormones for a few months and get his sperm back for conception.

I’m angry at the medical profession for being, once again, so far behind trans people on medical knowledge. They should be researching this information and, as far as I can tell, they aren’t.

I’m angry at Colin because he’s putting a non-existent child ahead of his own wellbeing. Maybe, someday, there’ll be a child but conception’s going to be damn tricky when he’s living in his bedroom 99% of the time. No one’s going to jump out of YouTube and invite him on a date.

And I’m sad because he’s so obviously not happy and not doing well mentally but keeps plugging away on the same route, getting more and more unhappy. But he’s a grown adult now and has to make his own decisions. Hopefully one day soon he’ll decide to put his own wellbeing first. Hopefully someday it’ll be his time to shine.

born to be awesome

 

All about Colin (by Colin)

One of my earliest memories was hanging out under the bridge at my old place. It was so dirty. It was a swamp. If I wasn’t careful enough my feet would go right into the soil. One of my favourite memories was that I stole my Mom’s laptop when she was at work and my friend and I stayed in this elevator for about two hours, nice and air conditioned elevator. And we just sat there on the elevator and it was fabulous. We were just playing this one game, I think it was Facade, the game where you go into this house. You’re celebrating the fact these people got married and you had to try to keep them together. It was this most challenging game and it took over YouTube longer than most games. The only game that took over longer, I think, is FNAF (Five Nights At Freddys).

I did not have a nice time going to high school. My first high school wasn’t as bad as my second. I got into arguments about doing math. A sneak preview for the second one is the second high school would change what they were doing in the day just to bug me. Manipulate the other students to not like me. Bring me to the office for barely any reason. Refuse to let me do the classes I wanted to do. They didn’t let me do any work placement stuff. Caused one of my friends to move because of the stress their parents were going under.

Now let’s get back to my first high school. They did stuff bad like I wanted to do more school work. They started handing out more then they told everyone in the class that it was my fault because I kept asking for more school work. But I got the last laugh because I pointed out that I could do the work while everyone else had free time. For the most part, if we stayed there it probably would have gotten better. But, because we moved, oh boy does it get bad.

The second school, they did stuff like, I’d bike to school and they didn’t know I was coming in because I was 10 minutes late so I’d come into class and they’d have math on the board and I’d say “Great, we’re doing math?” and they’d be like, “No, we’re doing something else, we’re doing science.” They’d say we’re doing this for you but it was always weird because they were doing it instead of math. Days that I was not at school because I had a dentist appointment, a doctor’s appointment, I had to stop the universe from imploding again, they’d always have math. They’d always talk about how they had math the day before. I asked in the third year if they were moving math and removing it if I was there or not. You’ll never guess what they said, they said they’re not. And, if you don’t understand why I thought they were, just go to the beginning and re-read again. It’s blatantly obvious. Then one day I did go into class quite upset but all I did was keep asking to do math and they sent me to the office who sent me home, in the middle of winter, and I’d forgot my jacket.

They’d do other stuff like manipulate the class to get the kids to fall into line. They make sure kids follow exactly what they say or they’d punish them, for no reason, by sending them to the office and sending them home. They’d hold back school work. There was one kid, I remember who was going home every day walking. Eventually he stopped going home early. I asked him why and it was because of the teacher. Has anyone heard of the flexing kids of snapchat? They basically just flex their money and tell people “I can afford this and you can’t”. That’s basically what my teachers would do when we got back to school every Monday. They would talk about how their trailer was amazing and how they got like a golf cart and their 16 year old kid a brand new car. Almost every kid in that class was doing horribly financially. And they’d talk for half an hour. Then it would come to me and I’d have five minutes tops. Oh and they’d talk about, like, their boat too. Keep in mind this person had a car, a house, a car for their kid, a trailer, and a boat.

My best friend for two years in high school got pushed out of where he even lived because of the stuff that was going on. I think it was mainly him being my friend that got him bullied by the teachers. I asked his parents when I saw them last if they were moving because of the school and the teachers and they said yes. And, umm, the one teacher who was nice to me got transferred to another class. A tonne of other teachers were confused about how I wasn’t listening to my teachers when I was listening to them and trying my hardest and I could just see in their faces they were confused as to why the teachers weren’t letting me go to other classes.

Now going to the best part of all, they wouldn’t go by the gender pronouns I wanted. I don’t go by them at all anymore but it was zie and zir. First thing I want to say is, I don’t think they should have been fined but it shows their character. They refused to call me by the gender pronouns I wanted for absolutely no reason. Even when the school board came in and told them they had to, nothing happened. And then they’d do this stuff that ladies first and I told them jokingly I’d have to go between because of my gender and mostly because I wanted them to stop having women go up first. And it was causing a thing where women hanged out with women and men hanged out with men. I don’t know how the others saw me because I don’t know what the teachers said when I wasn’t at school.

Now we’re at the present today. Now I’m finally getting the education I wanted. I went to the John Howard Society and got a shit ton of math done. And it was for like a year and it was great because they’d me sit down and listen to music and do as much math as I could that day. Some days would be a page and some would be five. And now I’m going through college courses.

I want to transition to female but I can’t because I want to have kids. I knew something was wrong with my gender when I was a kid, that I was probably born with the wrong gender. But I didn’t know exactly what and, to be honest, I didn’t particularly care. I was more interested in “hey, where does that creek go?” I feel upset about not transitioning.

So that’s about it. That’s my life. Other than video games, I really don’t do much anymore. I’m thinking about starting a gaming channel or something like that.

And coming up in the next blog, my views on politics. Here’s a sneak preview, politics is a bit more difficult than most people believe like Obama legalizing gay marriage is possibly one of the worst things he’s done.

Colin on the dock

p.s. How Canada did it is how Obama should have done it.

How do I know I’m a boy?

Colin used to ask me this so often and it left me confused and a bit bewildered. How didn’t he know he was a boy? It’s something you just know. So I’d answer the question as best I could.

“You’re a boy because you have a penis and when you grow up you’ll be a man. Nothing’s going to change that.”

He’d calmly accept that answer and skip off, while I wondered if he was being bullied again and just wasn’t telling me. He’d already complained about being called a he-she on the playground, which is what I’d chalked the questions up to.

Fast forward through a lot of years, right up to the Q&A we did a few days ago, where Colin answered the question of “How long have you known you were trans” with…

“I honestly don’t know. Looking back, like when I was younger, I wanted to be a girl but I never knew why.”

All the time I thought he was asking because of being teased, he was asking because he felt like a girl. And that just breaks my heart.

But, at the same time, I had no real idea what transgender was. My only examples were Klinger on MASH, who is definitely not trans and a person in our town who was horribly nicknamed Terry the Fairy who paired a dress with hairy legs. I have no idea how he identified.

Our doctor wasn’t very trans friendly, something we discovered last year, and he’d have been sent to see Dr. Zucker, who is known for being transphobic when it comes to children. He felt that teens and adults knew their gender but that kids were flexible and responded “well” to conversion therapy.

I also would have needed to deal with my ex husband, who’d claim the sky was green if he thought it would hurt me. He’d have fought me long and hard and had someone in the background willing to pay for a lawyer.

So, in reality, it wouldn’t have made a difference, other than giving my ex some more ammunition and possibly traumatizing Colin, but I can’t help thinking of how I tried to help and cringing at my words. And I can’t help looking at Colin’s answer and wishing he’d had a better way and better choices.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Colin playing in our backyard with our friends’ pick up truck

Colin’s answers…

 

Colin, I would like to know what is your passion, something you always love doing and talking about, or do you have more than one?

I have a few. Computers, video games, and technology in general. On Steam alone I have 170 video games and then I have twelve computers and out of those eight work.

I was wondering, have you gotten more than one medical opinion on the possibility of being able to have biological children if you medically transition? I have read lots of articles about trans women choosing to stop hormones temporarily in order to provide viable sperm. Though there does come a time when it gets past the point of that working. Which could be a worry if you are are really set on having a biological child.
So I know your main reason for not medically transitioning at this time, but I’m curious as to why you have chosen to not continue transitioning socially? Are you truly happy going by male pronouns and using the name Collin? Have you ever considered continuing to transition on a social level while starting to save up money to have your sperm banked? (Maybe one of the online fundraising sites would be useful). Then once you’ve had that done you’d be able to start medically transitioning if you so choose without having that worry. I’m just curious as to what the thought process has been?

It’s more than just that I’m dealing with, more than the fact of having kids. Transitioning, I don’t know how I’d look afterwards. I really don’t have the time while I’m in school so adding transitioning into it really wouldn’t help. I honestly don’t know if I’m happy going by Colin. I’ve seen a few medical doctors and statistics. Statistically there’s been a few trans people who have been able to stop hormones to have a child but it isn’t the majority.

Colin, I am confused why you put so much trust in one doctor that knows a lot less than those in your community (the trans community), in choosing not to transition. I just want to understand where your coming from, as someone who chose not to at a young age, and regretted it in the harshest way later.

The doctor really was helping me out a lot. It also wasn’t just him but others in the transitioning world. It’s not just the fact I can’t have kids which is the problem, I’m having other problems as well. The fear of the unknown strikes again. I don’t know how I’d look. And there’s school, I have a lot of school stuff to do and, once I get into college I won’t have enough time to transition.

Colin, how long have you known you are trans?

I honestly don’t know. Looking back, like when I was younger, I wanted to be a girl but I never knew why.

Would you rather fight one horse sized duck, or one-hundred duck sized horses?

One hundred duck sized horses because then I could just kick them all [vegan Mom: why not just adopt them out]

If you ran the zoo.. which animals would be in it?

If I ran the zoo, I’d definitely have to have, like, a few polar bears, a few lions, a few tigers, and a few bears. Oh and a few horses [Mom: but sadly no duck sized ones], and a t-rex.

Okay cuz I have one… How does a person help support someone who is either going through the changes of becoming another gender is thinking about it? Okay, two questions what kind of advice or thoughts would you like to offer people in general who are either ignorant (by choice) or just don’t know?

Well it’s always different from person to person. The best thing to do is just ask them. Suggest things like PFLAG if they don’t know about it already but, yeah, just ask. If they don’t know, tell them that it’s their choice, they’re not harming anyone, it doesn’t matter, and that should suffice for most people. But if they really hate it and they’re saying it’s for religious reasons that we have freedom of religion. We don’t have to follow anyone’s religion if we don’t have to. You can also mention the high suicide rate for people who can’t transition even though they’re trans. [Mom: J, I have a resources page on my blog that you can share with your friend and, like Colin, I strongly recommend PFLAG both for you and your friend. They welcome allies with open arms and have lots of information, both in groups and one on one]

Colin wants to know if anyone would like him to do a blog post himself. He’s definitely willing.

Colin on the dock

Colin sitting at the dock waiting for the ferry to take us back to shore after our cliff climb

Dear Parents, love your children…

Not just your straight, cisgender children but your rainbow children too. My heart is breaking over little Anthony Avalos, who’d been abused for years alongside his siblings, but killed after he came out gay. He was young enough and innocent enough that he didn’t even come out as gay. He said that he “liked boys”.

He was failed in so many ways. People had called the Child Protective Services sixteen times over the years regarding multiple bruises on the children. He finally died of severe head injuries while covered in cigarette burns.

I remember reading a case a few years ago that was almost identical. A young, presumed to be gay boy, a history of abuse of all siblings, a final, fatal beating. The only difference was the boy was around kindergarten age.

And there’d been another case in 2013 where the son, Gabriel Fernandez had been assumed to be gay and was beaten to death while his siblings simply got ignored. Once again the calls about abuse were ignored and they continued with the beatings until he was dead.

That’s enough. Please let that be enough. It’s enough already that 40% of homeless youths are LGBTQIA, kicked out when they come out. It’s enough that 30% of all suicides are LGBTQIA, and it’s way too much that almost 65% of unsupported trans youths have contemplated suicide with 49% attempting.

There’s still conversion therapy with all it’s horrors. Not everywhere but it’s still lurking. The author of one article I read went to one such camp and was told, flat out, by the staff that half of them would be dead by the end. Soon, the youngest, had killed himself and, by the end, half the group was gone.

Little Anthony should be at the end of a month of celebrating being himself, the end of rainbows and confetti, and loud, happy parades. He should have strings of multi-coloured beads hanging off his bed and memories of being welcome. He should not be a tiny figure in a too large body bag.

Colin was six years old. I was taking a load of recycling over to the bins when he asked if he could marry one of his male classmates who he loved dearly. Another time he informed Kait that his heart was broken because he’d asked a boy out and got turned down. Within a year or two he was interested in girls but he certainly didn’t for a couple of years. My answer when I was asked about marriage was “yes you certainly can”, even though we were a few months away from equal marriage being legalized. He deserved the same love and attention as his sister and he got it.

Please, if you cannot handle raising an LGBTQ child, let them go. Call up CPS or CAS and tell them your child is gay or trans and their life is at risk under your care. I don’t care if you have to drop them off in front of the office and leave them there, just get them out of your care before you make them a statistic.

And, for the ones who are simply confused and unsure what to do, take a look into your local PFLAG. They will help you understand what’s going on and give you resources. If you have a local chapter, you can even meet up with other parents and talk about your questions and concerns.

But can we please have no more little rainbow children in body bags. Can we please let them grow?

Colin

When love listens…

It was another angry morning. Colin was upset about a video someone produced, wishing single Moms a happy Father’s Day. He ranted through the whole video then pointed out there was only one happy Mother’s Day for single Dads and it had been made in retaliation.

“For a young woman, you sure get awful shirty about feminist issues,” I commented and he exploded.

“I’m not a woman! I’ll never be a woman! I don’t want to hear you say that again!!!”

“Umm okay,” I replied. I mean what else could I say? And he went on ranting about the school system and how it lets down boys and young men.

Our day went by. He went to school, getting drenched on his way, and we went grocery shopping… thankfully between rainstorms. Finally we were home and the food was put away.

“I was reading an article today,” I commented as casually as I could. “Both parents are trans and they both stopped taking their hormones and he got pregnant.”

“That’s really rare,” Colin replied.

I shrugged, “I think it’s a lot less rare than the doctors say. They only hear about it if someone wants to study it. Meanwhile trans people are the ones out there having the babies. Besides, sperm is reproduced all the time so once the hormones die down the sperm will start up again.”

Then Colin threw a curve ball.

“Mom? I can’t transition. What if I end up ugly?” he said, his voice almost a plea.

“You’re not going to be ugly,” I assured him. “Look, I see lots of before and after pictures online and hormones do amazing things. I’ll see a picture of someone who looks like your average man and, wow, she turns into a beautiful woman.”

He just smiled and went off to play video games. Meanwhile I made dinner and thought.

It wasn’t until after dinner that I approached Colin.

“I have something I want to say to you,” I started.

Colin laughed. “And I might hate you for it.”

“Hate me for what?” I asked and he laughed again.

“You’ll find out,” he replied with yet another laugh. At least he was in a good mood.

“I love you,” I started, “and I just want you to know you’re gorgeous.”

He stilled.

hard to fly“You are gorgeous no matter what but even if you transition you still will be gorgeous. You don’t have to be gorgeous by cis standards. You will be an absolutely gorgeous trans woman.”

There was absolute silence for a moment then Colin leaned over for a hug.

“I love you,” he murmured.

“I love you too,” I replied.

Maybe he will never transition. Maybe. But everything I’ve ever read or heard says it gets harder and harder not to be your true self and chances are someday Colin will need to transition. And I want him to know, no matter what, that he’s gorgeous.