Looking at life from both sides…

I remember, years ago in Sociology, the teacher talked about three different kinds of parenting; authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. Authoritarian were the strict parents, expecting respect and obedience and deciding what was best for the child. Permissive parents wanted to be their child’s friend to the point of making little to no rules. And Authoritative was a blend of the two, giving the child a say but making the final decision.

I thought about that class a couple of days ago while I read comments on a Facebook post. I watched parents from both sides expressing love for their children and child abuse by the opposing parents. It was easy to see who was authoritarian and who was authoritative.

The authoritative parents were listening to their child’s insistent claims of being the other gender. They were going to doctors, psychiatrists, and counselors to sort out what’s going on. They were listening to their child but weren’t changing anything until the professionals were called.

The authoritarian parents listened to their child’s insistent claims of being the other gender and quickly and firmly told the child, “no, you are a boy/girl. I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about this”. And, of course, the child stops talking about it for years and years until they either commit suicide or come out as an adult. But, in the meantime their parents are certain they are doing the right thing. “Children are too young for stuff like that” is a comment I see regularly. Comparing being trans to sexual abuse is another, even though they are completely different things.

The authoritarian parents ask questions like “My child wanted to be a dog. Should I have got her a collar and started feeding her on the floor?” My sister pretended to be a dog for a little while too. She had to eat at the table but could crawl around and bark as much as she wanted. I was a child myself so I don’t know how long it lasted. I’m going to guess not very long. Trans children, on the other hand, are adamant they’re the other gender (or somewhere in between) and they keep persisting. And once they transition, they stay that other gender, for the most part. It doesn’t matter if they change their mind because the only thing that happens when a child transitions is they change clothes and hair styles.

I have some sympathy for the authoritarian parents. It’s hard to listen to your child’s choices when they make such spectacularly bad decisions. You put the goldfish where?!? But then I remember Leelah Alcorn and how her parents denied her truth over and over again, even after she died. And these statistics:

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The pale blue bars show the authoritarian parents. They’re the parents who said “no, you are who we say you are”. The dark blue shows the authoritative parents. Now look at the difference, especially the last section which is attempted suicide, not just talking about it but doing it. 57 per cent, more than half of the unsupported kids versus 4 per cent for the supported kids. Is being in charge all the time worth losing your kid? Sure you get your chosen name on the gravestone instead of theirs but damn.

I know I have groups of people who don’t like me, they show up in my statistics. They either think Colin’s getting manipulated into being trans. That kiddo could give a lawyer a run for her money. Or that he’s so developmentally delayed that he simply agrees to everything I say. This would be a surprise for his teacher. You know what though? I don’t give a rat’s ass what they think. My kids are far more important.

Right now Colin’s wavering between being Colin or Emma. I have no idea how long this wavering will take and no idea what he will choose. Either way, it’s his decision, not mine. And as an authoritative parent, I will support him either way.

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Detransitioning…

“I borrowed one of your shirts,” I called as Emma untied her shoes in the front hall.

She walked into the living room and looked at me, “You can keep it,” she said, “It looks good on you. Besides I won’t be needing it.”

“So you’ve decided? You’re not transitioning?” I asked.

“I can’t,” she replied. “I want to be a parent so badly.”

I’d already talked to her about adoption and using a sperm donor. She’d vetoed both, wanting a baby that came from her.

I said the first thing that came to mind. “It’s a good thing I didn’t buy an Emma name card for your bedroom door.”

“Oh yeah,” she breathed. “I would have cried.”

“Are you changing because you really are male?” I had to ask.

She shook her head, “No. I’m female.”

I don’t know what to do now. She figures she won’t need to tell the family because they don’t use her name and pronouns anyway. I think they could use a head’s up. But then there’s Facebook and her doctor’s office and, well, me. I changed pronouns quickly when she started out with zie and moved to they. I even switched quickly when she went back to he for half a year. But switching back to male everything when I know she’s a woman? That’s harder. A lot harder.

So, from now on I’ll be doing my best to refer to Emma as Colin and using the pronouns he and him. And maybe someday I’ll be able to say Emma again.

You are..

You are loved
You are valued
You are important
You are beautiful
You are handsome
You are strong
You are powerful
You are made from the stuff of stars
You are kindness
You are courage
You are freedom
You are cared for
You matter

On this, the Transgender Day of Remembrance, you are honoured and treasured. Even if you feel alone, there are people out there who would love to meet you, would love to be your friend.

If you are depressed there are numbers you can call for help. Or you can message me on my Facebook page. I will listen.

Trans day of Remembrance

Decisions… decisions…

Nothing much has changed on Emma’s side regarding transitioning. She knows she’s female but hasn’t decided whether to start hormones or not. She doesn’t want to be a trap (definitions 3 and 4) as she puts it.

There seems to be blocks everywhere. Having her stop transitioning and waiting for a decade or so to have biological kids is easy to say but isn’t particularly feasible as she’s already struggling with gender dysphoria. Plus, as Emma pointed out, there’s no guarantee she’ll be able to have biological kids. She could fall in love with another trans woman or a woman who’s infertile.

Sperm banks are prohibitively expensive, then there’s storage fees on top of the first payment. Plus there’s In Vitro Fertilization which only a 40% success rate per cycle for a young person. Once her spouse’s age goes past 35 years old, that rate drops.

And the last choice, on her list, adoption. This one sounds like a good option on in future. Let’s say Emma and her partner have good jobs and they want to adopt. They get a list of questions and one of the first ones is “Do you have a mental illness?” and that’s the end of the questioning because she’s no longer valid to be an adoptive parent.

Her only hope now is for a partner with a womb so they can use a sperm bank, something I haven’t looked into… yet.

I’ve found someone for her to talk to, mostly because I’m tactless and will do just about anything for my kids when they’re in a tough situation. I walked up to a total stranger and asked her if she was trans. She was. Before she could turn around and walk away, I blurted, “I’m asking for my teenager, she’s trans”. We had a good conversation and she gave me her phone number and agreed to chat with Emma.

It’s hard waiting for Emma to make up her mind. I could ask her but it’s her decision to make and she needs space to do this on her own. I just hope she makes the decision for her and not some possibly future embryo.

Clothes shopping…

It was afternoon when Emma called. I’d been having a high anxiety day and was still in my pjs.

“Mom, I’ve got a 30% off coupon at Value Village. Why don’t you meet me and we can go clothes shopping together.”

Clothes shopping was definitely at the bottom of my list of things to do. Right under scrubbing the bathroom with a toothbrush. Then my mind caught up.

“Are you scared to go into the ladies section on your own?”

“Yes,” she replied.

Okay, I’ll get dressed and I’ll meet you there.”

Emma was waving to me at the front door when I arrived. Then we went looking for their x-large section in ladies wear. This was easier said than done. Did you know they have an entire section devoted to button up sweaters? I sure didn’t. But we finally found the correct section and started riffling through the long sleeved shirts.

Emma got bored and discouraged quickly.

“I’m going to shop in the men’s department,” she said with a sigh. “At least I know the clothes will fit from there. And, with that she walked off. I kept searching and quickly found several shirts that would probably fit her and a shirt for myself. She was back with me in a couple of minutes.

“Couldn’t find anything?” I asked

“I was too scared to go into the men’s department,” she admitted.

“Well I found a bunch of shirts for you,” I assured her, gesturing to the buggy. She looked pleased with the selection.

shopping for Emma

So sparkly!

Luckily the changerooms here are unisex, just a row of rooms in the corner of the store. Emma quickly found one and started changing. She even opened the door for me to see a couple of shirts. And, by the time she was done, she had at least five “new” shirts.

Then came yesterday. We were at Dollarama when Emma gasped, “I’ve always wanted one of these!”

One of those being a purple infinity scarf. I’m trying to cut back on spending but I bought the darn thing anyways. She put it on as soon as she got home and then she started fiddling with it.

“Look,” she said as she wrapped it around her waist. “It can double as clothing if you lose all of yours.”

I think I’ll pass on that fashion statement.

It’s so nice to get my sparkly girl back again!

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.