The hard decision…

I was in the living room with Emma Colin yesterday, after taking our Christmas stuff down to storage, when he suddenly announced, “I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to transition or not but right now I’m leaning toward not.”

“Because you want to have kids?” I asked, even though I knew the answer. We’ve talked about it enough already and he’s been wavering on the border of transitioning or not for months now.

“Yes,” he replied. “It’s so hard to choose to transition and have kids. What if I decide I want to adopt and the agency doesn’t accept me?”

I had no answer for that. I have no idea what parameters adoption clinics have for their prospective clients. I made my kids at home, from scratch, for free. So I changed the topic slightly.

“If you decide you’re not going to transition, will you want me to stop calling you Emma and start calling you Colin again?”

He nodded then said, “It’s such a hard decision to make.”

“I bet it is,” I replied.

That’s something I never had to worry about. I’d just turned 25 years old when I had Kait and there was every expectation that if we did the deed enough (but not too much) a baby would ensue. I wasn’t worrying about infertility, sperm banks, or adoption… especially not at 20 years old. I tried to think of some way to support Colin, considering he wants both options, transitioning and a baby, pretty much equally.

“When I was trying to decide whether to leave your Dad or not, I thought a lot about if it would be fair to you and Kait. My thoughts ran round and around. Then I pictured Kait as an adult and in the same situation. Would I want her to stay or to go? The answer was unequivocally to go. Why would I treat myself worse than her? I too am someone else’s child. So you picture someone you love in your situation. And picture them struggling for an answer. The gender dysphoria isn’t going to get any better. Would you wish that on someone you love?”

“No,” he replied.

“So why would you wish it on you?”

“Because I really want kids,” he replied.

Which is where I bite my tongue. I know he wants kids but he doesn’t have them yet and I can’t bring myself to worry about kids who don’t exist. I care for and worry about him.

“I know,” I assured him. “Just remember this conversation and that if things get rough you always have more than one option.”

Later, after we’d eaten our fill of homemade tempura, I stood with Colin while he took his medicine and asked, “Do you want me to start calling you Colin now.”

He shook his head. “No, can you please keep calling me Emma?” he asked plaintively.

“Of course,” I replied. “I’ll call you that until you ask me not to.”

And now all I can do is hope that he finds an answer he can live with.

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Four years of writing…

WordPress informed me today that I’ve been writing this blog for exactly four years now, that my first post was written on December 22, 2013. Back then we were using pseudonyms. I was Michelle, Colin was Jeremy (the male name I’d picked for Kait), and Kait was Emma(the female name I’d picked for Colin). We showed no pictures with faces and made sure to mention only that we were Canadian and near Toronto. Colin was still in high school, which he’s since graduated from (refusing their additional program called school to work) and Kait was working for No Frills, a Canadian grocery store chain. I was working full time for Tim Hortons, a Canadian coffee chain.

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Four years later and so much has changed. I’d always struggled with mild to moderate depression but it wasn’t enough to affect my job. Then it burst into full blown depression (Major Depressive Disorder) and extreme anxiety. I take a handful of pills a day and my psychiatrist doesn’t think I’ll ever work again. Which is a blow since I’m in my 40’s still but it wasn’t a surprise. I belong to a couple of groups in meatspace and do a variety of activities such as bowling, yoga, making bath bombs, and extreme couponing. Both groups are near a walking trail so I walk on the trail either before or after group to get my 10,000 steps.

Kait no longer works at No Frills, instead she’s a store clerk for a gas station, working their midnight shift. She’s doing an amazing job there, they say she’s their best night shift worker ever. Plus she loves her home and her two kitties. She’s been with her boyfriend for about as long as the blog and is doing well with him.

Colin is the focus of the blog and he’s the one who’s gone through the most transitions. He started out wondering if he were bisexual then realized he didn’t like-like boys, only girls. Right from the first post he identified with Jazz Jennings, a trans teenager from Florida, except he wasn’t uncomfortable with his body at the time, he just had a “girl’s brain”. Then, a little while later, people started doing those genetic tests. I used to hang out a lot in a forum called Regretsy (sadly it no longer exists) and one of the people did one of the tests and posted the results. I read them aloud to Colin and he got excited right at the beginning when it said the sex was male. Could he take the test too? I had no idea what he was talking about until he added “so I can find out what sex I am”. I explained it would only tell him his birth sex, not how he feels inside. Another time I pointed out we were having a lot more trans readers and Colin’s response was, “That’s not a surprise.” It took me a long time to realize that Colin wasn’t cisgender but he was patient with me. Then came the sorting out. He started out as bigender (feeling both male and female) then pangender (feeling like all genders) then started exploring more towards being female. He drifted into being female and picked out the name Emma (which was the name I’d chosen when I was pregnant with him). He was happy with the name and being referred to with female pronouns. Then he started worrying about fertility. He’s wanted to be a parent since he could talk so that wasn’t a surprise but the lack of fertility preservation was a shock. Freezing sperm only works 50% of the time and is expensive and stopping hormone therapy has an unknown success rate because it seems like only trans people are talking about it. The doctors claim 100% infertility once the hormones take effect. So now Colin’s still female but not sure about transitioning. I use Colin on the blog and both Colin and Emma at home. He’s happy with that. He’s also in school, taking mostly math, and hoping to eventually go to college. He builds and rebuilds computers in his spare time and plays PC video games.

Kait and her boyfriend are coming over for dinner, stockings, and presents tomorrow. I’m going to make Kait’s favourites; pasta with pumpkin sauce and Christmas Crack. I’ve included the link because the dessert is easy and amazingly yummy. They claim it’ll last a week, like you’re not going to eat half a pan standing over the kitchen counter. I don’t have a link to the pumpkin pasta, sadly. It was a recipe from the Today’s Parent forums, another site that no longer exists.

Colin and I are going to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve and sleeping over that night. Which saves a heck of a lot of driving, rather than going back and forth each day. Kait’s going to be there on Christmas Eve too.

I wonder where we’ll be in four more years. Where ever it is, I’m sure it’ll be fabulous!

 

Happy Holidays!

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.

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!

“I’m transitioning”…

“Well hello,” said the elderly man from our UU church. He smiled then turned to Emma. “And who might this handsome young man be?” he asked jokingly.

“I’m Emma,” Emma replied. “I’m transitioning.”

The man looked bewildered. “Erma?” he asked.

“Emma,” both Emma and I replied.

“Alma?”

“Emm-mma,” I said slowly.

He smiled and went on with his conversation. I wondered if he thought we were joking.

Emma tells everyone she’s transitioning these days from her cousins to the cashier at the grocery store and every one gives her the same blank look. We belong to online groups and PFLAG, to us it seems like half the planet is either in transition or related to someone who is. I’m guessing, judging by the blank looks we encounter, that’s not the case outside our little circle because no one seems to have a clue what she’s talking about.

I wonder how people’s reactions will change when she eventually starts taking hormones and begins to look more feminine.

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.

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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