Continuing education…

Colin was only six when he started in a special education class and it was a bad fit for him. Despite him not knowing his alphabet yet, his teacher decided to start in on spelling tests, telling me it would keep him with his peers and he’d pick up the alphabet on his own. Soon she was finding him inattentive and difficult, something that came as a complete surprise to me as his kindergarten teachers loved him. Although in hind sight, considering she wasn’t helping him catch up with his peers, I can understand. He must have been so bored and frustrated.

He moved from that class into a multiple exceptionality class in grade two and his teacher adored him. He worked hard and had all sorts of innovative ideas. He genuinely loved school and looked forward to attending.

And then came high school and that was an unmitigated disaster. His “innovative ideas” were seen as an attempt to control the class. In fact anything he did seemed to fall under that category. He couldn’t have a stress ball on his desk or a fidget toy because he was trying to control the class by distracting them. Note, he was squeezing them, not flinging them at classmates.

The teachers responded in bizarre ways. Colin loves math, always has, and asked for math class regularly. His grade school teacher loved his enthusiasm and rewarded it. His high school teachers went out of their way to avoid having math class when he was there. If Colin was sick or suspended they would have math class, something the other students would promptly inform him when he returned. One day Colin had felt sick but recovered then walked to school. The teacher watched him enter the class the immediately erased “math” off the day’s schedule.

When Colin came out as trans, he came out as non-binary first. He wasn’t sure what pronouns to use so I googled pronouns and came up with a chart. We sounded out each one then he decided to use the same pronouns as my then friend Lenny; zie and zir. I looked up the district’s policy on trans students and their pronouns and found this quote (bolding is mine):

“Suggestions to enhance the school learning environment for trans youth follow. This list is illustrative and not exhaustive. We encourage you to develop and share with your staff and the Durham District School Board other gender inclusive ideas and protocols you may develop.

PREFERRED WAYS OF ADDRESSING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE
Transsexual females—identified as male at birth To be addressed as ‘she’
Transsexual males—identified female at birth To be addressed as ‘he’
When you are in doubt of an individual’s gender Address an individual as ‘they’”

Colin’s teachers and the other team members insisted they could not use zie and zir because it was against school rules. They could only use she, he, and they as the diagram showed. I pointed out the “illustrative and not exhaustive” part and they insisted that meant again that they could only use the diagram. Sigh, that’s not what the sentence means.

I had to go over their heads and, thanks to PFLAG, found someone on the school board to explain the guidelines. Which worked well in paper but not so much in real life. In real life they continued to use he and him. In meetings they’d, oops forget, 9 times out of 10. You don’t forget pronouns that much unless you never use them in the first place. And, to make matters worse, the teachers were actively teasing Colin over his pronouns. Separating the class into boys and girls then telling Colin he’d never get to be first in line for a treat because he’d “chosen” not to be male or female (among other instances).

At the end of grade 12 both Colin and I were so done with his school. He could have continued in a “bridge to work” programme but we figured it would be more of the same. More of them refusing to allow him into mainstream classes, more refusals to have harder work, especially in math, and more antagonising behaviour.

Colin has loved computers and electronics as soon as he was aware of them and has wanted to work with them for as long as I can remember. It was in high school that his dream job focused on robotics. Now that he was out of high school, he set out to realize his dreams.

He couldn’t start at college, even with support, as he didn’t have nearly enough education. So he called continuing education, who also told him he didn’t have enough education. He only had one high school credit and needed more. Then he tried Durham Alternative Secondary Education and was told the same thing. Same with the Catholic School Board. Finally, in desperation, I suggested the John Howard Society and, bingo, we had a winner.

Soon Colin was in school from Monday to Thursday and loving it. He attended right though summer and only missed days for doctor’s appointments. Then one day recently, he came home and told me he was only going to school on Friday now and was going to be taking school at Durham College. Soon I found him working on a computer he set up on our kitchen table (so not the place I’d have chosen) with two monitors and a calculator so he could finish his work and get it emailed in.

Colin smiling on his balcony

One proud smile

And then came last Wednesday when Colin proudly informed me he’s now going to College Prep classes. He’s attending school from Monday through Thursday again but this time with an eye towards him entering college as a student, albeit one with special needs. Finally his chance of going to school for robotics is in sight.

Colin has always been a smart kid, he’s struggled due to learning disabilities and autism, but he’s smart. I am so glad to see that educators are finally seeing this and are giving him a chance not just to survive but thrive.

Way to go Colin! You’ve earned this!!!

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World’s worst whack-a-mole game Part 2…

There’s another hateful meme going around the internet and this time it’s pretending to be a joke. An April Fool’s joke to be exact. I have to admit, transphobes have pretty weird ideas of what constitutes a joke.

transphobic meme

First of all the meme starts with the misunderstanding that mother and father, in all their various forms, has been banned and replaced by the word parent. That comes from a suggestion by the Prime Minister to Service Canada employees to use gender neutral words instead of assuming someone’s gender or until the parent specifies their preference.

For example, the Service Canada employee asks if you are little Sarah’s parent. You say, “Yes I am.” You will continue to be referred to as her parent. If you say, “Yes, I’m her mother” you will be referred to as her mother. No one is saying that Mama and Papa are offensive. They’re simply saying not everyone is a mother or father. Some people really do use the word “parent” to describe themselves. Non-binary people exist.

Then comes the complete and utter foolishness in claiming it shows a lack of common sense to affirm the existence of non-binary people. A lack of common sense would come from the people who look at this world filled with a rainbow of people and say, “Nope, just two genders. I can’t see you.” Talk about burying your head in the sand.

Plus the sign the A&W bear is holding uses the word “peoplekind” which is something I’ve only heard right wingers use since Trudeau said it as a joke, and the misspelling of the word rule. If a Liberal wrote the sign, it would read “humankind rules” or “everyone rules” to include, well, everyone. There’s no point in pretending Liberals are idiots because we patently aren’t. That claim only makes the people saying that look like fools.

And, of course, there’s the burger, made to look as idiotic as possible with trendy implausible ingredients. Ground beef instead of a patty? Quinoa for a bun? If I were making a LGBTQ burger, it would be an amazingly tasty vegan burger with your choice of toppings (like Harveys) with the proceeds going to a LGBTQ charity like Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors program.

What’s patently obvious is this “joke” is sad, transphobic, and juvenile with a burger pulled right off of Pinterest, which wasn’t credited. The people sharing it, unironically, are the dinosaurs of our world, becoming extinct so the next generation can stand up tall and take over. And that generation is the most LGBTQ friendly generation in recorded history. The future is rainbow and full of promise!

World’s worst whack-a-mole game…

I stared, gobsmacked, at the picture on my screen, simply unable to believe my eyes. I thought I’d gotten rid of all the transphobes but apparently she just hadn’t spoken out yet. My sister’s step mother in law had posted this…

asshole post

I wrote a quick reply back saying “that leaves out a lot of people. My ex boyfriend was non-binary for years and went by zie and zir. Those pronouns helped him immensely during those years. Colin used those pronouns as well for two years.

“The prefix Mx also help nonbinary people feel like they have a voice and a space in society. It’s such an easy prefix too, it’s simply pronounced “mix”.

“No one’s trying to remove the more common words from society. We’re simply realizing that there are other people who are hurt by being pushed out of society and into the margins.

“I have several friends who use they/them pronouns and having that option has made such a difference for them. Colin still uses they/them pronouns for people he doesn’t know, simply because he doesn’t want to accidentally hurt anyone.

“Using someone’s correct pronouns and prefix is never foolish.”

I didn’t get a reply from the Facebook friend. The OP of the meme deleted it and blocked me, although he left my shorter comment up. Maybe because it already had replies.

Then I made my own meme, with a rainbow background, in the hopes it would get shared as a rebuttal to the above meme. It did… kind of. The one on my personal page was shared 19 times. I can’t tell if the one on my Because I’m Fabulous page was shared at all. The above meme was shared over 11 thousand times. But isn’t that the way it goes? Hate spreads so much faster than love or kindness.

I’ve written several blog posts where I’ve shared and debunked common arguments against trans people but I have strong doubts that transphobes even read them. Not that I really expected them to, I write them in hopes that someone else might have more information in the battle against transphobia. Some days it feels like I’m playing the world’s worst game of whack a mole. One ignorant person gets whacked down and three more pop up. It’s as if they’re breeding like cockroaches.

Colin got interviewed, via email, today for the Metro UK paper. The reporter wanted his views and feelings on detransitioning. One of the comments he made said he couldn’t transition after he had children because he wouldn’t look 100% like a woman then. I wanted to tell him it wouldn’t matter as long as he was himself. I know he’d be loved by his sister and I but what about the strangers on the street? The prospective employers? Future landlords? How would they treat a 6ft 3in masculine woman? I look at the difference between the shares of my meme and the above meme and don’t feel hopeful. The OP only had that post up for four days when he hit the 11 thousand mark. Mine’s been up for two.

I live in Ontario, the first province in Canada to support and affirm equal marriage. We pride ourselves on being tolerant and accepting. Our local PFLAG has the biggest turnout across the country, which is great for them and stinks for my anxiety. We have protections in place for equal rights to housing and employment, although I’m fully aware that what’s equal on paper isn’t necessarily so in real life. And yet… the step mother in law and the creator of that yellow meme are both Canadians. Acknowledging that makes me feel icky, like I picked up a perfect red apple and a worm crawled out. They’re arguing against my child leading a happy life as himself. They’re arguing against all our trans children, friends, and neighbours. And they think they’re in the right.

I made this meme as a protest against those negative views… against that horrible meme. Please feel free to share it in the hopes that others will see. Maybe it will plant a seed of kindness. Maybe it will plant a seed of hope.

genders and pronouns

The comment section…

I remember my first exposure to the comment section. I was reading an article from the Toronto Star and noticed they had comments. I eagerly went to read, thinking it would be like the letters to the editor, heavily moderated and edited for brevity. They were no such thing. People were battling it out in the comments, complete with name calling. Later I realized that was the same for almost all sites. The comment section is where you tread carefully because trolls abound.

Then Emma came out as trans. I joined groups and made friends with both trans people and with parents of trans children. And, of course, articles about trans issues began flooding my newsfeed. And the trolls quickly followed. Once the transphobic trolls are weeded out, I find there’s five questions that surface again and again.

  1. The gender nonconforming girl and it’s always a girl. No men ever step up to talk about their gender nonconforming days *cough* toxic masculinity. She wanted to be a boy so badly when she was growing up. Boys had more freedom. So she wore boys clothes and had short hair. She might have even tried to pee standing up. Then she became a teenager and, voila, she because super girly. Loved lipstick and makeup and pretty dresses. Now she’s happily married to a man. If she was born today she would have been labelled trans. But, no, that’s not how it works. Trans children are almost always insistent and persistent. They know what sex they are and say it loud and clear. I’m a boy. I’m a brother. When will I grow a penis? They don’t just want to be a boy, they are a boy. If she was growing up now, she’d be labelled “gender nonconforming” just like countless other children today.
  2. There’s only two genders! Except there’s not. There are cultures all around the world who have more than one gender. Some have as much as five (the Bugis people in Indonesia for example). In North America, the indigenous people had a third gender known as two spirited. They were revered as wise people because they contained both male and female spirits. Our modern culture isn’t the only culture in the world.
  3. Tagging along with two genders comments are the people who say things like “my XX children are girls”. Maybe they think adding a bit of genetics into their argument will make them sound more intelligent. Pro tip, it’s not working. No one seriously thinks you took your children in for genetic testing just so you could rant on Facebook. There are well more than five genetic variants, with things like single X, XXY, XXX for example. If you haven’t tested your child, you don’t know what their chromosomes are. You could be in for a surprise.
  4. There’s always some who trots out the “My kid pretended to be a dog. Should I have changed his name to Rover and let him eat off the floor?” We all know kids love pretend play. They pretend to be cats and dogs and superheros and princesses… and sometimes an amalgamation of several of those. But there’s a huge difference between pretend play and being trans. Trans children are insistent and persistent. They often become withdrawn and confused because nobody else sees them as the gender they know they are. Some, as young as four or five, try to commit suicide. It’s not a game. Pretend play is fun and passes within a few weeks at the latest. Trans stays. The child might pretend to be cis if they’re met with extreme negativity, derision, or threats of or actual violence but they still know they’re trans and most eventually come out, whether it’s in their 20’s, 30’s, or even sometimes in their 80’s.
  5. Last, but not least, are the people who worry about the children changing their minds. How are they going to revert back? The answer is easy and should be obvious. They start using their birth name again and get a new wardrobe and haircut. Reverting back to their assigned gender isn’t very common however and often the child turns out to be non binary rather than being a cis male or female. The people who ask this question are usually quite uninformed and assume that transitioning to male or female in childhood somehow requires surgery. It doesn’t. No one is performing sexual affirmation surgery on children. That doesn’t happen until the late teens at the earliest.

I will sometimes wade into the comment section of articles and dispense answers, not because I think I’m going to get a bigot to think but because of all the people lurking. The people who know nothing about trans people and are willing to learn, the parents of trans kids, and trans people who are getting disheartened by all the transphobic comments. Besides, even if I only change one person’s mind, it could make a life time of difference to their child.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Colin, when he was younger, in some of his favourite dress up clothes

 

An open letter by Kait…

Trigger warnings;

Mention/quotes of homophobic/transphobic comments, mention/quotes of emotional abuse, general fuckery, bullshit, and douchebaggery

An open letter to my father;

I am writing this, not for you, but for every parent like you. I honestly hope you leave us alone, including not reading Mom’s blog anymore, but I know you won’t, so I might as well address this to you.

This week, you showed your true colours, not just to us, but to everyone who saw your birthday post on Emma’s Facebook wall. You planned a month in advance, a post in which you intentionally dead-named and misgendered her, and tried to disguise it as a loving birthday wish. When you planned it, you told me you wanted to start a fight, you said you hoped it would make Mom angry enough to confront you, or at least get some of her friends commenting at you.

I guess you got your wish.

You used every chance you could to antagonize people further, and when you couldn’t find a legitimate way to escalate the fight, you would make things up out of thin air. By the time everything was said and done, you had lost both of your daughters. We both blocked you, and I wrote you off as a lost cause.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, you called Emma yesterday, claiming you wanted to comment your apology on the thread, and asking to be unblocked. Emma hadn’t totally written you off yet, so she unblocked you, without demanding a private apology first. You then claimed that there was nowhere to comment, and when she asked how you would apologize, you told her that you had gotten what you needed, by copying the beginning bits of the conversation to prove to somebody that you “tried” to apologize. That was when Emma wrote you off as a lost cause, too.

We all hoped that after the things you said publicly, this would be the end of the contact you would have with us (especially with Emma), but of course, that was not the case.

The messages you sent her today went way over the top. You sent multiple messages to her, just to tell her that you don’t think LGBT people are people, you think they should all be killed painfully, you want to watch the aforementioned killings, and that not only is she not your kid until she “realizes” she isn’t trans, but that you want your DNA back, because “it kills me u soiling my last name u freak”.

I don’t know at what point you became such a disgusting, pathetic, excuse of a person, or maybe you’ve always been like this, but just hid it better, either way; I hope that one day someone says those kinds of things about you. I’ll say one right now; I am ashamed to share a last name with you.

So, here are some questions, not just for you, but for every parent who feels the way you do;

Why does it matter to you so much that your child should be a boy, instead of a girl? If she was born with a vagina, would you have run out of the hospital room, screaming that she wasn’t yours unless she grew a penis?

How does it hurt you when she wears dresses, instead of jeans? Do her dresses turn into weird fabric snakes, and strangle you?

What’s the difference if she carries a purse, instead of a backpack?

How is it so offensive to you that she paints her nails?

Why does the fact that your daughter has a penis, mean that you love her any less?

Emma is my sister, and I will always stand with her. She drives me all the way up the wall, back down again, and around the whole bloody room, but she is still my sister. Changing her name, pronouns, and wardrobe, didn’t change who she is, or how much I love her. It sure changed who you were though.

To every homophobic, and/or transphobic parent out there;

If you wouldn’t say it to your newborn, don’t say it to your grown child.

If who your kid is, loves, or wants to be, could offend you so much that you’d stop loving them, don’t have children.

And if it’s too late, and you already have kids, do them a favour and walk out quietly, to leave them with the family members that actually deserve to interact with them.

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn

Proud big sister of a transgender, lesbian, little sister

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.

Standing up…

When Jeremy was little, he was mistaken for a girl on a regular basis.jeremy-easter-2010

“What a cute little girl!”
“You’ve got such a lovely daughter?”
“How old is she?”
“What’s her name?”
“She’s so sweet!”

I didn’t bother to correct them. Jeremy didn’t mind and it simply embarrassed people. Besides, he was cute, lovely, adorable, and sweet. Even when his hair was short, he still got “such a lovely girl” comments. He was sweet.

Back then I knew nothing about trans people. I wondered why Jeremy only played girl characters in his games and played dress up right into his preteens with his sister but figured he was just imaginative and liked the way the dresses felt.

jeremy-in-2014Then he became a teenager and started experimenting more with his hair and, to a lesser extent, his clothes. The comments changed slightly to include “ma’am” and he was still, to the mildly unobservant, feminine.

He still didn’t mind being called her and she, in fact, sometimes it seemed to bring him joy. And I still had no idea what that could mean.

Now he’s almost 20 years old with mitts for hands, size 12 men’s feet, and a deep bass voice. Now he’s talking about transitioning. And I’m so scared. I belong to enough groups to know people aren’t kind to 6ft 3in women with deep voices and adam’s apples. I read the posts on Facebook. I know there’s been seven trans women (and one colin-and-laratrans man) killed so far in the States this year alone. I haven’t heard any statistics for Canada.

Jeremy talks happily about buying a bikini with a skirt and how he’s always wanted a frilly dress with lots of floofy layers. I will do everything I can to help him achieve his dreams but I can’t do everything.

Please be kind when you see my child on the street. For all that he’s 19 years old, he’s still my child. He bought a Minecraft book today and jelly beans then laughed over bathroom humour in a YouTube video.  He’s still young. He’s not a joke. He’s not a freak. He’s a person with feelings and thoughts.

One day he’s going to be stepping out that door in the dress of his dreams. You might see him or, more likely, you will see someone like him. Someone who, for whatever reason, just isn’t fitting in 100%. Please be kind, be helpful, and let him come home safely with his heart intact. Stand up for him. Stand up with him. Don’t let him feel alone against the bullies and please, please don’t let him be a statistic.