Straight pride…

I can’t remember how old I was, maybe six or seven. I was standing in the living room beside my Mom when a boy only a little older than me walked past on the road. It was obvious he was crying.

“Why’s he crying Mommy?” I asked.

“He’s going to karate and he doesn’t want to go,” she replied.

“But why does he have to go if he doesn’t like it?”

My Mom thought for a few minutes, likely tailoring the story into something more suitable for my age. “His father thinks he’s too… sensitive… too girly and he’s trying to toughen him up.”

I thought of how sad he’d looked. “Can’t someone stop his Dad?”

“It’s not illegal to send your child to karate, even if he doesn’t like it. It’s not even against the law to make him walk there.”

I could tell by my Mom’s voice she didn’t like it. It was also obvious that there was nothing she or anyone else could do. It was also obvious that some adults did not like their children for who they were. Fit in or get hammered in.

The years passed and I was in high school. I was in a crowded hall when the group next to me caught my attention. Maybe because they were loud. Maybe because there was a teacher in the group. It was Monday and they were talking about what they’d done that weekend.

“I went downtown,” one said with a shit eating grin. A second and the teacher had also gone.

I loved going downtown too. I’d go down Queen Street to Bakka, a sci-fi/fantasy bookstore and I’d sometimes eat at The Old Spaghetti Factory. That wasn’t why they went though.

“There’s so many fags there, I didn’t have enough rocks!”

“I hit one and made him bleed!” The rest, including the teacher, made noises of approval, while I slid through the crowd and hurried away, feeling sick.

Time went on. I joined a choir and looked forward to our weekly rehearsals. One year we performed the song “Putting on the Ritz” and had a tap dancer perform in the middle. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him and couldn’t stop blushing either. He was really cute and a really good dancer. I mentioned the latter to the person beside me who looked at me with surprise.

“She’s a girl,” the choir member informed me. I looked closer and, sure enough, she was. But the interest didn’t go away. And, unlike the feeling of curiosity I felt when I was romantically attracted to a boy, this time all I felt was fear.

I was bullied at school and already knew how kids treat those they feel are different. And, of course, I couldn’t forget the guys blithely talking about throwing rocks at strangers for fun.

By the time I finished high school I was so far into the closet I’m surprised I didn’t come back out riding a lion. I married a man and was pregnant before our first anniversary. I’d worn my hair almost down to my waist for years but was finding it harder to keep it brushed and decent so I’d got a short cut in my 8th month. We went out for a walk one evening when a car drove by. The passenger yelled, “Fags!!!” out the open window. Anything else he said blurred into nonsense syllables while they sped away. I was terrified. Would they come back? Would they care that I was pregnant if they did. My ex wasn’t worried at all. I, however, knew how they treated those who were different.

It was last December and on our first date when I slid my hand into my girlfriend’s hand. We walked down a quiet path and I quietly breathed a sigh of relief when no one said anything. I knew that wasn’t the case all the time. Times have changed but by how much? Apparently enough to have a straight pride parade.

The parade is scheduled for this August in Boston and, to no one’s surprise, has links with the far-right and includes having Milo Yawnopoulos as the Grand Marshal. I’ve read a mixture of opinions regarding it but all I have is rage.

Pride started out as a protest against police brutality. It started with a brick thrown by a black trans sex worker, causing a riot that lasted for several days. The following year they started a parade and it’s continued ever since, spreading across the world. It was a parade of rage. Rage against the police officers who would pull them onto the street naked to shame them. Rage against the public who didn’t care. Rage against people who attacked them and mocked them… who refused to hire them or rent apartments to them. It wasn’t a party.

Now the Pride Parade is more of a party, a celebration of how far we’ve come. A celebration that we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going away.

But now there’s a straight backlash. They want to be in the LGBTQIA2S acronym, you know, because it isn’t quite long enough yet. They want their parade too. It’s not fair.

Do you know what’s not fair? What’s not fair is that child crying his way to karate, knowing his father only wanted him if he was someone else. Someone stronger… someone more straight. That child’s suicide attempt risk is so much higher than a straight child.

What’s not fair is all the people who had rocks thrown at them all because they dared to hold hands in a gay enclave. Or had slurs screamed at them.

What’s not fair is the eleven POC trans women who have been killed this year alone.

Or how about gay conversion therapy for youths, a treatment that has huge suicide rates and can cause PTSD.

Straight people want the party without the pain. They’ve never worried about holding hands or being attacked. They don’t have to worry about being misgendered and mocked by hospital staff after being assaulted. The people demanding their straight parade are like a spoiled child seeing a student get an award and demanding to know where their award is too, even though they didn’t put in any of the work.

No one’s stopping them for attending a pride parade, although I have a hunch they refuse out of a fear of having a pass made to them. They can wave rainbow flags and laugh and cheer with everyone else. Allies are more than welcome.

But they’re going to have their parade and a bunch of my friends are figuring it’s going to be the most boring parade ever, unless the far-right ignites a riot. And I’m just glad I’m nowhere near it.

 

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Woke people need to stay in their lane…

I am so tired of people who claim to be woke. They’re not very woke, they need a few more hours sleep because they’re cranky as hell and don’t always make much sense. In their minds, they are the chosen few who have risen above racism and cast judgement on us lesser people. In reality they’re harassing their allies and driving them away.

I had a friend who got mad at me for saying Roseanne Barr was a horrible person for dressing up as Hitler and pulling little burnt Jewish cookies out of a gas oven. I needed to “stay in my lane”. Several Jewish people said it was fine and they agreed with me. She spoke over them to tell me, once again, to stay in my lane. I simply said “no” and got unfriended.

And now, today, I have a “friend” who posted this…

ridiculous radicals

Gee… I wonder if a “radical” wrote this. I am a Liberal and have no interest in being Radical. I also don’t think that POC need to learn how to act like white people. I believe we need to accept people as themselves. So I wrote, “I’m liberal but don’t think that at all.” Short and sweet, right? This was the response…

Holy shitballs folks, maybe when something angers you it’s time to examine why you’re so angry…

Because I, btw, do not consider myself a liberal exactly because of how invested in white supremacy liberals in the USA are.

And because any discussion about race leads to white folks moaning about how “not them” instead of calling out other white people.

Not every generalization applies to you as an individual, get over yourselves. They apply to liberals GENERALLY.

Although I find the ones quickest to #notall are usually the most guilty need to be defensive.

That you even get to argue this shit is a privilege. Deal with the fact that you are racist and do better instead of thinking that when I complain about men/whites/liberals I’m calling you out personally.

Unless, you know, them shoes fit.

For someone who’s claiming myself and the other person who commented are angry, she sure has a lot of rage. I responded that her response was full of anger and she might want to look in a mirror. She was not happy to be told that.

People need to stop pinning labels on others and making assumptions about their beliefs and prejudices. Instead they need to treat each individual as just that, an individual. Black people can be prejudiced against other POC, southern Baptists can end up being supportive of trans people, white liberals can be open minded, and radicals can be ignorant.

If you build a big wall of intolerance between you and your neighbour, you are never going to see your similarities and you’ll never get the chance to actually know them.

Sadly, I don’t think this friend is going to try and listen but hopefully someone will because racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are growing and the people who should be fighting against it are fighting their allies and calling them names instead.

When school isn’t safe…

Update: There is now a GoFundMe for Maddie and her family to move to Houston. Please click here for it!

TW: extreme transphobic comments against a child

Twelve years old, that boundary year, the line between childhood and teen. Still young enough to play on the playground but old enough to start worrying that the slide and swings are a bit uncool. The age where they’re cool in groups but going home to play Minecraft, Barbies, and lego. An age of innocence. And an age where grown adults think nothing of using the slurs of “it”, “half baked maggot”, “thing”, and “the transgender” if you’re not cisgender and/or straight. The adults also refer to a gay teacher as “the queer teacher” and want to get rid of them both, the teacher and twelve year old transgender girl Maddie.

These so called adults have children of their own and not an ounce of empathy between them. They cheerfully choose which children of theirs who will kick “his” ass in the bathroom with the ultimate plan of running her and her father out of town.

 

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Not even half an ounce of empathy

The child in question usually uses the staff washroom, which isn’t a surprise considering the attitude of the locals, but couldn’t find it in the new school and used the girls’ room once. That was enough to get these junior high wannabe adults blathering and egging each other on.

People act like bullying is a childhood issue and forget the kids are learning it from somewhere. This is simply more blatant than usual. How do you think they’d treat a trans adult who dared to move into their town of 492 people?

Sometimes bucolic just means inbred.

If I were her parents, I’d be moving as quickly as I could. The townsfolk would think they won but they’re like the apocryphal chess playing pigeon. Strutting around shitting everywhere, acting like they won. Meanwhile the family would be in better surroundings with better people. They could hardly find worse, no matter what the townspeople think.

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What Seth doesn’t realize is that, overall, 70% are supportive of trans people, wanting the government to do more to help them. Half the population of the States believes they should use the washroom of their gender and 61% in Canada. Seth’s an outlier, a dinosaur in wait of a meteor strike.

I’d love to have a happy ending to this post, everyone loves a happy ending, but the reality is a child is stuck in a town where she is seen as vermin to be destroyed and not a child to be supported. A child who’s in hiding, along with her siblings, for their own protection. All I can suggest is to support the people you know and the people around you. If you see someone who’s trans, simply smile like you would to anyone else. Stand up for her (or him) if she’s being hassled. Be there.

If that’s not enough, you can buy “you can pee next to me” pins. I know there’s a similarly phrased one and I’ve totally lost the phrase. If you know it, feel free to remind me. There are groups like Transgender & Allies Circle of Trust where people offer, in part, support and empathy to newly out trans people. You can attend your local PFLAG meetings and find out what’s happening with the LGBTQ community in your area. They openly accept allies. And you can stand up to people like Seth and Eddie and Kevin. People who think nothing of attacking and harrassing a 12 year old.

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!!!

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.

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