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.

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The sky is falling?

I am not afraid of the trans woman making small talk with me in the elevator. I am afraid of the person yelling that the sky is falling while claiming it’s the trans women’s fault, using poor Chicken Little and his acorn as a prop in his tale. A misdirection.

Trans women are being used in a game of shells.

Look here, the politicians say, see the danger! As the other shells swirl and hide. Look! A trans woman is in the bathroom!

I look and see her minding her own business. The politicians continue to bleat danger and wave their hands.

What are they hiding?

In the States, poor children lose their breakfasts, seniors their lunches, and families their health care… while the President golfs every weekend and lets the country pay the cost so his wife can live in gilded splendour.

Meanwhile an orange bus putts along the country, ignoring biology and bleating “peaceful” hatred. It’s freeze peach, they say. Trans people are the liars, they say. But they aren’t, so who’s the one who’s lying?

And the shells continue to spin and the sky stays firmly in place. And trans women continue to die from carefully targeted hatred.

And Chicken Little shows off his acorn as proof and the ignorant listen.

Remembrance Day revisited…

CN: discussion of violence and prejudice

I stand on my balcony and can see Lake Ontario. On a clear day we stand on the shore and look across the lake at Buffalo. This has never scared me until now.

I went online yesterday and my news feed was flooded with stories of hatred and violence. A friend of mine has an openly gay ten year old who was terrified to go to school… to the point of stress vomiting. He’s been taunted since kindergarten, this fear is something new.

Another friend of mine had a pick up truck, with a poorly shored confederate flag, nearly hit him at high noon. The driver stopped and jumped out screaming “fucking faggot” before heading into the nearby post office. My friend wasn’t sure who he was more scared for, himself or the solitary black woman operating the office. Luckily both were fine.

After my friend posted, one of his friends chimed in to say she’d just had passengers tell her to flash them in order to get a tip. Pro tip, that’s not how taxis work. But maybe that’s how they work in Trump’s new United States… if the driver is female and the passengers are male.

Yet more friends are panicking about getting IUDs inserted before January 20th or getting married before that time. One’s researching nursery schools in Canada while others half joke about marrying a Canadian citizen.

I’d expected the hatred and violence to start slow and increase. Instead it poured out as if a flood gate was opened, starting with a bottle bashed over a gay man’s head because this is Trump’s America now. It moved on to school children drawing and shouting “build a wall” while their classmates cried. To high school students scribbling racial slurs and graffiti about white pride. To grown men harassing and groping women because it’s their right under Trump.

And, through it all, Trump stayed silent.

Well, not exactly silent. He complained about people being mean to him on Twitter and placed Ben Carson, the man who thinks the pyramids were grain silos, into the position of the head of the Department of Education. The masses will now become even more uneducated but they’ll know the Bible right down to every last hate filled corner. I don’t think the more positive and altruistic verses will have a place in Trump’s world.

I’m terrified for my friends. For my black and brown friends and my gay and pan friends, for my friends who “don’t pass” and my friends who do, for my friends who hold their LGBTQ children close and hope for the next four years. And I’m scared for those of us living in the US’s shadow, because if Trump starts lobbing bombs, just because they’re there, that border is not going to hold back retaliatory radiation.

On this cold and quiet Remembrance Day, I feel like history is repeating itself.

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Poppies under the full moon

Take Back The Night!

She bent down… just like this. It was obvious she was doing it for me. Then she said “I’m not that kind of girl”.

I’d dressed up a bit for this event. Put on make up, wore a sparkly shirt, I even added a rainbow bead necklace a friend just gave me. Listening to the two men talking nearby made me wish I could scrub off my face and put on something a little more ugly… a lot more invisible.

When she breaks up with her boyfriend, I’m totally going for her.

There was no indication that he saw her as a person in her own right. She moved solely for him and, when her boyfriend was done it was going to be his turn to have her.

But let me ask u this then let’s say I ask u to a dance and it’s a dream I really wanted and u tell me no and I go on a killing spree what would you say was the trigger point to my anger.

~ actual question asked to a friend ~

The Take Back the Night event started in an auditorium full of people… young and old… male and female. There were booths around the room where I got candy, a pen, and an apple. A Metis drumming group played at the front. I admired one lady’s sequined hat and then it was time to sit.

#webelieveyou

Story after story, in video and in person, of women who’d been raped, assaulted, molested, and beaten. Story after story where they were disbelieved because he wouldn’t do that. Story after story where women went to the police to be empowered and take back their right to bodily autonomy, only to have the police fail them too.

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I was photobombed 🙂

My ex had a favourite position, one which made it so I couldn’t speak and couldn’t push him away. I couldn’t change my mind midway because “no” wasn’t an option. I told him this in tears and suggested a hand touch which would mean “no”. He ignored it… twice. That was when I realized the ignoring was deliberate, he liked that I was struggling… that I couldn’t stop him. I refused to get into that position after that and he sulked like a small child being told “no” to seconds of dessert. I’m a person, not a serving of cake.

Whatever we wear
Where ever we go
Yes means yes
And no means no!

We spilled out of the auditorium, a large jubilant, defiant crowd… hemmed in by a strip of yellow caution tape and guarded by police. Pouring onto the road, chanting almost incomprehensible words. Did we want safety or ice cream? The echoes sounded like both.

Two, four, six, eight
No more violence
No more rape!

I walked home after the event with a neighbour. Cheers and laughter erupted ahead of us, followed by a faint “no-oo”. My heart felt like it was slamming against my ribs and I rocked as I walked. What could we do against a crowd? Both our phones were dead and he’s shorter and more slight than me. The soccer field ahead was lit; it soon became apparent a goal had been scored. My relief was instantaneous.

There were children scattered through the walk, blowing whistles and waving hand made signs. For now it’s just fun. How long will it take for the message to sink in? Will they be the change for the future? Are there enough of them?

Michelle? You go out for walks on your own? Do you really think it’s safe?

I used to. Maybe someday I will again.

Words kill…

It could have been me.

I’ve seen these words written so many times this week. And it’s true, it could have been me. Not at the Pulse; the chances of me being in a club are nil, especially at 2am. I’m more of the ‘cuddle and read at the library’ type (seriously, someone needs to make a cuddle and read club). But the LA pride parade was a target as well and, beyond that, where else? Is it safe to attend pride days at amusement parks? PFLAG meetings? The Trans Night of Remembrance services?

Jeremy and I were on the bus to our local Orlando vigil on Monday when zie turned to me and said, “I bet someone’s going to shoot up one of the vigils.”

“It won’t be ours,” I assured zir. “Our city’s too small.”

Not the best reassurance but it was all I had. Then we got there and zie saw the crowds. Instantly Jeremy became agitated, snapping at me for not knowing exactly what was going on and terrified I was going disappear and leave zir alone in the crowd.

“I can’t do this,” Jeremy admitted a few minutes later. “I’m scared I’m going to be too loud and stand out too much and look different. I’m too anxious. I really need to go home now. Please can I go home?”

I tried to get zir to watch videos on zir phone until zie calmed down and offered a breathing app but Jeremy was too scared. Zie blamed zir high school teachers for picking at zir every time zie stood out in some way and I agree that didn’t help. But I also blame every single person who blatantly stared at zir at the store and on the sidewalk. Every rude comment yelled from cars. Every conversation and discussion that treated zir rights as different and a bit less. Each month my peacock of a teen fades a bit more. And in this space, where Jeremy should have felt zir safest, zie was scared.

Words kill in a myriad of ways.

I have spent my whole life being labelled as different, weird, strange, odd, quirky, freak, a loner. I sat in a therapist’s office yesterday and detailed the bullying I remembered from school, from the little I actually remember about school. I’ve blocked so much of it. She’s been a therapist for years. I figured she’d heard just about everything. Besides, what I went through wasn’t that bad. I’m struggling because I’m weak. I’m sure people have been through a lot worse. Then I watched as her face registered shock and horror. At the end, she went through all the paperwork I’d filled out and tallied the results. Severe depression. Severe anxiety. Extreme risk of suicide.

“Mom, there’s only two times you’re allowed to jump off our balcony.” Jeremy told me. Zir voice was serious. “If you learn how to fly or if there’s a zombie right behind you.”

I stay because there’s family who love me and friends who care and three snuggly cats I’d confuse and upset. Maybe someday I’ll stay because I matter, maybe someday those words will mean something. But that’s not today. I’m tired right down in my soul… in the deepest part of myself. I’m tired of always being a few steps off. Even in the LGBTQ community, I don’t exactly fit. I’m ace. I got married long before I’d ever heard the word asexual and long before I’d ever fallen in love.

If you’ve never been in love, how do you know what it is? How much stronger is it than friendship? What if you’re friends and he loves you? I figured it must be love and tried my hardest… but it wasn’t. And then I fell in love with my best friend, who was non-binary at the time and then male. I always figured I was straight because I look at pictures of men and think they’re cute and cuddly but don’t feel the same urge to snuggle with women. But I also think androgynous people are cute… and friends. I’m sexually adverse to the thought of a vulva but sexually indifferent to the thought of a penis and in both cases would much rather snuggle. And how do you sort out sexual orientation when you’ve only been in love once? That’s about when I figure, fuck it, I’ll just get another cat instead of dating.

They were offering free pins for LGBTQ people and allies at the vigil on Monday. I searched through but nothing really fit me. What I needed was a “confused as hell but still here” pin. Which pretty much sums up my whole life.

Words kill in another way. Sometimes the hatred blows outwards instead of in.

People are baffled by how or why the shooter could have shot up the bar he frequented. Who knows why? Well, maybe it’s because he lived in a culture that considers LGBTQ people to be lesser and regularly talks about shooting them. I’ve lost count of the number of quotes I’ve seen this month alone that read along the lines of “If I see some freak in the washroom with my wife/daughter, I’ll shoot them!”

Maybe he felt trapped. Trapped by a society that sees gay people as different and by a state that fights for less protections… less rights. Trapped by a family who based his worth on the wife he needed to produce the son who’d carry his name. Maybe he felt worthless because of everything he read, saw and observed over the years. Countless school yard slurs, jokes, and manly put downs. Maybe he was angry because he went to the bar and saw everyone else having a good time… and how dare they be allowed to be open and themselves while he couldn’t. He couldn’t know their stories… their families… their pasts… but he could see their happiness. I have yet to see an article which talks about him being happy. He couldn’t change society or his family but he could buy a gun. And the society that taught him to hate handed him one. I don’t have much sympathy for someone who destroyed so many lives but I do want society to stop producing more of him.

Words kill. We need to stop telling people… telling children… that they need to be tougher, stronger, and braver. That they’re hurting until their souls bleed because they’re too weak. We need to fix society, just like Leelah asked a year and a half ago. How many more will die before we succeed?

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Tears…

Jeremy loves to discuss American politics. Zie’s obsessed with the upcoming elections, watching the Young Turks every night and fervently explaining to me all the reasons why Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be elected. I’ve heard it all… voter fraud… possible indictment… media bias… I think the only thing zie’s missed is her defending a rapist back in the 70’s. Please, no one tell zir about that. I don’t need hours more of explanations.

What zie’s not understanding is it doesn’t matter who gets elected. Okay, it matters but the election will not change the fact that the United States is a dynamite warehouse covered in tar paper, situated beside a lighter factory run by pyromaniacs. It’s not a matter of if there’ll be an explosion, it’s when and how wide will the wreckage scatter.

It didn’t start with Obama being elected, the hatred of anyone deemed “different” was already there. But having a black man leading the country gave racists a focal point and a target. Those of you who want to argue that people simply dislike his politics might want to take a wander over to Malia’s 15th birthday page where people are hoping she gets raped to death.

It didn’t start with Trump either. He didn’t fabricate a culture of racist, homophobic, transphobic bigots out of nothing. They were already there, sporting their one man/one woman marriage pins and kicking their trans kids to the curb. He gave them a voice and a chance to congregate outside of KKK meetings.

Today is Jeremy’s 19th birthday. We celebrated yesterday with a 7am wake up to open zir presents, a sunny afternoon spent with family, and a gooey chocolate cake for dessert. I woke up this morning to news of the Orlando shooting. Twenty, then fifty dead. Fifty-three injured. All because one man saw two men kissing a few months ago and didn’t like it. A short while later came the news about another man being apprehended with explosives in his car… on his way to the LA Pride Parade. Half my friends are in shock and crying “there’s nowhere we can be safe”. And, once again, my arms aren’t anywhere near big enough for them all.

One fall evening, I sat in my living room and quietly cried while I watched one year old Jeremy toddling around with zir baby doll. I’d just seen the news about Matthew Shepard and couldn’t fathom how people could hate that much. Were they going to hate my child too? And I sit here today and realize that, yes, they can and they will… without even giving themselves a chance to know zir.

Jeremy doesn’t see a point in naming zir sexual orientation. Zie’ll fall in love with who zie falls in love and it shouldn’t matter to anyone else. Jeremy also uses three pronouns for zirself; he, zie, and she… while not seeing the point in gender either. Zie’d much rather discuss politics, computers, or video games. In an ideal world it wouldn’t matter. Sadly we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where Jeremy has to add “if it’s safe for me there” to zir dreams of “someday I’d like to travel to…” And, honestly, the United States is scratched off zir list and has been for a while.

Today I’m going to split the last wedge of chocolate cake with Jeremy and give zir a huge hug. We’ll face tomorrow when it gets here.

Colin and zir phone attachment