Saturday, February 25, 2017

Women's March on Washington

DJ and I took part in the Women's March in DC on January 21, 2017.  DJ brought her adorable new sweetheart, who we'll call Pixey because she is a tiny little brilliant person. We were also joined by Flying Pig, her beloved husband, my two nieces, and my twin cousins.

It was a proud day and demonstrated what women are capable of: true peaceful protest, around the world.  There were all kinds of causes represented there, among them the cause for equality and respect for trans people.

Women are the quintessential and ultimate disenfranchised category of humans the world over. However, we showed our power, accompanied by men who love us, that day. The women there seemed supportive of all other causes where persons are marginalized.

While the Trump administration and various states in the country seek to roll back time and rights for Trans people, and immigrants, women and lower income persons, we spoke that day and we'll keep "speaking." The science march is approaching soon-a great platform to speak about how gender identity has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the science of anatomy and physiology. Gender identity is in the brain-it's science.  The American Medical Association recognizes gender dysphoria as a medical condition.  Modern medicine helps us manage issues with our bodies not acting "correctly" all the time.

My point is this: those millions of us that marched, all around the world, we're not done yet. We'll keep talking, and bugging the ever living crap out of congressmen, and drawing attention to causes that matter.  The transgender issue matters. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Love will trump Trump

Hello anyone who may still be checking this blog,

Unfortunately, once again, Trump has proven again to not be in favor of equal rights for all or for inclusiveness.

What is a transsexual person to do if they are unfortunate enough to live in, oh say, North Carolina where this whole bathroom debacle began? If you're a minor in a public school-and you've been brave enough to request permission to use the restroom that is congruent to your identity, then I can't help but think that you have your parents' support. Let's assume that for the moment. In some states, a person can go through a legal process to have a legal name change and gender assignment change noted on his/her driver's license. That is the case in Virginia, for example. However, in North Carolina, according to a person must have gone through gender reassignment surgery which must be documented via a doctor's note.

Is there a way around that for person's who live in states that have such stringent requirements? Possibly. Oftentimes, a person can get a driver's license by submitting a passport. A passport can be obtained that will reflect a person's gender identity rather than gender by chromosomes.  It may be worth considering applying for a passport and then getting a driver's license. See  for further direction.

Please know you will need to find a doctor to cooberate your condition, "Gender Dysphoria" is the clinical medical name for the "condition." Please accept the author's apologies for being so clinical but going the medical route is often the best way for trans people to get past such ridiculous barriers.

However, if you're stuck, be ready to protect yourself and make those who are responsible for you accountable. For example, if you are in a public school when harassment takes place, the school is responsible for your safety while you are on the premises. The American Civil Liberties Union has some great information in the event you get stuck in a horrible position:

The ACLU also offers additional information for transgender folks so they know their rights. Many times, it's much easier to take advantage of a person who doesn't know his or her rights.

According to this link, most states WILL allow you to change your gender on your driver's license without gender confirmation surgery, as long as you can get a doctor to confirm your gender identity. If you have the ability and opportunity, it's important to start the ball rolling on the issue if you happen to live in a conservative state such as NC where this bathroom discussion is hot and heavy.

If you're frightened, angry, outraged, depressed, insulted, or simply feel numb over Trump's repealing  the wonderful work of President Obama, know you are not alone. Many of us feel the same way and we are ready to fight back.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Without conditions

I've been fortunate enough to have friends in various parts of the country who support DJ and our family.  These fine folks understand the difficulty transsexual persons face in attempting to live their lives amid intolerance, or worse. They share resources and pass on helpful information.

One young woman, a gifted writer in her own right, has been at the forefront of supporting all marginalized persons, and our family in particular.  It so happens that her church friend has a young TS daughter.  This church friend also writes a blog, from the perspective of a mother raising a young child, not a teenage child.  Parents, if you're looking for direction, advice, understanding and support from people who are walking in your shoes, please visit this lovely mother's blog:

I love the title-"Without conditions."  Loving our children, hell, loving each other, should always be without conditions, shouldn't it?

Keep learning, keep reaching out-there are other kids and parents like you and yours that are striving to love without condition.  You are NOT alone.

The Author

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A rose by any other name still smells as sweet

Dear Parents of Trans kids,

In recent weeks, I've been schooled, as it were, on terminology.  If you're wondering, "Is it transgender or transgendered? Or transsexual?" Or if you're wondering if differentiating is even important...consider clicking on the link below to read an intellectual discourse on the topic.  

Like all important issues, there will always be dissension among the ranks regarding how to best define the issue, or describe the individuals who comprise a given group.  It turns out that there are many layers to this issue but the author, Julia, makes a valid point about not getting too mired up in the terminology. Her perspective is refreshingly objective and illuminating. Give it a read...

The Author

Friday, September 11, 2015

The danger of thumbtacks…this was our life at one point.

Another draft that didn't get published while we were in crisis mode…

I feel like a hamster on a treadmill.....running, running, running and not really gettin' anywhere.  And if the scenery were fabulous, I wouldn't care, but it seems I am staring at the four lanes of the beltway a LOT for the past month.  But, I have to remember that there are people who are visiting their children in the hospital and staring at the grim and heartbreaking likelihood that their kids may never come home again.  That certainly keeps everything in perspective for pretty much anyone, doesn't it?

DJ is home in the evenings again, but continues outpatient treatment for her anorexia nervosa. Again, while the 7day/week drive is tough, there is a girl in DJ's group who will need inpatient treatment for months, to the tune of $30,000/month.  WOW!  I think I can physically and monetarily afford what is in store for us, especially considering that DJ's condition really could be worse.  Some people with this disorder simply refuse to eat, even while they're in treatment.

Can you imagine it?  In drug rehab, you simply deny having drugs on the premises, and while they are in rehab, they will be successful in not using.  But when a person refuses to can't make them.  OK, you can make them "surgically" but even then, if the person were hell bent against taking in calories, they could merely rip out the tube.  What do you do then-keep the person sedated until they put on enough weight? could be worse.  DJ finds it difficult to eat appropriate amounts of food that would meet her needs, but she is doing it.  She doesn't refuse the Ensure when she cannot finish a meal, thank goodness, either.

But we did have to alter her "Wall of Randomness." This is a wall in her room on which she has pinned almost anything that she deems important:  ticket stubs, letters, photos, (even one of Abe Lincoln), some 3D objects like a drawer pull, a giant wooden snowflake, and a goldplated shamrock.  She has an autographed picture of Miss Virginia, 2010, who was so supportive when she met DJ.  Miss Virginia had a lifelong struggle with a speech impediment and made her platform anti bullying.  DJ met with her after her speech and shared that she was transgender.  Miss Virginia embraced her and applauded her courage.

Most of the items on the "Wall of Randomness" were held in place with thumbtacks.  Thumbtacks are sharp.  Leaving them in her room would be no more fair to her than leaving brownies out for a person battling obesity, or alcohol for an alcoholic.  When a person is feeling low on reserves, any of us will easily choose a behavior that may temporarily bring us a sense of control, but will hurt us in the end.  We had to remove the tacks.  DJ thought we were overreacting:

"I really doubt that I would go to the trouble of pulling tacks out of the wall."

"Well," her therapist replied, "two weeks ago I wouldn't have thought you would go to the trouble of inhaling bath salts either, and you probably didn't think you would either, but when you felt badly enough, you did."

Ummmm, yeah.  I concur.  Scotch tape will suffice and that is how I spent about 30 minutes of my day today, cursing silently under my breath as I pulled out easily over 100 thumbtacks.....sigh.

It takes a village

Found in the draft archives also….

By no means do I purport to be an expert on children.  In spite of the fact that I have 20 years more experience mothering and caring for children than my youngest sister, Flying Pig, I defer to her, or at least seek her advice on many matters concerning the raising of my kids, especially since the teenage years have descended upon us.  She is, in many ways, a child welfare expert by education, trade and natural ability.  And on occasion, when we doubt ourselves or are frustrated with our offspring, we go to family members who just plain have common sense about life and people, because oftentimes, they can see the forest for the trees far better than Bulldog and I can.

Among the family members whose advice we seek would be Bulldog's brother, the priest.  (I so wish he were a Brother, so I could say, "Bulldog's brother, the Brother.") My lesbian sister, Bean, my sister-in-law from my first marriage, Apple, and a few other sisters-in-law because we admired their loving and fresh approach to children.

Interestingly, we have seldom consulted any of them about how to handle issues related to DJ's coming out, or matters related to her care.   We feel pretty secure about that.  But we weren't sure how to go about informing our younger relatives-not that it was our place to inform them in any event because they were not our  children.  This decision on how, when and if to tell their children was decidedly up to them.  But we were worried about it.  Those first few months, we came up with mental lists of family members trying to decide to tell whom when, and in what order to inform them.   All kinds of factors entered the picture:  what was going on in the other persons' lives emotionally, financially, physically and  how likely would it be that we would run into them in the immediate future?  We were trying to be sensitive to our needs and theirs.

We worried the most about our little nieces and nephews.  We thought that in some cases, this situation might be beyond their parents' comfort levels.  It's one thing for a person to decide for themselves if they can accept this news, and another to make a decision to accept for one's children. And all of this was out of our hands and completely up to our adult family members.  I fretted, admittedly.  But once again, Dad's friend's advice proved to be sound. We had low expectations by preparing ourselves for the possibility of not seeing those members of our family with any frequency.  Once again, we underestimated the love and abilities of other folks and the unabashed genuine-ness that is inherent in nearly all children.

One sister-in-law, Tree-hugger, explained the situation to her son and daughter and their biggest concern was whether or not cousin-JD-now-known-as-cousin-DJ would still want to play with them.  Apple's approach was sheer brilliance and brought me to tears.  She told her two boys a story of a pirate who didn't really want to be a pirate.  He didn't feel like a pirate, didn't like dressing like a pirate and instead felt like he was really a.....let's say, a farmer, since I can't recall the example she used.  She asked her boys what they thought of that.  To them it was a simple proposition: stop being a pirate and be a farmer.  And with that, she explained about DJ.  They too just wanted reassurance that DJ would still want to play with them.

Another sister-in-law, Irish Rose, informed her children in her honest and loving way.  Admittedly, our nephew, who is a miniature philosopher, didn't understand feeling that way because he certainly didn't, but was ok with accepting someone else's feelings about themselves.  Our niece, characteristically loving and exuberant, was thrilled to have another female cousin.

To whom do we give the credit-the parents or the children?  Ideally both.  With all the folks mentioned above, as well as other members of Bulldog's family, my family, and our circle of close friends, there is this idea of finding teachable moments not only with our children, but with our family member's children, or our friend's children.  Not only do we support each other's children, but we may have to direct them, on occasion.  When Bulldog's family is gathered, and mayhem has the potential to ensue because of the sheer numbers that his Italian Catholic family comprise, particularly  when most of our multiple nieces and nephews are gathered under one small roof on Christmas Day, it was commonplace for any one of us to chorale them into helping to do chores, monitoring what they were watching on TV, and telling the older cousins that they got what they deserved when one of the younger cousins bit them since they wouldn't leave the child in question alone.  It's a very tribal way of child rearing and it works.  Moms and Dad can't be "on" all the time to catch our kid committing naughty or nice acts.  And the only way kids can figure out what is considered naughty or nice behavior is FEEDBACK.  As long as we surround ourselves with genetic family and chosen family (AKA:friends) that have some common sense, we can collectively raise our children well.

In my old neighborhood, back when I was a single mom, my good friend, also a single mom, invited us to dinner with her and her boys.  At some point, when I was preoccupied with I don't know what, she gently corrected one of my kids.  Then, later, she apologized to me for it.  It didn't bother me in the slightest.  I told her, "No worries Sue.  I believe in that whole "it takes a village to raise a child thing."

From surviving to thriving

Parents of transgender kids-I've found some unpublished drafts that I'm adding now.  Many were written when DJ was in crisis and my head and blogging ability were taking a backseat to my heart because of DJ's obvious emotional pain.  Sometimes this shit just plain hurts, but here I am five years later, having survived it because my kid survived it.  Hell, she didn't just survive-she's freaking thriving!!!  So take THAT, you haters out there.  There are more of us non-haters than there are of you.

The Author

It's funny how we want to put each other in boxes to be stored on the appropriate shelf.  One of many things I have learned, just in the past 24 hours, is that we are all complex people.  Why we feel a certain way, or act a certain way, seldom is the result of only one factor.  And furthermore, there is seldom only one solution to any problem.  If only it were that easy....

DJ is struggling in a way I've never seen her struggle before.  We would love to believe that there is an easy fix out there....just put her on an anti-depressant, that will solve the problem, or take her off one of the hormones she's on, that should do it.  Maybe if we scheduled her surgery next week she would be all better.  How about we make sure that she never crosses paths with a single person who used to know her as JD, so she won't have to suffer the indignity of now being "invisible" (DJ's word) to those folks.  We had one healthcare provider ready to assume, after not even meeting DJ, that she's bi-polar because she can spend hours composing music.  A blog reader stated that since she'd transitioned, she should be feeling fine because other trans people who have transitioned have been just fine, post transition, as if transition alone is the answer.

Here's the difficult truth:  there is no single answer or solution to finding lasting peace of mind and happiness for DJ.  It's becoming clear, or as clear as it can be after only 48 hours post-crisis, that DJ has pain she must work through, some of which originated years ago when she realized that how she felt about herself didn't match what the world expected of her because her reproductive organs were on the outside of her body rather than on the inside.  Some of the pain is a result of her "invisibility" at school (every time I think of what that must be like, I swear I feel my guts turn to water), and some a result of her trying to figure out who she is.  I'm 46 years old, and I'm still trying to figure it out.  And there may be other issues that need airing too.

Maybe I hover too much.  Maybe our family dynamic needs to shift a bit.  I don't have the answer and certainly anyone who suggests that his/her one path for happiness should work for everyone doesn't have the answer either.  While Bulldog and I know our daughter pretty well, even we accept that we don't have all the answers.  And as Bulldog has pointed out, none of this was in the parenting manual.

And it's not in a transgender manual, or a depression manual, or a self-esteem manual, or a how-to-not-be-invisible-in-high-school manual.  There is no one clear cut answer anywhere or from any one person.  But when you feel "truth" in your gut…go with it.  When the answer or solution feels right, deep in your gut, trust it.