Sunday, April 8, 2018

Love the kid you've got, not the one you wish you had

Parents of LGBTQ kids, or any kids, even young adult kids,

I ask you to listen; to read and to consider:

In recent months, I've had the fortune and misfortunate of being a touchstone for kids whose parents are rejecting them.  I say "fortune" because it is an honor that they would come to me; I say "misfortune" because it saddens me to hear of their struggles with their parents.

Hindsight being what it is, Bulldog and I have looked back on our earlier parenting years (because parenting isn't ever over) and wondered at WHY we were so hard-assed and rigid on some things. We thought that whatever it was that we felt compelled to stand firm on was important...except it seldom was.  Lucky for us, our missteps were not huge enough that we drove our children away completely. We, luckily, didn't drive a wedge so deep that we cracked the relationships irreparably. Fortunately, in the end, love prevailed.

So many of these kids that come to me are not complaining of things like being grounded unfairly, or other such disciplinary issues; rather, they are expressing distress at simply not being accepted, or loved, or talked to.  Don't get me wrong: I know people, young people and our children especially, can be dramatic, irresponsible and unreasonable.  Yet, what these kids are sharing is that they wish they could simply talk to their parents or feel like their parents love them and accept them.

I remember a time when I thought, and Bulldog did too, that if we controlled certain things about our children, we could feel assured that they would be good people, productive people, happy people. But there are some problems with that: control is an illusion, for one. And if we really want to experience some control, the best way is to simply love them and accept them.

When they make choices that we think are silly or ridiculous, selecting a major in college that won't offer job security, picking a hair color that is unprofessional, choosing to not engage in sports because they'd rather pursue something else, dating "beneath" them, we shouldn't force them to our way of thinking. Not only will our forcing them NOT guarantee that their lives will be ok, but we are more likely guaranteeing the opposite; what they NEED from us more than anything is knowing that we love them, even when they choose poorly, or simply differently, than what we think is best.

When they reject some of our values, that doesn't mean they aren't establishing good values of their own.  It only becomes personal if we give them ultimatums: accept my religion or you lose my support as a parent, or accept my version of morality or lose my support as a parent, or accept my version of what is best for you or lose my support as a parent.  If we do that to our children, we hurt them and ourselves no matter how our children chose and here's why:

If they choose differently than what we desire, we lose them because of that damned ultimatum we gave them.  If they choose as we desire, we've still lost them in a way because our love and acceptance is obviously conditional and they know it on some level. The truce will be an uneasy one. On some level, they will understand that our love and acceptance apply as long as they live as we expect them to.  In other words, they may choose as we desire, but will believe that we do not love them unconditionally.  We may protest and claim we DO love unconditionally...except that our actions speak louder than our words.

We're lucky-or maybe we're not just lucky. We're close to all of our kids despite our really rough stretches. In then end, shutting up was one of the best things we did.  Not commenting on choices they made was one of the best things we did. Wanting to know the people that were important to them  was one of the best things we did. The hardest part was letting go of our expectations. Don't we all think that the harder we hold on to them the more likely we are to achieve them?  But that's a myth and we hurt ourselves and our loved ones, our beloved children, when we do that.  Let go of expectations and in the space that is left, just fill it with love-a text message, a phone call, a lunch date, a happy post on Facebook, a family dinner, a game night, a small gift, a small compliment.  The hard part is letting go; it's surprising how easy it is after that.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

The next generation

While DJ's life continues to flourish, I've found myself in the company of young high school students-my students. I work in a high school where I've had the great good pleasure of finding that we have nothing to fear in this up and coming generation: they are far more accepting of others than any other generation that precedes them, I'd wager.

Interestingly, one of my students is trans. He has been transitioning for a little over a year, I believe. His mother is reluctant to let go of the person she thinks is her daughter and baits her son continuously, likely in an effort to convince him that he is a she.  For years, Bulldog and I wondered at how trans kids whose parents were not accepting managed. It's strange to be on the other side of that question. To see the near daily struggles my student experiences is gut-wrenching and truth be told, I know it could STILL be must worse for him, which is horrible to contemplate.  What I mean is that my student, at least, still has a home to return to; his parents don't beat him, to my knowledge. His dad supports him, but is also battling his own substance abuse issues which makes him far less emotionally available to his son. But he is not homeless and his mother, despite her struggles to accept him, tells him she loves him-for that, I personally, am thankful.

But this young man keeps hanging in there and he's shared with me that our class is a haven of sorts to him.  I was thinking about that this morning-how his classmates tend to circle the wagons around him and another student who is vulnerable due to his autism. I've watched these kids look out for each other and especially for their most vulnerable peers and it warms my heart. I am gratified at being able to witness the inner strength of this young man as he continues his transition and journey to personal peace and happiness; I am equally gratified to witness all that is right and wonderful in witnessing how his peers support him.  These young people give me hope!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Trump doing a favor for Trans folks

Whoda thunk it was possible? Our orange haired commander in chief has somehow served to galvanize support IN FAVOR of trans people!!!

What this author finds particularly wonderful is that, of course, that was not his intention.  I had a suspicion that his antics would serve to boomerang, but truthfully, I never saw this coming.

This from the guardian.com:

There was also rare defiance from Republicans in Congress. Senator Orrin Hatch, up for re-election soon in Utah, hardly a liberal bastion, said: “I don’t think we should be discriminating against anyone. Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”

Orrin Hatch speaking in favor of transgender people?  Is it July? Is it snowing where you are 'cause it's a freaking blizzard outside my window in otherwise balmy Virginia.

Trump is being laughed at the world over (again, I know, it just keeps happening) for his wanting to ban trans folks from the US military. 

Canada's military mocks him:  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/07/26/canadian-armed-forces-takes-dig-at-trump-over-transgender-milita_a_23049738/

Bad asses from the Navy are speaking out:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/26/opinions/kristin-beck-on-trump-transgender-tweet-opinion/index.html


And other parts of the world show how, once again, America is far less progressive:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/27/us/world-transgender-ban-facts/index.html


This is all great news for trans folks and for those of us who include trans folks among our loved ones.  DJ is only a few years short of a decade since her official transition and I'm ecstatic about how the world is changing.  We ain't where we should be yet, but Trump is helping to pave the way!!

Thanks President Oompa Loompa  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja8V8Mf4xLs

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.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/trump-administration-rolls-back-protections-for-transgender-students/2017/02/22/550a83b4-f913-11e6-bf01-d47f8cf9b643_story.html?utm_term=.8e8e31199143

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 http://www.transequality.org/documents/state/north-carolina 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 http://www.transequality.org/know-your-rights/passports  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:
https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/lgbt-high-school-students-what-do-if-you-face-harassment-school

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. https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/transgender-people-and-law

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:

http://with-out-conditions.blogspot.com/2015/11/a-cold-dose-of-reality.html?m=1

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.

XOXO
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...
 
http://juliaserano.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/regarding-trans-and-transgenderism.html#more

The Author