Saturday, November 26, 2011

How many suitcases are you carrying?

Bulldog and I had a big heart to heart today.  I simultaneously love and hate heart to heart discussions.  They are gut wrenching if you do it right because you are forced to look at yourself and see how your faults and goof-ups have hurt someone else.  Plus, you have to go coal mining for your own hurts that may be buried deep below a layer of impressive bedrock that under normal circumstances  only a few tons of dynamite can breach.

Like so many other people, the seeds of discontent are sown long before we met or joined our lives with our spouses or significant others.  We are all the products of our upbringings and our pasts, regardless of how much we may want to believe otherwise.

I remember a guy I knew in rookie school years ago, whose name was actually Leif Ericson.  I kid you not when I say his brothers' names were Eric and Thor.  His parents either had an incredible sense of humor or were inordinately proud of their Nordic heritage, in spite of being at least a few generations removed from that part of the world.  I'm rambling...Anyway, Leif informed me that he didn't like dating women with "baggage." Good luck with that because all of us are carrying baggage-some may be lucky to tote a carry on, and others are stuck with steamer trunks, like only the wealthy on the "Titanic" would own because they paid someone else to carry them.

Granted, some of us want to clutch our baggage and wear it like a shield.  Maybe we think it will protect us from further hurt.  Some of us pretend that the baggage doesn't exist, in spite of the fact that our shins are black and blue from repeatedly having the allegedly non-existant baggage knocking us about every time we attempt to take a step forward in our lives.  Naturally, it would be better to acknowledge the existence of our baggage while simultaneously not wearing it like a freaking medal, but that is a tough act of balancing.  Yet, if we don't find a way to do this, we may inadvertently ruin our own chances of happiness and pass our baggage on to our children.  My children hope to inherit money and some of my belongings, but I am certain a complete set of matched emotions wrapped in soft-sided exteriors with hidden zippers is not what they had in mind even if it does have wheels and a handle.  Just because it's equipped with handy tools to tote the thing doesn't mean they want my luggage to haul around, if they can avoid it.

OK, in some cases, it's already too late.  I've given my kids some baggage already.  Hopefully, it's just enough to contain their deodorant, soap and a toothbrush and nothing more.  But, now that I am completely aware of my propensity to drag around my baggage and that I may be contributing to the size of their baggage, maybe I can limit my future contributions to their load.

For instance,  accepting my kids as they are is a great start.  Realizing that we are not extensions of each other and that we are wholly separate from each other is integral.  When my child says that his birth certificate is wrong and we must stop saying, "him" and start saying, "her" I must respect that.  If she is wholly separate from me, then her feelings about herself are no reflection on me whatsoever;  my refusal to accept her feelings, however, is.  If it turns out that she didn't understand herself well, and by some strange reason, decides to go back to the original "him," it is STILL no reflection on me that I honored the first request.  It's not as if I was a fool to respect his wishes, or as if I failed because I did so.

Sometimes, the best way to let a person find out if they are making a mistake, or are tripping on the most profound truth of their life is to let them take the risk.  As parents, we often add to our kids' baggage by not letting them do that.  We either want to protect them from failure, or disappointment, or what we deem "reality." Rather, let us give them the tools to pick themselves up when they fail.  Not if they fail, because they will fail at something.  So, rather than make them feel like failures to adequately prepare them for life (a perspective I think of as crap) or not letting them ever fail, why not, instead of giving them luggage, give them a luggage CART by letting them risk rejection, failure, small measures of ridicule or disappointment, so that they can learn important lessons about themselves. Lessons like, it doesn't matter if I get knocked down 5 times as long as I stand up 6 times.  Or, finding out that the closing of a door may be the only way we find the fabulous opportunity waiting behind the stunning bay window.

But our best bet of not significantly adding to our child's baggage, in this author's humble opinion, is to really see our children as wholly separate from ourselves.  We often want to project ourselves onto them.  Many times, we do this out of love, but when inappropriately applied, love can act as a tourniquet.  Maybe it's because it's not truly love to begin with-it's our refusal to accept that the person in front of us is not us but merely came from us.  The degree of how different from us they are can and will vary
W I D E L Y from family to family and from child to child.  If our child is goth, it doesn't necessarily mean a thing about us as parents.  If your child is gay, you did not fail in some way.  If your child was born in the wrong body, you accepting their information is not a reflection of you as being overly permissive, or immoral, or anything like that.

In my line of work, we sometimes cross paths with people who are drug seekers because they are addicts.  Usually, people seek pain meds because they truly are in pain and need them.  Sometimes, as in the case of addicts, they are giving us a convincing story so that we will give them morphine.  Many of my peers consider themselves fools if a patient tricks them into giving pain meds and finding out later that they are what we call "frequent flyers" and are well known addicts by the staff in the emergency room.  But if I believe a patient's story and all other indicators seem to point to the truth of her declaration, and later it turns out to not be true, for whatever reason, I am not the idiot.  I simply believed the person.  Whether or not the person was truthful, or misinformed, or flat out lying is not the point.  My acceptance, or lack thereof  is solely a reflection of me.  Whether or not the person deserves my acceptance is not a reflection of me AND is a slippery slope to making an arrogant assumption. And an even more arrogant assumption is thinking that we know the person better than they know themselves.

"It's just a phase" or "She's just trying to get attention" or "He's confused and doesn't know what he wants"-how do we really know we're right?   And in the case of our kids, if we're wrong about our assumptions about them, that can lead to some pretty deep hurt.....and baggage.

Lately, DJ's hair and make-up and music are becoming less and less to my taste.  I can hope that it's just a phase, but she might end up thinking a mohawk that stands ten inches off the top of her head is a great look for her, even when she's 30.  Lordy, I hope not, but if she does, she's not me.  Her decision to look like a 1980's throw-back truly is not a reflection of me.  Granted, while I may not want to be seen with her, I won't give in to that.  Because really, why wouldn't I want to be seen with her?  Because I would be worried what other people will think....of me.  I might SAY I'm worried what they think of her, but only because I'm seeing her as an extension of me.  Which she isn't.

So, let's do ourselves, and our kids, and the world for that matter, a big favor.  Let us admit to having our own baggage, first.  Next, let us recognize that our baggage can cause us to contribute to our childrens' baggage.  After that, let us accept that we and our children are separate from each other.  Once we get that down, accepting is pretty easy.  You're you.  I'm me.  I can and will love you no matter how different from me you are.  Period.  Isn't that what we all want?  I know I do.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Top 10, not in any specific order

1. I am thankful that DJ turned out to be the daughter I always wanted.

2. I am thankful that DJ's brothers love her as much as ever so that my three kids remain as tightly bound to each other as ever.

3.  I am thankful that my two sons are the kind of young men who take courses like "Women's Studies" in college, aren't afraid of telling their mother they miss her, and choose strong, independent women to love.

4.  I am thankful for DJ's exuberance and mild manner.

5.  I am thankful that Bulldog is both a "promise keeper" and the kind of man who believes that even at 49 he can continue to grow to be a "strong, mighty oak."

6.  I am thankful that in spite of many people abusing the heck out of the 911 system, that because of the job I'm in, I am afforded the opportunity to cross paths with people at their worst moments and witness how, in spite of their obvious hardship, that love can truly conquer all.

7.  I am thankful that this old body can still DO my job, even if it's just barely.

8.  I am thankful to live in a country where I am free to write what I think, believe, and feel, and not fear persecution, prosecution, torture or death for my writings, my thoughts, or my beliefs; I am also thankful for the sacrifices of men and women who, in the past and present, continue to ensure my freedoms.

9.  I am thankful to find that in spite of there being an incredible number of mean people in the world, that their are more than enough lovely people whose goodness outshines their darkness.

10.  I am thankful for the invisible safety net which cradles me and mine and is comprised of family, friends, coworkers, blog readers, therapists, doctors, teachers, guidance counselors and pets.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fixing my CNN mistake

 Faithful followers, it seems that the Anderson Cooper/CNN special on transgender kids was shown in the afternoon of the day that I presented the information.  So sorry about the goof-up so I will pass the buck and say it's all Flying Pig's fault!!  ha ha.

If you would like to get a good glimpse of it, however, go to the link below where you will be introduced to a sweet little girl who is explaining the inner workings of her doll house. She is charming and every bit the little girl she knows she is, regardless of what her original birth certificate says.

Apparently, a documentary movie, "Trans" is in the works and is set to be released in 2012.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Does your kid make you speak Yiddish?

Little Miss Thing, aka DJ, is quite full of herself of late.  She must always get the last word in, no matter the discussion.  She's so certain she is right and we are overreacting.  Darn blessed big for their britches.

She is in her junior year in high school and in America, that is a big year to finish getting your standardized testing done, adding extracurricular activities and memberships to important organizations to your resume.  In short, since most college applications are submitted either the fall or winter of one's senior year, the junior year is one of the last opportunities to really shine so that colleges will accept you and hopefully offer you money to attend their school.

DJ is a musical artist, or shall I say AR-TEEST, emphasis on the last syllable since she's a bit hoity toity about this endeavor.  I don't mean to say she is arrogant about her abilities, because that is not the case.  But she does subscribe to the notion that the arts are of more importance than your typical academics comprised of the histories, the maths and the dreaded english classes.  Luckily, DJ has a gifted brain.  She can hear a lecture and commit the details to memory.  Were this not the case, and she actually had to refresh with what the rest of us call studying, she would fail most of her classes, abominably.  And this quality lends itself well to standardized tests so she knocks the ball out of the park on those too.

Have I ever mentioned she is a genetic anomaly?  And I don't mean because she's transgender but because her intellect is NOT a result of any genetic contributions from either side of the family.  Well, that's not true:  Flying Pig and DJ's aunt in England, who we'll call Apple because she's the only normal fruit from two generations of her family tree, are both exceptionally bright women.  But neither of these women were direct contributors to DJ's specific DNA chain, so I have no idea where she gets her abilities.  But I digress....

In addition to being remarkable at academics, she is quite gifted musically.  Both her birth father and I can lay claim to some of that, with his contribution being more important than mine, genetically speaking.  Anyway, when she came out to us, she demonstrated this remarkable ability to compose music for orchestras.  She had no training in this area other than some guitar and drum lessons and a Music for Dummies book I purchased for her.  Nonetheless, when she blossomed as a young woman, so too did her music ability blossom.  Since then, she has composed various sonatas, symphonies and the like and she has branched out into pop music too to include techno, horror of horrors.  But she enjoys it and has posted some of her stuff on YouTube.  The folks in Spain love her apparently.

AND she has set her sights on attending the Juilliard School of the Arts in New York City, a world renowned institution.  As such, it is incredibly difficult to get into this school.  An applicant's talents must be incredible, needless to say.  And I imagined that her grades would need to be equally phenomenal.  That is not the case, entirely, apparently.  When DJ researched Juilliard with a guidance counselor at school, there was less emphasis placed on grade point average at Juilliard than at other universities where the emphasis is more on academics and where talent is secondary.

She triumphantly informed me of this recently.  AS IF knowing this, I would allow her to spend less time on her academics so she could spend more time creating, writing, playing and recording her music.  Ummmm, I don't think so.

Then, two nights ago, when DJ was inducted  in to the National Honor Society (high five for DJ) DJ poo-poo'ed the whole thing initially.  She wanted to dress in her edgy fashion for the ceremony complete with leggings and Chuck Taylor sneakers under her dress.  When I explained to her that this is a ceremony that should be afforded the respect and dignity of proper attire she responded with her typical air of dismissiveness.

"People my age don't really care about things like that," the lovely DJ tells me.

"Yeah, well, people my age are the ones who let you into college and the honor society and we do care about things like that," I retorted.

Then, later in the evening, she said something about the National Honor Society certificate being "just a piece of paper."  Her artistic thumbing her nose at convention kind of rubbed me the wrong way, so in front of her I said to Bulldog, (already knowing the answer, because any good attorney will tell you to never ask a question to which you don't already know the answer) "Were you in the Honor Society?"

"No, I wasn't. I didn't have the grades."

"Neither was I and I wanted to be," at which point I turn to DJ and explain to her that it is insulting to both the NHS, and to those who can't be in it, to dismiss membership and the paper that certifies membership as "just a piece of paper."  Somehow, we got through to her.

Maybe she's just trying on this persona like she tries on her other more edgy outfits just so she can find out if she likes it or not.  Maybe she'll discard this know-it-all, I'm-too-artistic-to-be-bothered-with-these-bourgois-academic-concerns like she outgrew her love of super flowery attire.  In the meantime, I wish she would just do her freakin' homework and clean her bathroom without my having to nag.  Then I remind myself, "Be patient, she'll only be a teenager for another three and a half years."  Oy Vey!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A special message for young trans folks

Dear Beloved Child,

I say beloved because you are special and lovable exactly as you are.  I was thinking about this today when the song, "You are beautiful" by Christine Agullara came on the radio.  The words are so breathtaking and inspiring.  If you haven't heard it, make a point of finding it and listening to every word.

She says it so much better than I ever could and if you could just believe how true her words are, maybe it well help you to feel strong on those days when you feel lost, or like you don't fit in, or may never be accepted.

Maybe your homelife isn't happy.  Perhaps your parents will not accept your truth.  Or maybe they support you, but finding that same support in school is not possible right now.  I wish, so many of us wish, that we could make everything ok for you right now.  But to borrow the words from the movement on YouTube, please know:


There will come a day when you will be surrounded by people who love you and care that you're happy.  If those people are not the family you are born into, they will be the family you choose.  Until that time, you must, for your very survival physically and emotionally, dig deep and look for small pockets of happiness where-ever you can find them.  A smile from a perfect stranger, encouragement from a teacher, a hug from a friend, the sun streaming through the clouds, the bustle of a city, or the quiet birdsong in the morning-these small things will sustain you until your life is in a place where you can be who you are, love who you wish, present in the manner that makes you happy.  

I don't know the realities of your lives, those of you who must remain closeted for your own safety. But I can imagine how hard it must be to just be yourself. Fitting into this world where so much of who we are is judged by how we look is hard for many of us.  Your road is not an easy one, and may be considerably longer than mine, but rest assured, many of us will be, at the very least, your occasional travel companions as we struggle to be accepted and loved.  And when our paths diverge, I, like so many others, will be thinking of you, wishing you well, hoping for a happier tomorrow for you and loving you for your courage, whether we know you or not.  "You are beautiful in every single matter what they say....words can't bring you down."  For more hope-please check out:

Trans kids/teens-check out CNN tonight

Flying Pig has been sending me everything that crosses her desk regarding LGBT issues.  A big shout out and thanks to her for that!!!  We love you Flying Pig!

CNN is airing a special tonight at 8 pm eastern standard time on transgender kids and teens.  My guess is if you don't catch it tonight, you may be able to catch it on CNN's webpage.  In the meantime, if you click on this link, there are other televised features focusing on this subject, as well, that you might want to view.  It's encouraging to see how tactfully the reporters are, how understanding many families and communities are.

Family Acceptance Project-LGBT teens, check this out

Family Acceptance Project

SAN FRANCISCO – NOVEMBER 15, 2011 - New research has found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth who attend middle or high schools with Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) have better mental health as young adults, are less likely to drop out of high school, and more likely to attend college. Published in the current issue of Applied Developmental Science, this is the first study to show that GSA participation is related to long-term benefits. The study, High School Gay–Straight Alliances (GSAs) and Young Adult Well-Being, is based on data from the Family Acceptance Project’s survey of LGBT young adults, which examined the school-related experiences of 245 LGBT young adults, ages 21 to 25.  

Prior research has shown that LGBT youth are at risk for school victimization based on their sexual orientation and gender expression; that LGB youth and young adults report higher levels of depression and other mental health problems than heterosexual peers in a range of studies; and that LGBT school bullying is related to compromised academic achievement. However, until now, there have been few indicators to show whether positive school-based supports can help prevent these negative outcomes in young adulthood. In this new study, the positive impact of GSAs was particularly strong when students viewed their Gay-Straight Alliances as effective in promoting a safer school environment.

The study also shows that the benefits of Gay-Straight Alliances diminish as levels of LGBT school victimization increase; that is, the protective nature of GSAs is not enough to overcome the negative impact of LGBT victimization on young adult mental health. Thus, the authors document that Gay-Straight Alliances cannot be proposed as the sole solution for creating safer school climates for LGBT youth. Instead, schools need to implement other efforts to reduce anti-LGBT bias in schools in combination with the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances, such as enumerated anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies, teacher training on how to intervene in school harassment related to sexual orientation and gender expression, and an LGBT-inclusive curriculum.

These findings are of particular importance in light of recent tragic incidents of school violence – such as the murder of Larry King in 2008 and the multiple suicides of young men perceived to be gay in 2010 and 2011 who experienced high levels of LGBT school victimization. Further, several schools and districts continue to attempt to ban the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances (e.g., school board of Nassau County in 2009; Okeechobee High School in 2008 [both in Florida]; Flour Buff High School in Corpus Christi, TX, in 2011), even though GSAs are protected by the 1984 Federal Equal Access Act. In addition, the Anoka-Hennepin School District has a policy that requires staff to “remain neutral in matters related to sexual orientation including but not limited to student led discussion” that belies the purpose of GSAs which is to provide a supportive school-related environment where students can learn about and openly discuss and educate the school community on LGBT issues.

Said co-author Russell Toomey: “Given the recent attention to tragic deaths by suicide related to anti-LGBT school bullying over the past year, our research documents that having Gay-Straight Alliances in schools is an important way to boost mental health and academic achievement for LGBT young people. However, Gay-Straight Alliances should not be perceived as the only vehicle for creating safer school climates for students – clearly, our findings document that other LGBT-positive supports need to be implemented in schools for LGBT students to thrive.”

Noted co-author Stephen T. Russell: “This study adds to the mounting evidence that youth-led clubs are important for healthy development – especially for youth at risk. For LGBT youth, high school gay-straight alliances make a significant positive difference.”

Dr. Caitlin Ryan, study co-author and Director of the Family Acceptance Project at SF State University added, “This new study on the benefits of GSAs to health and education adds to our growing understanding of the importance of social environments and the need to provide institutional support for LGBT youth to promote well-being in adulthood.”

Citation: Toomey, R. B., Ryan, C., Diaz, R. M., & Russell, S. T. (2011). High school gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and young adult well-being: An examination of GSA presence, participation, and perceived effectiveness. Applied Developmental Science, 15(4),1-11.

About the Family Acceptance Project
The Family Acceptance Project is a research, intervention, education and policy initiative that is designed to: 1) improve the health, mental health, and well-being of LGBT children and adolescents; 2) strengthen and help ethnically and religiously diverse families to support their LGBT children; 3) help LGBT youth to stay in their homes to prevent homelessness and the need for custodial care in the foster care and juvenile justice systems; 4) inform public policy and family policy; and 5) develop a new evidence-based, family model of wellness, prevention, and care to promote well-being and decrease risk for LGBT youth. For more information, please visit

Monday, November 14, 2011

LGBT Friends-the Feds want to hear what you have to say :)

Dear Bloggers,

Flying Pig has graciously shared this info so that any of you who may have access to the opportunity below can hopefully attend. 

To anyone who has ever had an experience in the health care system…Tell HHS about it!

November 14, 2011
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is coming to your area to ask for experiences the LGBT community has had with medical providers. The Task Force has been working closely with HHS to make health care fair and inclusive for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Our advocacy teams have been working hard to tell HHS what is broken about the Health Care system for LGBT people, but we don’t have enough stories of real people. Now it’s your turn to tell them what the LGBT community needs. Take a look at the cities and dates below and RSVP today!
If you are a patient, make sure to share any positive or negative experiences you’ve had as an LGBT person going to the doctor (insurance claims, front office staff interactions, experiences with medical personnel, etc.). If you work in the medical field, talk about best practices for LGBT health, especially if you’ve implemented them successfully.
If you find yourself close to one of these listening sessions you should attend and make your voice heard!
Seattle Monday, 11/14 @ 1pm: RSVP to
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
2201 6th Avenue, Suite 204
Seattle, Washington 98121
Denver Tuesday, 11/15 @ 10am: RSVP to
Founders Room, Mile High United Way
2505 18th Street
Denver, CO 80211
Portland Tuesday, 11/15@ 1pm: RSVP to
Gus Solomon Courthouse, Courtroom 71 (7th floor)
620 SW Main Street
Portland, Oregon 97205

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quoting The Wizard of Oz

Are you considering telling your family about your true gender identity, but are scared?  Is it possible that you may be wrong about their reaction?  Far be it for me to assume I know anyone's family better than they do, but it might be worth taking some time to consider if you might be more fearful than you need to be.

If your reaction is an immediate one of, "If I tell my loved ones, I will be certain to face:  physical or emotional harm, or being evicted from my home, then perhaps you are wise to refrain.  BUT, and this is a big BUT, if you are feeling even a bit uncertain about how your loved ones will take the news, perhaps there is more potential for acceptance than you've considered.  Perhaps the possible, but maybe not probable fear of rejection is guiding your decision making process more than it should.  I say "perhaps" because, at least intellectually, I understand the very real fear of being cast out from your family.  But if we let fear make all of our decisions for us, our lives will not be as full as they could be.

If you want to come out to your loved ones, but don't know how, perhaps breaking the process down into baby steps would be helpful.  Think long and hard about your family members.  Is there even one family member who is open minded and supportive that you are close to?  Is that family member well accepted by other family members?  It doesn't have to be your parents.  A sibling, an aunt, a cousin, a close family friend-any of them will suffice.  You break the news to the safest person first-IF you can trust that they won't blab before you are ready.  Then, once you have even one person in your corner, you bring that person with you to tell the other family members.  You DO NOT have to inform everyone but keep in mind that whomever you do tell your news to must be trustworthy enough to keep your news private until such time you decide to share with more people.

You could put "feelers" out first.  For instance, you could broach the subject with something like:  "I was watching this show the other day about transgendered people.  It was really interesting and I really felt for people who feel like they are stuck in the wrong body."  Then, watch the person's reaction.  If they react only slightly like, "You mean transvestites?  I thought they were kinda sick," don't give up yet.  This person just might need more education.  You could respond with something like, "Actually, it's not the same thing.  Transvestites just like to "pretend" if you will.  Transgender is a gender identity issue that even science is saying is valid."  If the person seems interested, or even not freaked out completely, believe it or not, there may be hope.

Let's be realistic-this is going to be strange news to hear.  But it's only strange because it's something we're not expecting or used to dealing with.  So, that being said, a person is going to react at first.  That alone is not reason enough for you to stay closeted.  It's the size of the reaction, or the nature of the reaction that can guide your decision.  A significantly angry, explosive or offended reaction might be your warning that this person is not a safe person with whom you can share your truth.  However, a denying kind of response, a "you've got to be kidding" reaction, or even a "is this a sick joke" reaction might just be the listener's knee jerk reaction to some unusual news but may not indicate that the person will reject you outright.

Only you can decide what will make you happy.  How you live your truth is a very personal and individual decision.  That are so many shades of grey here.  If you feel happy and content with whatever measures you've taken to feel comfortable with who you are, then that may be enough for you.  But, if you feel closeted and it's making you incredibly unhappy and the only reason you haven't shared your struggles is simple fear, not a fear that you have investigated and found to be real and not imagined, then perhaps you might consider inching towards telling that one safe person, to start.

Either way, admittedly, you're going to have to be a real tough cookie.  That's where a good therapist is worth his/her weight in gold.  And maybe that would be a better place to start.  Find a therapist first before you start breaking the news.  Your therapist will be your support as you take on this challenge.  You must have someone you know you can count on before you make this leap.  You must have someone who will affirm your worth as a person, regardless of what you wear or how you act.  If your family wants to know why you want to see a therapist, you are not being untruthful if you tell them you are feeling anxious and stressed and need to work through it.

Maybe that's the best place to start-find one person who will support you.  Maybe that person will be a penpal, or someone you meet in a chat room on the net, a therapist, or a family friend-as long as it's someone who can say to you, "I may not understand right away, but I WANT to understand.  More importantly, I want you to be happy because I care."  Find that person-examine your life, your relationships for him or her.  If he/she doesn't exist in your personal life, go to Laura's Playground website and join a support group.  Look up support groups in your area.  As proof that many families will support their transgender, gender queer, and homosexual children, go to  It's possible your loved one may come around like these folks did.

Yes, if you are considering sharing your truth, you must don your big girl panties or big boy briefs.  It's not easy.  But self-care is key.  We all must learn to care for ourselves properly-in that way you're just like the rest of us schmoes who share the planet.  Believing in yourself, caring for your self-it takes courage, or as the cowardly lion put it, "The NOYVE."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Attention Young People-resources for YOU

To my young readers, if there are any.  You are not alone. I did a quick search for some resources so that you would know you are NOT the only transgender kid or teenager, or young adult out there. We live in a rural community, and support is even popping up out here.  You gotta look for it.  Your generation is way more computer savvy than mine, so if I can find it, you can.

In the meantime-here are a couple of phone numbers:

Trevor Lifeline:

866-4UTrevor or 866-488-7386

Another hotline: this is a nationwide toll free number for the Trevor Lifeline:


If you think that most people in the world won't love you or accept you, it's not true.  Even if you do not find acceptance at home, there are people out there who can confirm to you your worth, your loveableness, your right to exist and be happy.  Go to:

Trans Youth Family Allies is another great organization at:

And if I may, I would like to comment, personally, on young folks who face this challenge.

I know that not everyone will accept you for who you really are and I can only imagine how painful that must be.  But if you harbor fears that no one will ever love you and accept you, please know that that isn't true.  You may have to kiss way more frogs than you care to, but there are lots of people who will love you, accept you, be your friend and supporter.  You are braver than you know in being true to yourself.  There are so many of us who want to help.  Please keep helping yourself and reaching out to the people who want to support you.  Go to the websites I've listed here and under "Links".  Reach out to help yourself and you will be helping someone else at the same time.  Keep the faith.  Live your truth and know that there are plenty of us who are on your side.

You asked for it...more resources

In an effort to be more concrete in my support, rather than accommodating my need to be mouthy myself, to quote one of my previous, angry blog entries, I would like to use today's entry to share some specific information regarding services, health care professionals, and the like.

For folks who are considering or have started the transition process, there are multiple physical characteristics that one must modify, obviously, in some cases, perhaps not so much with others.  Let us just get down to brass tacks and address them head on.

For transgender females anywhere in the puberty process:  has your voice become disarmingly deep?  Have you considered speech therapy?  I believe there are some programs online but if you can go to an actual speech and hearing clinic, these fine folks are trained specifically to help folks with speech issues, which may include voice training.  We were directed to the George Washington University speech and hearing clinic where in a mere 6-8 months, DJ's voice was trained to fall into the "normal" range of a typical female voice.  Their program is fabulous and affordable:  they make use of the grad students to offer the voice training, under the supervision and guidance of licensed professionals, and thereby can keep the costs affordable.  Dr. Adrienne Hancock assisted DJ and she was wonderful to work with.  They charge $50 for a one hour session.  GWU is in Washington D.C. so if you live anywhere in the area, it's definitely worth considering.  But, if you don't, consider going to a University, or speech therapy clinic near you that has a medical program and ask.  Voice training is part of speech therapy so while the folks near you may not have worked with transgender clients before, that doesn't mean they won't be willing or able to help you in your endeavor to sound more feminine.  The training is not just aimed at the voice itself, but also encompasses common mannerisms of speaking, so I imagine this process could be helpful to the transgender male client as well.

Finding a therapist that specializes in this field:  those of you living near urban areas will likely have more success, but even if you live out in the country, like we do, there are still possibilities.  Perhaps making a weekly 50 mile trip isn't feasible, but if you can manage it every 2-3 weeks, many therapists can and will still work with you, especially if you're not having any major issues.  Try Laura's Playground at :

to find a list of therapists, by state.  We found DJ's therapist this way.  The first therapist we went to was Ellen Warren in Alexandria, Virginia.  She is wonderful.  You can do a Google search to find her.  The only reason we didn't stay with her was the drive was too long to make weekly, which we thought was required at the time.  However, I continued to check back with the Laura's Playground website and found DJ's new therapist, Chris McClure, in Gainesville, VA.  She is fabulous as well.  Both are very experienced in helping transgender teens and young adults.  You can Google Chris McClure, as well to find her office location.

Considering hormone therapy?  Prior to the recent changes in the WPATH Standards of Care,  it seemed the only path worth considering was going to a Pediatric Endocrinologist for teens who want to transition in this way.  However, we were fortunate enough to have a colleague who recommended another colleague in New Jersey who worked with DJ's primary care physician, here at home, to manage her pharmacological needs.  Dr. Carla Enriquez in New Jersey is a doctor who specializes in pediatric neurodevelopmental issues, among other things.  She assisted DJ in writing prescriptions for her hormones.  Our insurance did not cover her care, so it was pricey because Dr. Enriquez will conduct an exceedingly thorough exam including interviews with the patient and parents of the minor patient.  But she is a brilliant doctor who, by the way, transitioned quite a long time ago and was a true trailblazer in her state.  Her actions led to legislation to protect transgender people from discrimination and harassment in New Jersey.  We enlisted the help of DJ's primary care physician to authorize periodic lab work, which our insurance did cover.  He then forwarded the results of the lab work to Dr. E so that she could be sure DJ's hormone levels were in the appropriate range.  You might be able to enlist the assistance of your PCP in this way, thereby keeping visits to the specialist who writes the prescriptions to a minimum.  I simply downloaded and printed a fair amount of scientific data describing DJ's condition and brought it in to her PCP and we discussed his informing his staff that the client formerly known as JD, was now DJ. He was glad to help and thankful for the information I provided so that he could read it in his spare time.

Another great doctor to consider who just brought a physician's assistance to her practice to help manage her increasing numbers of clients with hormone management needs is Dr. Christine McGinn in New Hope, PA.  You can Google her, as well.  My understanding is Dr. McGinn had quite a long waiting list for patients who wanted her to help them manage their pharmacological needs,which is why she brought the physician's asst. on board.  Whether or not she is taking new clients for this purpose, I'm not certain, but it's worth trying.  Dr. Christine McGinn is also a superbly gifted surgeon, as I understand it, and performs gender confirmation surgery for both male and female transgender patients.  She has a wonderfully unique set-up to care for her surgical patients, particularly post-op.  Her demeanor is friendly, caring, and professional.  Her staff is excellent.  Her office also performs electrolysis AND will numb the area with a blocking agent via injection, which is a service that is hard to find.  Most electrologists work independently from doctors and cannot therefore offer the numbing injection, only numbing cream, which may not be as effective in controlling discomfort.  Additionally, Dr. McGinn's office offers laser hair removal too.

Go to for all kinds of resources for transgender folks.  It is incredibly comprehensive.  I've said this before, but the first time I went on the website, I was a bit taken aback because the graphics were what would normally appeal to children and I was worried what kind of website it was.  DO NOT let the graphics sway you one way or the other.  This website is very helpful, complete with chaperoned chat rooms, blogs, and all kinds of references for services.  This was, literally, the first resource we made use of when DJ first came out.  DJ and I accessed the chat rooms together so I could be sure it was on the up and up and it is.  There are folks who monitor the chat rooms to protect the users from folks who are there for the wrong reasons.

If you're considering coming out at school or at work, www.imatyfa. org and www. have resources to help educate peers at work, or at school.  I've even been given to understand that a rep from their organization may come to your place of work, or school, and educate the folks there to assist with your transition.  It's worth looking into.  They have a pamphlet online that you can print up and bring to your school or place of work to illustrate what services they offer to help make your transition as a student or employee easier for everybody.

If you're considering surgery, be careful of where you look.  For example, we looked into Johns Hopkins Hospital.  Last time I checked, they perform gender confirmation surgery but the patient has to go through the Sexual Behaviors Consultation unit.  In other words, my child would be mixed in with clientele that may have had erectile dysfunction issues, inability to perform issues, sexual deviancy issues, as well as gender identity issues.  Any "sexual" issue was treated there.  I was not about to mix my child in with such a varied clientele.  For all I know, they could be treating pedophiles there since that is a sexual behavior, whereas gender identity is NOT a sexual behavior.  I thought their process was alarmingly conservative and cast the transgender person in a negative light.  Just my opinion, but worth considering when you are evaluating resources for your family member or yourself.

There is a surgeon in Canada, Dr. Brassard, who comes very highly recommended.  You can Google him as well as there is a plethora of information on him.  Very highly regarded and is supposed to have a gentle bedside manner in addition to excellent skills as a surgeon.

I will endeavor to find out more if I can and share it with my readers.  If you have resources that you can share, please send me a comment and maybe we can then share e-mail addresses and correspond.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Change is a comin'

Some exciting and promising events have been taking place both personally, and in the news, that make me more and more hopeful for the happy futures of folks of all gender identities and sexual orientation, for that matter.  Let us consider the promising events of the past couple of years:

The Girl Scouts of America organization's statement that they will accept any child who professes to be and presents as a girl into their organization, with parental consent.

OWN-the Oprah Winfrey Network airs a documentary about Cher Bono and her transgender son, Chaz.

CNN airs a positive piece on a transgender female child whose parents are supportive, as is her community,  and her playmates.

WPATH, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, has revised its Standards of Care so that its verbiage is more supportive than ever of transgender and gender queer individuals.

A prominent pop artist in England was successfully able to have gender confirmation surgery and her story was also televised on the abovementioned CNN special.  She was the youngest person in the world (age 16) to have the surgery indicating more surgeons' willingness to see that early interventions often lead to happier lives for transgender folks; this is excellent progress in light of the fact that most problems these folks have are anxiety and depressive issues secondary to non-acceptance in the world after years of living in the wrong body.

There are child welfare agencies in the federal government that are in tuned to this issue and have been educating themselves for the last couple of years, to my knowledge.  For all I know, they have been working toward the improvement of care for transgender children for far longer than that.

Doctors are increasingly understanding the importance of early intervention and authorizing more frequent use of puberty delaying hormones in children.  Since the effects are completely reversible, the doctors feel "safer" and it gives the child an opportunity to start living as the gender with which they identify. As a result, they may never have to go through the excruciating process of puberty in the wrong body.

While we have movements that want to "define" marriage, we have states that have legalized same sex marriages.  There are many of us straight folks who stand behind homosexual families who want the same legal rights and financial protections that the rest of us enjoy.

Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  All I can say is, "Finally.  Alleluia and Amen."

We have more and more local governments and employers who are adding verbiage to their guidelines stating that discrimination based on a person's orientation or gender is unlawful.

Then I have boatloads of anecdotal information that illustrates that this world is changing.  No, we are not there yet.  But if we want to be able to get out of bed in the morning, we have to be able to see that there is hope whether we are the transgender individual, or the parents, family or friends of a person who is transgendered.  You brave folks who are carrying the torch-I thank you and applaud your courage.  To quote Lady Gaga, not only were you born this way, but you were born to be brave and as a result, can teach the rest of us schmoes how to accept folks of all walks of life.

But it's not  your job to teach us.  You must simply be true to yourself in the way that works best for you.  

There are a lot of us "mainstream" folks who are in your corner.  Change is a comin';  granted, perhaps  not fast enough, but it's happening.  Keep the faith.