Friday, February 21, 2014

Moms gotta stick together


I'll keep this short and sweet because I have a lunch date with a dear friend shortly.  There are moms out there wanting, nay, needing to network with other moms of transgender kids.  These moms might even welcome comments from other transgender folk who have navigated transition.  Perhaps readership is down on my beloved, albeit somewhat neglected, blog, but those who read, do you mind commenting a bit more so we can support each other?  We need you!!

The Author

Friday, February 14, 2014

Apt little joke

Just thought of something kinda funny....

You know what they call Brazil nuts in Brazil?    Nuts.

You know what they call Chinese food in China?   Food.

You know what they call transgender people in accepting places?   People.


Lantern in the window

My cousin posted a picture on FB some weeks ago.  It was an x-ray of two people kissing.  Unless you are an expert in identifying skull characteristics, you would never know the gender of the two people kissing.  Sometimes, don't you wish we didn't have to see each other?  Wouldn't it be amazing if we communicated simply by talking or telepathy?  No visual data to skew our perceptions?

No consenting adults would be denied the right to marry.  Homosexual couples could openly dance at the weddings of heterosexuals.  No one would freak out at Cheerios commercials depicting bi-racial couples.  Obese people would not feel the humiliation of self-righteous stares.  Unattractive people would be hired based on their abilities and not passed over for someone who may be less able but more attractive.  Transgender people wouldn't be transgender-they would just be who they are.  Male, female, neither, both.  It just wouldn't matter.

I was watching reruns of "How I met your mother."  We have Netflix and we're on this crazy kick of watching 4-5 episodes in a sitting.  (Don't judge :)  That's the same amount of time it takes to watch a movie!!)  We're up to season 3 and as much as I like the show, I've noticed that the writers could not make it through a single season without making a "tranny" joke.  First of all, what a freaking offensive word.  Second-the show took place less than a decade ago in allegedly hip and accepting Manhattan, and one of the cast is openly gay in his personal life.  It seems the lowest type of joke when we have to resort to mocking the appearance of others for a laugh.  It stings every time a joke is made because it makes me wonder how DJ feels hearing it.....

As soon as I feel discouraged ( and I often do) I try to remember about the stories I hear about people who accept and embrace and love the folks who tell them, "Listen, my name isn't Linda.  I go by Mark now.  I hope we can still be friends."  I try to remember to practice patience-many people will come around, given some time.  Ideally, everyone would say, "Mark?  Got it.  And of course we're still friends.  Although, this might make gift shopping harder because guys are harder to shop for than girls." But most have to go through that, "Wait....What?"  moment.  That is often followed by their concern about making a mistake in using the right pronouns, forgetting to use the correct name, trying not to stare on noticing obvious physical differences.....which may make some people withdraw. Others are just superficial, small minded folks whose uncharitable behavior needs to be viewed as what it is-kinda sad, actually.  Don't get me wrong-this sounds great on paper; often, I would prefer to simply bitch-slap such people.  Truly.  But I don't want to go to jail and I don't want to sink to their level, and besides, people like that don't learn from a proper bitch-slapping anyway.

When you feel like you wanna bitch-slap someone, when you feel like the world is just plain ugly and it makes you despair of your own future happiness or the happiness of your beloved child, or relative, go to this website:  Add it to your FB feed.  You will get updates a number of times a week that usually offer great news about what is happening in the LGBT world.  Positive stories about how the straight and narrow world is becoming less narrow minded.  More open hearted.  You'll find out how the LGBT community is helping itself AND how straight/natal gendered folks are understanding the importance of being a helping hand instead of a palm in someone's face.

When you're walking through Lowe's and someone acts like they suddenly don't know you, or you mention your daughter, and co-workers look at each other with raised eyebrows, reach out as soon as possible to a source that will remind you that there are still many, many homes with lanterns in the window.  Refuge from the storm, no matter how short lived, will give you strength.  Folks-we're winning.  Slowly, but surely.  Hell, even a federal judge in Virginia cited the unconstitutionality of not allowing gay couple to marry. VIRGINIA!!!  There's hope, but sometimes you gotta pull out the magnifying glass to see it.  Blessings to you who are brave enough to be your true self and to you who are brave enough to love your family member who has come out.  XO

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lives touching

DJ is quite happy in the choices of classes she's currently taking.  She's decided to pursue a degree in physics which will require her transferring to a four year college on completion of her associate's degree from a local community college.

This local community college is actually a town over from where we live.  There's another one even a bit further away, but that would require travel into the "big city" which she doesn't relish.  Last semester, she crossed paths with former high school classmates, and it completely unnerved her and she dropped the class.  We completely supported that decision, and, in fact, encouraged her to reconsider the drive into the "big city"; especially since it's not actually a big city, just an incredibly congested suburb of a big city.  She really likes her community college and looked forward to taking continued classes with some of her professors and elected to stay the course.

This semester, she shares a single class with a single former classmate from high school.  In fact, she's known this kid since she was a small child.  This young man knew DJ as JD from ages 6-14.  She said she initially tried to avoid him, but ended up being assigned to his group the first day.  After some slight awkwardness, they apparently got on quite well.  "He's different now," she says.  He's determined to make good grades, and is dedicated to school.  Keep in mind, this kid was never mean spirited to her, so I shouldn't be wary......but.....well, I still am.

She can be too trusting-or Bulldog and I fear that.  We worry that somehow her old life will bleed into this new one that has, with great care, been created.  She's worked hard to create this new life that encompasses her true self, as have we.  It makes me nervous, having these two lives touching like this.  I remember the pain and the fear that we all experienced when she first came out.  She really thought all those friends would accept.  They could accept the theory, but couldn't get past the new girl in the dress.  When they couldn't, it sent her into a spiral and us too.  It took a year and a half to climb out of that pit.  I don't want her, or us, to go back.

I try to remember that she has matured and has truly grown into herself which makes her less vulnerable....the realization brings some comfort but I'm still edgy.  I will keep this to myself, however, or only share with Bulldog, but not with DJ.  I've expressed my opinion about exercising caution when extending trust to people-which is true for all of us.  I made it a short, 2 minute conversation. I am bound and determined to not be worrisome in a way that she'll see, but man, does this make me

I'm curious-other parents out there, or any transgender folks who care to comment-is the climate changing out there?  It seems so, in the media, anyhow.  But what is it like in the schools and the neighborhoods?  Are the younger kids who transition more accepted than the older ones?  Does age have any bearing?   I hope someone will chime in.  I think there are some parents who might like to network.  I know I would be happy to be part of such a network.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Asking for what you need

A couple of weeks ago some sadder memories popped into my head.  I try not to ruminate on such things too frequently, but I thought sharing them might be valuable in the event some of you may be experiencing something akin to the happenings around here when DJ first came out.

Admittedly, despite the overly bright picture I fear I've presented throughout this blog, those first couple of months were somewhat dark.  What I remember most about the "dark" aspects was the loneliness.  Despite the fact that both sides of the family completely embraced DJ and accepted her, I recall our little family being alone, quite a bit.  Both Goodwrench and Romeo were living away, at school, so DJ, Bulldog and I were home, in our small, rural town, where we were uncertain as to what to expect from our inner circle of close friends and the circle outside of that, of friends, in general.  I remember, keenly, feeling frightened for DJ's safety, as well, which only heightened my sense of isolation.

At the time, I had family living up the street and a few miles away.  They supported DJ so what I'm about to say might seem ungrateful;  I don't mean it to be.  Those folks were integral in making DJ feel loved and accepted.  But what I recall is a long, hot, isolated summer with little to do and no one to do much of anything with.

Some of our friends and acquaintances knew about DJ's coming out, some did not. On July 4th of that year, some friends, who did not yet know, were having a July 4th party a mile from our home.  All of my family members attended.  We did not.  It was too soon and the hosts of the party did not know about DJ yet.  Bulldog, DJ and I spent that day doing absolutely nothing except hanging out.  And not one family member dropped by to see how we were, despite being one mile away.  That's two sisters, their spouses, my mother, and a cousin.  It stings each time I recall it.

We were supporting DJ but Bulldog and I needed support too.  Someone to remember that get togethers like that weren't possible yet for us-not yet.  I try to remember that people all tend to be in their own little bubbles and often don't think of (what might seem like, to us) the obvious needs of others.  What if I had just asked any one of them to drop in and visit for a few minutes?  Or maybe Bulldog and I should have been a bit more creative and taken DJ on a road trip to get out of town for a day or two.  Neither of those solutions occurred to me at the time.

So, I say this to families who are in a similar predicament:  this place of "flux" will not last forever BUT, and this  is a significant BUT, your predicament can be isolating at first.  Just four years ago, I could only find one or two resources for transgender people and none of them were within 50 miles of us.  That is likely less true today than it was even four years ago.  Search online for support.  And if you have even one family member or friend, ask for help.  Ask for a visit.  Tell them you're feeling a bit lonely for company as you try to re-introduce your child.  You're so busy being strong for your kid and kudos to you for that.  But you gotta refill the tank or you'll run out of gas.  Some days, you'll need support almost as much as your kid does.  Not because having a transgender kid is draining, in and of itself, but because, unfortunately, being "different" in this world can be draining.  And if your kid is no longer living at home but has just recently decided to transition, this is where you can help. What if your son has only told one or two friends of his decision to transition? Is he alone on a Friday night?  Is your daughter going to be spending a 3 day weekend with nothing to do? Ask your kid to come home and dote on him or her for the weekend.  We often want to give our grown kids "space", but maybe "space" is not what  your kid needs right now.  And if she does need space, she'll tell you, "No thanks."  As hard as it is for us to ask for help, it might be even harder for them, especially if they're feeling unnecessary guilt for "putting" their parents through "this" (their transition).

There are a fair number of blogs by folks who are going through situations such as this.  Use them. Write to the authors, make comments.  It's possible someone may answer.  That alone can make you feel less alone in the process.  Most importantly-do NOT think the isolation you may experience is a failing on your part or a failing on your child's part.  Most people just can't understand the magnitude of transition, despite how hard they try.  And they are often unsure of what to do to help.  It's no one's fault, but you may be able to remedy it simply by asking, "You want to swing by for just a few minutes?  We could use some company since our social life is kind of limited at the moment."  Sure wish I had done that.....