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

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 eat....you 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?  Wow....yeah....it 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.


Rebel Teacher knows best

Another "goodie" that I somehow forgot to publish a few years ago.  Rebel Teacher is the bomb.  Parents-this was eye opening for me, hearing Rebel Teacher's perspective; perhaps it will be for you, as well.

The Author


During my meltdown yesterday, when I was finally able to get to the sad part and boo-hoo a bit, I decided to NOT drive my car and instead, turn around and go see a friend in lieu of trying to make it to the hair salon.  This friend lives right up the street and actually is person who came up with my sister's name that I use in this blog - "Bean."  It's short for lesbian.  She and her husband were my sister's neighbors and referred to my sister and her girlfriend, who we'll call "Saint" because 1) she lives with my sister and 2) it's a tongue in cheek reference to the fact that she was raised in the Catholic faith and her parents feared for her soul on finding out about her orientation, as The Beans.  These folks are liberal minded, accepting and have hilarious senses of humor.

So, I stopped by to see this friend and I was so glad I did.  I've found that I am getting the most amazing insight from people and I did from her yesterday, as well.  Now, we'll call this woman Rebel Teacher because 1) she's a rebel and 2) she teaches, and loves to teach, the kids who most others think of as the rebels.  She sincerely loves the kids who are on the fringes of acceptance, and her experience is valuable.  She said to me, "It was just too easy at first, wasn't it?  DJ probably thought the hardest part would be telling you and Bulldog and the rest would be easy.  She figured her friends would be more accepting.  And then when you and Bulldog took it in stride, and she found out her friends wouldn't accept, it must have felt terrible for her."

I never thought about it like that.  DJ had such huge faith in her friends, and naturally, because she's a teenager, so little faith in us.  Once she had our acceptance, she probably figured school would be a piece of cake.

Then, Rebel Teacher added, "Being invisible is worse.  She was probably ready for someone saying something ugly.  She could respond to that."  Or, as Bulldog put it, "You can't fight back if you're not even there."

Sometimes I'm perceptive as hell, and other times, I'm as clueless as a box of rocks.  I knew being invisible was terrible, but now I understand it in another way-DJ was prepared to stand up for herself.  She wasn't prepared for.....nothing.

DJ hasn't said any of this to us, so we could be off base, but sometimes when I share insights from others, I can see a light of recognition go on in her face.  It's as if the thoughts are floating around in her head, but it's hard to explain until she hears someone else's perspective and then she either says, "No, that's not it" or "Yeah, it's kind of like that."

THIS is why we have to help each other.  Isn't it amazing how the smallest act of sharing can help another person so much?

There's this awesome woman in Australia who has been corresponding with me.  She has given me so much insight and reminders about what is and isn't important. Her stories are a reminder of the importance of perspective.  Small people are just that-SMALL.  We cannot let them become so large in our lives that they throw us of off our own tracks. And one of the best ways to keep that from happening is talking about how we feel, and listening to others who are willing to share their stories and thoughts with us.

DJ's plumbing skills

Nope-not what you think!! This is not a discussion of internal plumbing in the anatomical sense or plumbing in the sense of piping fresh water in and yucky water out.  This plumbing refers to DJ's interest in plumbing the depths of the ocean via SCUBA DIVING!!!  (At least initially.)

She's been at her college now for a few weeks.  She phoned me for a quick chat tonight prior to her physics society meeting…what exactly does one do at a physics society meeting?  I think of raised pinky fingers sipping tea from fine English bone china when I hear the word "society."


Image result for drinking tea, high society, pinky finger raised
High Society
And yet, I also picture telescopes and those things you buy in Spencers with five metal balls suspended from fishing wire (known as "Newton's Cradle" if we want to be accurate; a highly desired quality in science, or so I understand) lined up next to each other so that you pull one to the side and watch the kinetic energy travel to the ball on the opposite end, only to see the pattern repeat; the two images just don't mesh.



I have no idea what goes on at said physics society meetings, but it's close to 3 in the morning, here in the eastern USA, my brain is foggy and I digress….

Back to scuba diving.  This is an essential skill for those who want to be astronauts as it is a means of mimicking the weightlessness that one will experience in space.  Now, she will not actually be plumbing the depths of the ocean anytime soon because her university is in a landlocked part of the state; she will likely be plumbing the bottom of a pool for starters!!

Then she informed me that her assigned "mentor" had invited her to his lab and I felt kind of freaked out.  I don't know-is that the 21st century science-y way of saying, "Hey baby, want to come see my sketches?"

"How old is he?"

"I don't know-mid to late twenties. Why?"

"Is anyone else going?"

"No…but mom, he's my assigned mentor."

Oh yeah, because if a well known university gives this guy the role of "mentor" he's certain to be trustworthy, in a lab, on a Thursday night, after 9 p.m., right?

"DJ, when I was a freshman in college, I went to the university health center for an upper respiratory infection.  The 3rd year resident elected to give me a complete breast exam. I trusted him 'cause he was a doctor. ( I should have trusted my gut when it said, "What the hell does this have to do my cough and low grade fever?" and then told him to get his damn hands off of me, but we tend to blindly trust doctors, right?) "Do not give people your trust until they earn your trust."

I could hear her exasperation with me so I didn't want to press it any further.  I admit it: I suffer from a form of reverse prejudice.  I never worried about this stuff with my sons.  I worried that when my oldest son joined a fraternity (a stupid waste of $1500 to purchase a wooden paddle and booze for their frat parties) he would get hazed as part of his initiation.  He bought the whole fraternity crap, hook, line and sinker, and still will not tell us what his initiation included because he took an oath….(so rolling my eyes right now.)  And Romeo was just so earnest and aware of being safe and didn't really care for partying that  I felt like he was fairly insulated from danger. DJ has no interest in sororities (oh thank goodness…if she agreed to wear a plaid skirt and a beret on Wednesdays just because the sorority said so, I would know I'd lost her forever) nor in partying.  She is strictly and excitedly interested in math, physics, engineering and astronomy, which includes scuba diving (Yay!!) and visiting isolated labs in the late evening (not so "yay").

You want to plumb the depths of a pool in order to someday plumb the vastness of space?  That's cool.  But please, plumb your new friends and learn about the hazards of unknown men too….please. In scuba diving, you always have to be aware of your surroundings-remembering your path of entry and means of egress, watching for hazards.  Goodness girl-I hope you're doing that with all these new people.

Why couldn't she have been assigned a female mentor?  Why didn't I make her stick with Taekwondo?  Why can't she be a bit less trusting that all science guys are like Bill Nye?

The University has an app that allows students to track their whereabouts so if they don't show up when they're expected, people will know where to start looking.  Am I nuts in so wanting to make sure she uses it, that I refuse to provide spending money until she proves to me she's using it?

Yup-we have lift off.  Mom is hovering. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicopter_parent  She's only 5 feet off the ground presently-quick, somebody ground the helicopter with a well-thrown rock before she hovers over DJ at the University science labs.





Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Caitlin the Conundrum

This author is feeling particularly cantankerous today as she has been in considerable pain for days. Hopefully the x-ray will shed light on the issue and prescription pain meds will work their magic.  However, being presently free of pain medication, I can only offer fair warning about the post that follows. It just might be a bit crotchety-I offer apologies in advance!

I'm trying to follow Mahatma Ghandi's advice about keeping my thoughts positive as they influence my actions, and ultimately my karma.  In that vain, I will attempt to address Caitlin Jenner's perspective on marriage in a manner that is respectful…despite the fact that I personally find it mind-boggling.

But wait…stop there.  After reading articles about the interview between Cait and Ellen on TheEllenShow, and viewing the actual Cait/Ellen interview on TheEllenShow, I've come away with thinking that Cait is acting more like a politician than anything else.

Here is the portion of the original interview when Caitlin Jenner and Ellen Degeneres discussed gay marriage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n8QskfvUfg

Below is the link to the article in Huffpost Women that depicts Ellen's comments on The Howard Stern Show; the article, "Ellen DeGeneres Responds to Caitlyn Jenner's Comments about Marriage Equality," was written by JamesMichael Nichols, the Deputy Gay Voices Editor of The Huffington Post on September 8, 2015. His commentary is included and perhaps apt; I'm still undecided.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ellen-degeneres-responds-to-caitlyn-jenners-comments-about-marriage-equality_55ef47bce4b002d5c0771495?section=women&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046

I initially wondered at a man writing an article about a gay woman, and a transgender woman, for the Huffpost Women column at all. But then again, the article doesn't really examine women's issues specifically but rather the dichotomy of a transgender woman who is seeking equality and yet seems rather wishy-washy about marriage equality for gay couples. And that is not specifically a women's issue, is it?  Equality doesn't belong to just straight men and women, or just to natal men and women.  Or just to white men, or wealthy women, or women who were born with male chromosomes, are tremendously wealthy and can thus be the talk of the town because of her notoriety.

Does anyone buy her lukewarm "acceptance" of gay marriage?  It seems not, as evidenced by the myriad of comments from those who weighed in on the article, among them:

What Ellen doesn't...can't...get because Ellen is such a good, real person, is that Jenner is a media project, not a transgender person who has "come out." 
And...
How facinating that she doesn't get it! I've always been puzzled when any minority group that is fighting for equality and understanding doesn't understand the validity in another group fighting for the same!

Finally:


There are a lot of gay and transgender people who do not support same-sex marriage, just as there are Black people who don't support affirmative action or ending stop-and-frisk, or women who don't support feminism. Unfortunately, the institutions support white Christian male heteronormativity are so pervasisve that even those negatively affected by it often uphold these standards.(Emphasis added.)

So the question remains-how can a person who lobbies for equality for her "minority" somehow be unable to wholeheartedly divorce herself from her politics so that she can lobby for equality for other "minorities?"

What the hell is a minority anyway?  To put it simply, in somewhat sociological terms, it is anyone who is substantially (or perhaps merely marginally) different from those who hold the reins of society.  We all know who those folks holding the reins are:  those in positions of power, influence and almost always great wealth.  Is it really any wonder that a woman who happens to be transgender still expects to write her own rules, even when they seem to embody the height of hypocrisy?  After all, she is used to being in positions of influence and power.  Initially,  she earned her fame from the Olympics, and later, parlayed that into uber fame through her marriage to the Kardashian dynasty.  The people who got their fame from helping to free a man who was statistically likely to have killed his ex-wife and her friend.  Yes, black people are wrongly convicted far too often, but in OJ Simpson's case…his attorneys (Kardashian among them) were simply superior to the State's attorney.

My observations are thus:  Cait wants to control all situations to reflect her way of thinking.  She can profess to wanting to represent the transgender community all she wants; yet she insists on depicting the reality of being a transgender person in American society on her alleged "reality" show in a manner that  does not seem remotely realistic.  Perhaps if she removed the reality-bending lens through which she expects us to see her world she could finally be a "real" woman.  Real as in genuine because her gender has nothing to do with her reality. Her gender may certainly be real, but her perspective is not!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Still a quarter

What an education I've gotten today and in such short order!!  If you have been reading of late, you'll note that a "Miz Know it all" has been posting in the comments section of my blog. She recently mentioned that she, also, has a blog.  One of her recent posts, mentioned the Six Steps of "Passing." the discussion of which can be found at-
 http://miz-knows-it-all.blogspot.com/ 

For parents whose children have recently informed them that their child's gender is inaccurately reported on the birth certificate, "passing" commonly refers to a person successfully "appearing" as the gender with which the person identifies, and is contrary to both the birth certificate and the 1% of the body that is said to "define" gender: their genitals. 

The Six Steps are as follows:


  • Step 0, No passing
  • Step 1, Pass in a crowd
  • Step 2, Pass with longer person-to-person interactions
  • Step 3, Passing with a lover
  • Step 4, Sustained Passing
  • Step 5, Having your memory rewrite itself
  • Step 6, Knowing that you have always been female
I'd like to focus on Step 5 as this was the topic of an important conversation between a neighbor and me.  She and I were chatting this weekend and she was asking about DJ's transition from community college to a four year university, far from home.  As our conversation continued, it eventually turned to the time when DJ first came out.  This neighbor is in her 70s and is probably the coolest woman her age, out there.  She shared with me how, admittedly, she wasn't sure if she would acclimate to DJ's change well; wondrously, she explained how it's like she can't remember DJ any other "way" despite the fact that DJ transitioned (outwardly) only five years ago.

She and I discussed this at length because both of us find it so fascinating that our memories have essentially "rewritten" themselves, as well.  It's the most interesting phenomena because I have clear memories of JD and yet that kid seems like another kid entirely.  I've said this before and it bears repeating to those parents who are doubting their ability to accept their children wholeheartedly:  JD "became" (in my mind) DJ's fraternal twin who went to spend the night at a friend's house and simply never came back. I remember JD quite clearly...but he is not DJ.  And yet, they share remarkable qualities.

JD could turn anything into a toy and amuse "him"self. Fifteen years ago, the 5 year old "boy" would pick up the loose end of the seatbelt on his car seat and it would become a space ship. Currently, DJ still exhibits that quality of imagination by turning some inane object into something that piques her curiosity.  There are certain "person" qualities that transcend gender; those qualities are constant and unchanged regardless of hormones, surgery, or the lack thereof.  Yet, in many other ways, DJ is so different from JD; in this way, gender is the lens through which a person both sees the world, and perhaps is seen by the world. In this way, my pre-transition youngest child is clearly "family" to the post-transition counterpoint; simultaneously, the two are no more the "same" than two siblings are.

I cannot pretend to understand this dichotomy beyond my rudimentary attempt here.  All I know is that all of us routinely use the female pronoun in referring to DJ, even when we are speaking of her pre-transition years.  And it's just so... normal.  Early in the process, I wasn't sure how I would remember her past without remembering her as JD, and yet, it's just so easy.

Here's how:  if we related to each other only telepathically, we would likely "sense" the  gender of other persons with whom we interact.  However, I think we would also be far less likely to "categorize" others because so many of us have varying degrees of "maleness" and "femaleness" that we manifest in our daily lives.  I'm not going to even try to define what I think of as "maleness" or "femaleness" because it's nearly an impossible task.  But what if our "gender" identity is similar to a dialect?  What if someone from New England said, "I love you" and someone from Louisianna said, "I love you?"  Each would clearly sound different from each other and each would have a "culture" that has helped to shape his/her language and dialect...but would the message really be that different?

Anyway, rewriting memory doesn't make the rewritten memory false-it's just looking at the other side of the coin.  Heads or tails-it doesn't matter-it's still a quarter.  That's how I see it anyhow...Thanks for the inspiration MKIA.  BTW-what the heck does HPWT stand for? 

Friday, August 21, 2015

DJ finds her ground

Less than 24 hours after leaving, DJ called to tell me about her first night. (Good daughter!!)  She was quite excited at meeting people who share a common interest, that interest being (wait for it) ....Dungeons and Dragons.  She's attending a polytechnical university, so certainly uber cerebral geeks abound; she is one of them.

When we toured the dorm this spring, I noted a dry erase memo board with glyph-appearing writing on it attached to the door of one of the rooms. 

"Is that calculus?" I asked.

"No, it's Elvish," DJ replied.

"What does The King have to do with it?" I asked, in my head, thinking, of course, of Elvis Presley.

What I actually asked was, "What's Elvish?"

DJ explained, "It's a 'language' from Lord of the Rings." (Spoken by Elves....naturally.)

I slowly turned my head to look at her and said, "These are your people."

So yes, her dorm room is adorned with posters of Japanese Anime, her first new friends are Dungeons and Dragons aficionados, and she wore a Kiki's Big Adventure shirt paired with shorts denoting her university.  She screams GEEK.  She also screams HAPPY GEEK. She doesn't scream transgender.  It's her choice to either wave the banner or go stealth.  I'm all for stealth for now, or forever...again, it's her life and her choice.  She still lives in the Bible belt and deserves to be seen as her true self and not through a prejudiced lens.  She's just a young woman leaving home for college for the first time. Why should she be any different from any other young woman? 

She's off to a great start :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fly, Baby!!

DJ left today for college.  She's transferring to a university some hours from us to major in physics and astronomy.  She does nothing by halves, does she?  Except pack for college apparently:  she insisted on packing light. Smart girl, that one.

I thought for certain Bulldog and I would both be bawling like babies. I cried after dropping both of DJ's brothers at college, but didn't shed a tear today and I think I know why:  it's her time.  She had to fight for her happiness and now that she is on her way, how could there be anything to cry about?  Don't get me wrong-I ache.  Her room is empty in the strangest way, as is my heart, at the moment.  And yet, she's ready to fly, both figuratively and literally.  Our girl wants to be an astronaut and I would be terribly surprised if she didn't achieve this, as well.

She's sleeping in another city tonight, far from home but I'm raising my glass to my best girl-spread those wings baby; don't look down and don't look back.  Just fly.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

(Perhaps I need to) Give Cait a chance!!

Ok-so I continued to binge- watch I am Cait, and I'm so glad I did. I felt like what the viewer saw was far more "real" than the Versace handbag discussion earlier in the evening.

Cait met with some other women who were all were transgender. The mentoring that most of the women engaged in was so important. If only all women did this for each other!! There were two women who talked about a "pink haze" (I think that was the phrase they used) to which I could relate.  I remember DJ going through such a phase that I attributed to adolescence and joy at being able to be who she really was. http://transitioningfamily.blogspot.com/2011/08/fashion-sense.html
But these women seemed to cast it in a different light-not better, not worse, just different than the perspective I had. (Rachel-my filter obscured my ability to have a global perspective again!)  What I recall was DJ expecting us to absorb, accept, and acclimate to her reality IMMEDIATELY!!  I understood that her reality had been just that for her entire life, but her reality was new to us.  It wasn't that we didn't want to absorb, accept and acclimate quickly, we just didn't know how, right away.  We had to remind her of that from time to time.  So, if I could give the Kardashians and Cait any advice it would be:  be patient with each other.  Be honest enough to say that you are trying to accept each other, but that it's a work in progress.

From an outsider's perspective, Cait's falling out with her former wife is completely understandable from both sides:  Cait wanted Kris to accept her as her wife; Kris wanted her husband. The inevitable mistakes made along the way that will occur when one or both have to let go of what they thought was their reality must be viewed as only that-inevitable missteps that occur from learning to navigate a new course. 

Hopefully people at large who happen to watch I am Cait will see the similarities between families with transgender members and families that don't have any transgender members.  The underlying issue is essentially the same:  struggle to accept each other, struggle to compromise, and struggle to identify what is MOST important and finally, the struggle to let go of what we cannot have, achieve or control while simultaneously striving for what we can have, achieve and control.

I will continue to tune in...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Caitlyn coming out

We've all heard about Caitlin Jenner's coming out.  She was previously known as the world class Olympic athlete, Bruce Jenner.  Then she maintained her fame through the expert management of her former wife, and mother of two of her children, Kris Kardashian.

Those of us who have loved ones who are transgender, or those whose natal bodies do not agree with their gender already know the bravery it took for Cait to transition.  Most of us have no idea about the additional courage required to transition so incredibly publicly. I for one applaud that courage. Admittedly, however, my feelings are mixed regarding her show I am Cait.

I've watched portions of 2 shows. The first was excruciatingly disappointing and somewhat embarrassing as she, or her producers, steered her conversation from the heartbreak of homeless transgender teens to a discussion of her designer handbag. This evening's episode seems more heartfelt and yet, as the mother of a young woman who had to fight her way to happiness, I'm still concerned.

She has bravely elected to carry the torch to illuminate some of what is the reality of the transgender person. But is her story really the story that the transgender community wants told?  I really don't know-I am not transgender and it would be arrogant for me to speak for that community.  But I've made it my business to try to anticipate how people will react for my daughter's sake, for her safety and for her happiness. Granted, my attempt at anticipating the reactions of others constitutes only an illusion of control I'd like to believe I have; this allows me to believe I can keep my daughter safe.  That being said, I'm wondering if Cait's wealthy approach to coming out of the closet will only serve to alienate people.

Reality shows are often not remotely realistic.  Cait's show, purported to be a depiction of her reality of what it is to be transgender in America, is not most people's reality; this is largely because of her fame, her wealth, her resources and her producers.  Thankfully, she is honest about her struggles and yet, her struggles are packaged in glam in this show; will any viewer ever really "get"what the struggles are really like, simply by viewing her show?

I'm open to keeping my mind open…but admit to having reservations.  Either way, yeah, I say that the lady's got courage.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Wing nuts in the woodwork

Caitlyn Jenner-welcome!!!  Coming out so publicly takes enormous ovaries and while you may not have been born with ovaries, you clearly have plenty of figurative ovaries.  Yup-I saw the Diane Sawyer interview and I am not sorry to say at all that it was so clear that "Bruce" is female.  I for one could feel it.  I'm aware that there are many people, primarily those whose brains and DNA match, who are  not convinced that a person who has walked the earth for over 60 years could seemingly suddenly "change" genders.  Surprisingly, I have had cyber conversations with people who are transgender, some of whom prefer the term "transsexual," who also are suspicious of a person transitioning so late in life.   It surprised me to hear people who are living the "trans" reality attempt to put others, with similar circumstances as themselves, into a specific category, but it happens.

Why do "trans" and non-"trans" people care about who or when or why a person transitions?  Do we think it somehow undermines our own gender somehow?  Isn't that a bit preposterous?  If I start defining my gender based on those around me, super models, beauty pageant contestants, and the women in the "Real Housewives"  shows will make me feel like I am simply not a woman at all.  If I compare myself with a traditionally "masculine" appearing woman, does that make me feel more feminine?  No…the whole thing is just preposterous.  I don't need to check my panties, or anyone else's, to determine who I am.  Why on earth other people care is beyond me.

This is what I do worry about, however-despite Caitlyn's enormous courage- her public transition, unfortunately, has served to bring out all of the wing nuts from their hide-y holes.  Is this Caitlyn's fault?  Absolutely not.  However, I would be lying if I were to say that as a mom, I do not worry a bit about DJ's exposure to the acrid hatred that is currently showing up on Facebook regarding Ms. Jenner's appearance on Vanity Fair.

DJ has been playing the piano for nearly an hour straight…and the music is not sprightly and happy sounding, so perhaps she has been witness to some display of ugliness, as playing the piano is often an outlet for her.  The likelihood that any ugliness she witnesses is directed at her is slim; there are only a handful of us who know of her past.  But it still must sting.

Her life is wonderful- and I want it to stay that way.  I'd like to hack into the computers of certain alleged  anti-LGBTQ "professional truth teller" bloggers to prevent them from airing their asinine opinions for, well, ever.  But folks like that are like cockroaches…they go into hiding and breed.  It's best to let them come out into the daylight where we can spray the hell out of them with Raid  they can face the consequences of being the horrific creatures they really are by exposing their true selves to the world.

Ms. Jenner-it doesn't matter that you're gorgeous in the photo on Vanity Fair. I just keep thinking how every woman should have at least one moment where she feels great about herself.  Ms. Jenner has waited a long time to openly feel great about herself as a woman. Rock on woman!!!

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Furious Flower

So far, (and I'm knocking on every single wooden surface I can find so I don't put a hex on the whole year), 2015 is looking fabulous for our resident genius, DJ.  She, along with some of her peers,  has been selected out of over 400 NASA community college scholars to go to a NASA facility where they test rockets.  Excuse the pun, but we are all OVER THE MOON about this.  OK, not all of us-we can't track Bulldog down at work so he still doesn't know yet.

Goodwrench, (who deserves a different moniker now that he has left that line of work and works in a lab now-yeah Goodwrench!!) and Romeo are thrilled for their sister.  Flying Pig is bragging on Facebook.  Mimi is tickled pink.  Bean is so proud.

DJ is typically modest about all this.  As I read Flying Pig's Facebook post denoting her "freakishly smart, genius niece," DJ just shook her head and said, "I don't think of myself that way."  I replied, "I know you don't and that's part of what makes you so lovable."

I don't know if she'd ever have gotten this far as JD.  All that emotional, intellectual and creative effort would have been channeled into keeping up the facade of JD; JD quite possibly might never have achieved all "he" could living the false identity "he" was living.  No sooner did DJ come out as her true self than she started to blossom-and furiously!!!  

#Proud mama!  If only we could reach Bulldog!! Ten bucks says he gets all choked up on the phone… 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Never too old or too young to come out

It appears more people in the public eye know, love, or possibly are, transgendered folk.  As a rule, I'm not a Hollywood follower.  I rarely watch TV anymore, only go to the movies a few times a year and never watch the awards shows, but I do take note of magazine covers when I'm standing in line at the grocery store. Granted, the magazines at the grocery store are not scholarly or peer-reviewed, but there are some whose headlines I may consider true-ish.

Bruce Jenner's transition has been in the "gossip" papers for some time.  While Jenner's look is certainly changing, far be it for me to assume that a transition it taking place, despite the appearance of it. Yet, when People magazine featured his story, I began to believe it might be true.

http://www.people.com/article/bruce-jenner-transition-whats-next

What I like about the article is that it attempts to educate in an appropriate fashion; the article explains what the term "transgender" means, to a fair enough degree.  While most of us are sheep and tend to readily accept whatever famous people do as "normal,"in this instance, it is a good thing!  Certainly, when Jenner's kin elect to broadcast the details of their personal lives on TV, they simultaneously become laughingstocks, and, to some, role models.  I shudder to think that DJ would ever engage in some of the public ridiculousness that is being Kardashian, but…well, some people simply insist on engaging in idiocy.  However, there are instances when publicity can help "normalize" others who are otherwise and inappropriately viewed as "abnormal," and are thus marginalized.

When celebrities use their status to inform, to educate, to foster equity and acceptance, not merely tolerance, they have used their privileged status well.  Kudos to Brangelina for publicly sharing their support of their child who currently seems to be living as a young boy with XX chromosomes.  Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have shared her story of her battle with cancer in an effort to educate, but also to share their story of supporting John, their oldest biological child. I hesitate to refer to John's gender, while it may seem obvious, because until John's parents can share the gender identity John professes, far be it for me to suggest anything.  Not my place.  Nonetheless, the fact that John's birth certificate identified John as a natal female and Brangelina "permit" John to, one, be called John rather than the name they gave John, which was Shiloh, and further purchase clothing that John desires, rather than what society might dictate, all the while very much in the public eye, denotes their obvious love and acceptance of their child.  Given societal propensities to accept as gospel that which comes from the rich, famous and beautiful, it seems the Pitt/Jolie family heads have made good use of their prominent positions, while I doubt that was their goal.  Their goal was likely to simply be good parents to their kid.

http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/2014/12/20/brad-pitt-and-angelina-jolie-support-their-kid-wearing-suits

It's interesting that the two individuals I mention as being possibly transgender are of such disparate ages and both appear to be embracing their true selves, and in the public eye.  I can only wonder at what it's like for Jenner as the "male" Jenner face and identity has been well-known in America for decades.  So many of us thought that winning the decathlon would be Jenner's crowning victory, when actually, coming out may be.  John's "male" name and style of dress seem to indicate John is already  out of, and perhaps was never in, the closet.  How very different experiences they are.

Truthfully, I'm thankful for those who share their stories in the public eye.  It takes enormous courage.  I'm thankful for anyone who has the courage to be themselves, because they too are in the public eye in their own worlds.  For those parents whose kids are coming out, this world is far different than it was even five years ago when conducting a search for "transgender" support led to few places.  I'm not purporting to say you have it easier, only that I'm thankful there are more faces to see that happiness for your child is possible, and to know that there are more resources available.

For my part, as I've not posted anything new regarding resources, I will do some searching and see if I can't update the links on this blog.  If anyone cares to share what they know, please do. Either enter a comment or shoot me an email. My email is openarms2lgbt@gmail.com 



Peace to you all.




DJ has a new sister

Congrats to Romeo and Juliet!!! They are recently engaged to be married.  Juliet already told DJ that they're sisters now and that, of course, DJ will be a bridesmaid.  I think DJ is tickled pink at their happiness and the promise of the sister she never had.  Good stuff :)


Friday, February 6, 2015

Mission: The STARS!

Boo-Yah!!! DJ has been accepted as a transfer student into the four year college she wanted. She'll be a physics major.  Our girl has set her sights, figuratively and literally, on the stars.  She's decided she hopes to be an astronaut someday. She's off to a great start as she completes the final stages of  her design for a Mars Rover for a NASA- sponsored study program.

Her brain is….well, it's out there.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have no idea where she came from 'cause there ain't nothin' in the DNA on either side of the family that will explain her brilliance! And she loves learning. She gets all giggly and talks fast and gestures…it's adorable and inspiring.

Another best part: DJ wrote a letter to the Dean of her community college thanking them for the NASA opportunity. In return, the community college published a piece on DJ in their newsletter. That led to a faculty person contacting DJ to see if she'd be interested in speaking to girls in middle school about going into the sciences.

I'm thinking back on the tough years and will readily admit, I had difficulty envisioning my child being happy. Not because she is a transgender person, but because the world can make life difficult for transgender persons.  I hoped for this kind of opportunity for her in any part of her life she chose.  Seeing it come to fruition is sublime…..astronomically sublime.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

ZERO is the goal

It's 9:40 in the evening and I just finished my homework. I'm finally finishing my Bachelor's degree, just in time for my 50th birthday in May.  I'm a masochist because I'm taking accelerated, 8-week classes, four at a time, to finish quickly.  I cannot wait for this 8-week session to end.  The courses that I thought would be so interesting are just plain making me mad, mad, mad.

One is on sociology and another is on ethics in management. Both topics are zeroing in on discrimination and all its forms: gender, age, orientation, race, ethnicity…ad infinitum.  Any attempt to have a real discussion among my online peers is met with the sound of crickets chirping.  Oh, lest I forget-one person did respond to my post about sexism to say that it was some people's "perspective."  As if pay disparity is up for interpretation: "You say Po-tay-toe, I say Po-tah-toe."

Another guy actually wrote that "racism isn't as much of a problem anymore." Any people of color who care to chime in on this?  Any female people of color care to chime in?  Or, how about the triple whammy: any transgender female people of color care to comment?  The fact of the matter is that a person's "perspective" tends to be skewed by which end of the racism, sexism, or any other "ism" specter one is on.  I would be surprised to hear a natal white man say of black people, "Hey, it ain't so bad for you people anymore. It's not like people are burning crosses in your yard nowadays."  True, but black kids are getting shot, without real provocation, nearly exclusively as a race, by figures of authority who are almost exclusively white.

Or on my asking a D.C. firefighter, who was trying to recruit new hires, what it's like being a female firefighter in D.C., to have him reply that they have "this one" who is great and they "let her" hang with them.

So yes, President Obama mentioned transgender people and yes, it was glorious.  But clearly, that has not laid LGBT discrimination to rest-it has served only as a wake-up call.

I'm a paramedic/firefighter and I tend to equate many things to paramedic analogies.  If you find that is annoying, read no further.  I teach new EMTs and paramedics too and I've found a common mistake among such folk is thinking that persons having a heart attack who are experiencing little pain, or an improvement in pain need no further intervention in the form of medication administration.  That is WRONG.  It's wrong as wrong can be, actually. If a person has chest pain equal to a 3 on a scale of 10, or her pain is down to a 4 from a 6, that does not mean we stop treating the chest pain, because ANY pain means the problem is still ongoing.  It's just seems like it's gotten better.  The goal is ZERO pain and we keep plugging away at reducing the pain as long as the patient can tolerate it, until we reach ZERO. Nada. Zilch.

The same is true for "isms."  Yes, improvement is desirable; it's encouraging and gives us incentive to keep fighting the good fight.  But it does not mean the "danger" has passed, because it has not.  It's just masquerading as being a "lesser" problem, which is even more dangerous, if you ask me.

So, we don't rest on our laurels. (What are laurels, anyway?  Shouldn't an author know the meaning of the words she uses?  Isn't that a rule somewhere?) We rejoice in the important step forward, and then say, "Nope, not good enough." That's right-we stay dissatisfied until the world is equally satisfying to those who are getting ripped off from enjoying what other people get to enjoy simply because their chromosomes and their brains don't agree.

There will be a backlash, and likely more than one.  But that can't stop progress.  You moms and dads out there who are helping your kids in being who they truly are- you folks have to be the warriors for your kids.  As if I'm telling you something you don't already know!! And you adults who have bravely lived hidden, and equally bravely refuse to hide anymore, you too are entitled to all of it.  The whole shebang- acceptance, love, marriage, child-rearing, work, education, safety, physical health and emotional wellness, by God-happiness, even. So yes, keep pushing that envelope. Any level of discrimination, exclusivity and hate above a zero means the problem is still threatening, and is therefore unacceptable. Keep fighting the good fight :)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We shall overcome

It is absolutely glorious that President Obama spoke the "T" word in his State of the Union address, two short days after Martin Luther King, Jr. day.  Glorious!!

Click on the link below for the part of President Obama's speech that mentions treating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons with dignity.

http://time.com/3676881/state-of-the-union-2015-barack-obama-transgender/

As the mom of my lovely daughter, DJ, and a sister to Bean, I am grateful and happy that this president, who has been much maligned since he took office, had the gonads to finally say what needs to be said!!!  Here's the kicker:  I watched a video that had real-time polling taking place among Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters. The Democrats approval stayed in the 90th percentile during this portion of his speech, and while the Republican's dropped into the 80th percentile, they were still overwhelmingly positive.  THIS from our conservatives!! That's absolutely wonderful.

So happy for you all, and happy for all of us.

XOXO-The Author

Click on the YouTube video for the entire speech.