Tag Archives: male to female

My MTF Daughter: An open letter to her friends

My beautiful girl

My beautiful girl

I understand that there are a great deal of you out there struggling for the courage to tell your parents, family and friends who you really are.  I can’t even fathom how scary that must be.  Here I am born into a body that suits me just fine.  But I did have cancer once, so I know what it feels like to have that separation of mind and body and to also feel betrayed by that body. It’s not the same I know, but it’s a close as I can come to walking your walk.

When my extraordinary daughter confided in me that she was born in the wrong body, she did so in a letter. Well, an email really. As close as we are, she could not tell me this to my face. And I don’t blame her. In her email (sent from her bedroom to mine) she got right to the point in a single paragraph, and included explicit instruction not to speak to her about it in person. So, what did I do? I marched right in there and started a conversation.  She was so scared and nervous that it broke my heart. It no longer mattered what the conversation was, I just wanted her to feel comfortable to talk to me and be herself with me.  My girl was amazing.  She was quiet and patient and no matter what I said or asked, her response was a tentative and gentle “I love you.” Genius, right? That’s my girl.

It took a long time for life to return to “normal” but we found our groove and I learned to go at her pace. (Sometimes she had to remind me to slow down.) I took on the responsibility of telling the rest of the family, and I did so without her present. I assume acceptance, I don’t ask for it. But, people need time to digest. To ask questions, to understand what it is that we’re telling them. There is a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation out there that has left a negative stigma attached to transgender. It takes time to cut through that crap and undo the falsehoods. I found it easier to avoid the word transgender in the beginning. I came at it sideways and let my family know that my son was actually my daughter… with a hormone problem. A treatable hormone problem. And then I asked them for their help. People generally want to help. They want to feel useful. Giving my family members a task helped ease them into the transition of letting go of an assigned sex, and seeing her for the person she’s always been.

When it came time to tell her friends, my girl wrote them a letter too. This one was a little longer, a little more thought-out, and she planned to post in on Facebook the night that all of her friends would be at their grade 8 graduation. My girl didn’t want to attend, and I don’t blame her for that either. If you can’t party in sequins and lace, it ain’t a party.  Once she posted it, we sat together in a cuddle on the sofa on pins and needles waiting for the dance to end and the comments to begin. We were beside ourselves with fear, and the wait was excruciating. But finally, they came. They came in droves. And the support was overwhelming. It brought tears to my eyes and my girl was floating around on cloud nine. We hugged and danced and laughed at our own silliness. To all the people who left a comment of support on my girl’s Facebook page that night… thank you, thank you, thank you. From the very bottom of my mommy heart.

My girl has given me permission to repost that letter to her friends here. I hope that it may inspire some of you to find the words and courage to let go of all that you’re not, and live each day with who you really are.

Mackenzie-letter

**Update – You can read more of our story, or find tools for acceptance in my new ebooklet, an unwanted penis. Now available on Amazon, and coming soon to an e-retailer near you. Spread the word and help more of our youth gain acceptance from their parents. #anunwantedpenis

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Filed under Awesome, parenting, transgender

the mother of all things—acceptance

Last night I was lucky enough to be able to speak to a large group of students studying Social Sciences at McMaster University.  I’ve done many public speaking gigs before, so the size of the audience wasn’t intimidating, it was the nature of the lecture that I found paralyzing. I stood before them not as a business woman—but as a mother.

As with everything that is to be taught and learned in our lives, I behooved these students to be as objective as they could be, while listening to a subjective story-teller whose passion was animated enough to convince them the sky was green.  I was speaking from personal experience and the subject matter was the single most important thing in my life. My children; one of whom is a transgender girl.

I stood before them explaining that throughout time, nature has given us two kinds of mothers. There are those mothers who will stop at nothing to protect their young, or the young of others. And then there are those who will abandon or eat their own young.  I reduced this battle of altruistic versus egoistic behaviour to it’s simplest—without getting into a philosophical debate with regard to perspectives of the beneficiary—as the basis for my introduction.  Although, in person… I’m not quite as refined. I can never remember, is it always cuss in front of the students or never cuss in front of the students?

the mother

So what kind of mother am I?  I’m a T. Rex.  Top of the food chain, baby.

I explained that in no way was I faulting the mothers who abandon their young.  They are the opposite side of the maternal coin in a tricky balance of nature. In earlier periods, this behaviour was self-preservation from the world they lived in; where predators of all sizes loomed above them.  With mortal danger imminent, they would sacrifice their young to save themselves.  And, although the nature of those dangers have long since disappeared for us humans—the evolution of this continued fear of “being eaten alive” by predators has perpetuated the fight or flight mothering divide.  Abandon your young to save yourself.

Humans could not have survived in nature without the charity and reciprocity of a group or individual. For the young that have been kicked out of the nest, that’s where these students will come in. One day they will be part of the necessary support system that will show these individuals that altruistic behaviour does exist.  They will help these people understand that they are loved, accepted and necessary—regardless of the reasons they were abandoned by their mothers.  The mother’s choice to abandon is ALWAYS about the mother.

acceptance

Part of the adaptation into a happy and “normal” lifestyle for all those condemned as different will be based on how they are treated.  How we react to the needs of our youth—right here and now today—will set precedents for future generations.  Do NOT segregate people into boxes of conformity. Do NOT place labels of identification on our young that will later be used for discriminatory injustices against them—and Do NOT fix what isn’t broken. (Can I get a hells yeah?)

This is the opportunity to re-define “normal” and trip the natural balance to praise the uniqueness of ALL people, instead of pointing fingers at the differences. Let “normal” become the outcast.  Burst forth into your lives with passion and focus your educated eyes of therapy on those who need it—the mother who abandoned her young and the judgmental predators who stalk her.

abandon

Many thanks to Will Rowe of The Well, who invited me to speak to the students and also for all that he does in his work in social services and support of youth.  The force is strong my friend, the future is ours.

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Filed under non-fiction, parenting, transgender, world news

My MTF daughter: An ordinary life with an extraordinary girl

For some reason or another, my blog has become less personal over the last few years. I’ve shared stories, news, videos and pictures, but nothing that is really personal—from the uberscribbling heart—so to speak.  That’s about to change. The uberscribbler is more than just an author, public speaker and social media junkie.  There are more stories to share, things that need to be said, and thoughts that I need to send out to the universe via the world-wide web. And so with a deep breath…

On Feb 9, 1998 I was in a delivery room at McMaster hospital in Hamilton.  I was 26 weeks into pregnancy and wildly distraught that I was losing my baby.  After a blur of white-coat activity, my second child came in to this world weighing 1121 grams. The celebration of life was announced to the room with three simple words. It’s a boy.

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15 years later, I find myself reflecting on that moment quite often. Announcing the biological anatomy of a baby at birth seems like a misnomer.  It has become a delivery room habit—almost a rite of passage for new parents. The sex of that child can mean different things, to different walks of life all over the world. For some parents, that determination can be crucial to their lives and that of the child.  In delivery rooms around the world, the air is thick with anticipation, until the obligatory sex declaration has been uttered.  It is then that life for that child begins—in an assigned role.

Sometimes nature gets it right and we don’t think it has—so we fix what we think it broke.  In this day and age, it is estimated that still more than 30% of the world’s male population (aged 15 and over) are circumcised.  From infancy.  Not from infection, or medical conditions, but just because—and without their consent.

Sometimes nature gets it wrong.  And I don’t blame her.  With all that we’ve done to her planet and the environment, it surprises me that we don’t see more birth anomalies as she digs in to protect herself—letting us know the only way she knows how.

It was 15 years ago my child was born with just such an anomaly. It wasn’t club feet, cleft palette, fused limbs, missing digits, dwarfism, intersex (hermaphrodite), down-syndrome or anything else that you could identify through sight alone.  According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 1 in every 33 babies is born with a birth anomaly (defect).  For as technologically and intellectually advanced as we believe ourselves to be, we still only count what we can see with our own eyes and observe through biology.  Anything that doesn’t match the majority is considered defective, like we’re some sort of assembly line where all end product must look and act the exact same way or it’s scrapped as faulty goods. We’ve instituted our own quality control on what it means to be human.

But what about the anomalies that you can’t see right away? The ones that require the collection of your other senses and the ability of the child to communicate?

mackenzie2

“Mommy, when I grow up… I want to be beautiful.” – Mackenzie, aged 3

I knew from a very early age that my child didn’t fit the mold.  I suspected that my son was not my son at all.  But this made me afraid. I angrily blamed society and its narrow acceptance of gender roles and made excuses to others who bullied and pointed fingers at my “sissy” feminine son.  Why is it OK for young girls to be a tomboy but not the other way around? I wrote letters to the President, the Premier, the UN, McDonald’s Corporation, and Mattel Toys asking them to use their positions of corporate power to stop perpetuating gender stereotypes. All the while, I ignored the pleas for help from my child and made assumptions that inevitably cost my child 14 years of true comfortable happiness. I violated my oath as a parent, which was to love unconditionally and do no harm.  Sometimes… doing nothing IS the harm.

It did not matter to my child if the world accepted them—only that I did. I adopted a new oath, “Love your child unconditionally, do no harm, and let them lead the way.

It was then that I learned the word transgender.

I’m not the kind of person that subscribes to labels.  I’m not racist or prejudice and I don’t put people in boxes.  I don’t like segregation.  People are just people—although I know as a society, we have a long history of unnecessary evil against each other.  I also don’t like the term “trans” (Latin for ‘beyond’) assigned to people.  There is nothing good, decent, or “right” about treating or referring to someone as beyond gender.  Giving them labels, and segregating them to their own groups does just that.  It points a finger at their different and unique individuality and infers that they are sub-human.  Not cool.  We don’t use the term transgender in our family, it is irrelevant.  Just as I don’t walk around the house referring to each other as Caucasian. We are what we are—and that is refreshingly unique.

It turns out that my son is actually my daughter, with a biological anomaly.  She was born with a hormone problem—too much testosterone in utero—which consequently led to the growth of testes and a penis. Her brain, personality and personal identity are all female, and always have been.  How did this happen? I don’t know, how do any birth anomalies happen?  All I can say is that we judged a book by its cover.

My daughter is so much more than just the sum of her biological parts. And I don’t want the cover to be her story. It’s time to move forward. As a parent, I have had to make some difficult decisions for the benefit of my child. I medically halted her puberty at 14 years of age, and I introduced her young body to estrogen.  When she is old enough, she will undergo surgery to correct this birth anomaly. (Currently covered under healthcare in some parts of Canada.)  I have received a lot of criticism over this, but I understand that people fear what they don’t know.  Fear and ignorance is the stuff that bullies are made of. I realized early on that any trouble I had with what my child was telling me, was more about me then it was her. I can never let my selfishness stand in the way of the absolute love and acceptance that my children deserve from me as their mother.  This was not a choice—for either of us.

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We are almost one year in now from her diagnosis. She is 15 years old, a junior in highschool, and she is a happy, confident, and self-aware teenage girl. She continues to teach me the value of courage, and I hold that lesson very sacred.  She is willing to lose everything to be true to herself and to help teach understanding for the acceptance of others like her. What could be more selfless than that?  It is with her encouragement, that I begin to tell you our story.

**Update – The video that used to be here is no longer available. As with any post that is 5 years old, things change. My daughter is living an extraordinary life… her life, and I support her decisions for a relatively anonymous life. Who doesn’t want that? Well, except maybe the Kardashians. 

You can read more of our story, or find tools for acceptance in my ebooklet, an unwanted penis. Available on Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other e-retailers near you. Spread the word and help more of our youth gain acceptance from their parents. #anunwantedpenis

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Filed under non-fiction, parenting, transgender, world news