Tag Archives: parenting

The secret transgender games

The older I get, the less patience I have. Or is it less tolerance? Maybe it’s both. Let me clear something up…

I’m just your every day Jane. I work for a living and raise my family pretty much like everyone else. I have bills to pay, dishes to do, and dog poo to pick up.  The fact that my daughter is transgender is kind of a non-issue. We help others when we can, with questions, suggestions for resources and those sorts of things, but we don’t have a show that we take on the road or anything like that. We’re not this odd entity that is different from the rest of the families who are working for a living and picking up dog poo. There are no secret transgender games going on behind our closed door. Disappointing, I know.

transgender-cereal

We are not keeping secrets from you (unless you’re the government and/or I owe you money), and there is no mysterious secret transgender life. You see, there is nothing really to tell. Unless you want to hear about how we argue over her lack of time-management skills with homework assignments, or how I’ve asked her for the 1,oooth time to pick up those dirty clothes, or maybe you’re interested in the endless hours she’s logged creating a virtual world in the Sims4?  Sound kind of teenagerish? That’s because it is.

She goes to school every day. It’s a regular public highschool. It’s not a school for the transgender. She wears 16-year-old clothes—jeans, leg warmers, sweaters, t-shirts, boots with heels higher than I would like—the kind that were bought at a regular old store. Not a store for the transgender. Sometimes she wears her hair up in a ponytail clip that we got at Walmart. Not the Walmart that is specifically for transgender, but the one just down the road—it’s closer. She occasionally wears cola-flavoured Chapstick, not the transgender flavoured kind. (I think that might be a special order item anyway.)

trans cake

And while we don’t play the transgender games, there are folks around us that are constantly trying to suck us in to theirs, but we resist. We refuse to let others define us.

Last week a new student started at my daughter’s school for semester 2. She is also a transgender girl and the teachers (in their infinite wisdom) thought the two should meet.

You know, because they’re the same.

Oddly though, they don’t introduce dark-skinned students to each other. Something like, “Hey Tyrone.. yeah, come meet our new student DeShawn, he just transferred here and you two should meet because, well, you’re both black.

wtf face

Also, I’m pretty sure there are a couple of kids with diabetes that go to the very same school and they have yet to be introduced.  An oversight maybe? And while I’m dragging you down into this hot mess of politically incorrect fuckery—do I even need to mention the plus-sized students? They certainly don’t get pulled aside to meet each other. Well, obviously, ’cause that’s just plain wrong.

Here’s the thing. Don’t label us. Actually, don’t label anyone. I know you’re trying to do a good thing, your heart is in the right place. But sometimes one step forward… is two steps back. Focus on making our communities a safe, positive space that is inclusive for everyone. Different skin colours, religions, and yes, those with diabetes (those poor souls) and the trans, and non trans, and yes, those struggling with weight issues… ’cause we’re all mixed up in this great big world together. Let people seek out other people on their own terms. And because they have more things in common than some label thrust upon them through social cataloging.

I may just be grouchy today, but, whatever. (Oh, and apologies to all of the Tyrones and DeShawns out there… you don’t have to be friends.)

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Filed under Awesome, parenting, transgender, world news

Seriously, go tell your sprogs.

birth announcement

 

“Last week, my daughter sat me down and explained that I didn’t actually have a daughter, I instead have a son.
I could tell he was nervous – but I do hope that he already knew that it wouldn’t change a single thing about our relationship except for the pronouns we use.
Actually, ALL children should know that. In an ideal world, it would be a profound and fundamental truth that they know in their bones. The one unshakeable gravity-fact they carry with them forever. If you haven’t actively told yours that you will love and support them, no matter what.. That their sexuality and gender expression are entirely irrelevant to the way you feel about them and treat them. Then you need to stop reading this right now and go and tell your sprogs.

Seriously.. Go tell them now.  It’s okay, I’ll wait. Stare deep in to their eyes in that way that makes them really uncomfortable so that they know that you mean it. ” – Kai’s mum.

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FREE one-day conference for parents

Calling all parents in southern Ontario! Loading up on information is a great way to be the best parent you can be. And FREE information… well that’s just awesome! Come and learn how to arm yourself and your children with positive identities.

ChangePosterFINAL

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Everything I know about parenting… I learned from Eddie Murphy.

 “You brought that shit on yourself.”

This is a fundamental truth that can’t be denied. Every behaviour (good or evil) that my kids have ever flirted with over the years, ultimately comes back to something that I did or didn’t do. (Like beat their backsides.)

When my daughter was about 5 or 6 years old, and testing my patience at bedtime with her sassy, finger-waggin’, talkin’-back, grumpy, drama-princess shenanigans, I put her to her room.  Of course she wanted to discuss/negotiate the terms of this bedtime confinement, and I was having none of it.  The noise from her mouth would just not stop. It was soul-sucking. When finally, at the brink of my despair, I expressed my discontent in a screamo pitch that set off all the car alarms in the neighbourhood.

 NOT. ANOTHER. WORD.

A slam of the door, and then sweet, blessed silence. Brilliant silence. Ahh… I had had the last word. I won. I was in control. I almost wanted to rejoice in song. (I may or may not have danced a jig.)

As the minutes of silence continued to stretch out, I had hoped and assumed that she had finally gone to bed. Bent to the will of my awesome parenting, she succumbed to doing as she was told. I smiled triumphantly as I came upstairs and got myself ready for bed—all the while mentally preparing my long-winded acceptance speech for the parent-of-the-year award.  It was then that I saw it. A single piece of paper sprawled across my pillow. It conveyed a significant message, but not a word was used.

IMG_20140113_200750

I brought that shit on myself.

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Bill Cosby: My wife was a beautiful woman… before the children came.

My oldest is graduating high school this year and heading off to college in the fall.  In the last six months he has gone from an innocent baby of 5 minutes old… to an experienced man of the world.  There have been a lot of firsts for both of us this year.  And as I cling to the shreds of my sanity whilst helping him to navigate this new stage of his life—I’m reminded of an old Bill Cosby bit. (Yes, I’m that old. )

Funny how these things get stuck in your head after all these years.  I had the original record—Himself—from 1982 as a teenager and used to play it after dinner in my room on my fancy new York stereo turntable. You know, before TV? As a teenager, I thought this was hysterical for an entirely different set of reasons. Oh, the innocence of my youth.

Now, back to my current read…

Shtty_Mom_cover

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To be a better parent, see yourself as a child.

The most common question I’m asked after appearing as a guest speaker for parents dealing with gender non-conforming youth, is “what one piece of advice could I give to parents that would help them begin to accept their child.”

child

Each time I’m asked this question, it’s like I’m being asked which end of the bull I would like to do battle with. I stare blankly back at the ask-er, and all coherent thought eludes me.

The truth is, I find this question quite troublesome. What kind of parent doesn’t accept their child as-is? And unfortunately, that immediate thought blocks out all others. (I excel in self-distractibility.) The trouble with being forthright with honesty is that I tend to offend. I’m the kind of gal that others refer to as… prickly. Not everyone can handle the truth.  And while I am learning how to make-nice and think of people’s feelings before I speak my truth (I still don’t think that should be my problem, however, I don’t make up these rules of engagement) in the end, I babble some feel-good jibber-jabber to confuse and distract, and then quickly move on to the next question.  

But everywhere I go—there it is. Like a dead albatross that I must wear for my crime of automatic acceptance. I have spent many a car-ride home contemplating a better response to this question.  One that is true, but also considerate. A philosophical conundrum for the passionately honest folk like myself. <ahem.>

After serious soul-searching, the only answer I’ve decided I can (or should) give is that which is true for me. Given my bedside manner (there’s a reason I’m not a therapist or social worker) I need to choose my advice wisely. 

My one piece of advice is actually two-fold. Appreciate life, and remember to see yourself as a child.  Most people don’t appreciate life the way that they should. It usually takes monumental adversity to scare-up the kind of appreciation for each moment of the day that you have available to love—and be loved.  Epiphanies can’t be taught.  Each person must find it for themselves.  And it must be practiced daily.  This kind of appreciation helps settle you. It directs your battles. It reduces fear, anger and frustration. If you are struggling with acceptance of who your child is, I encourage you to have an epiphany.  There are worse evils in the world that can be delivered to your doorstep.

Also remember that you are but a child yourself. As adults, we have wrapped ourselves in the glory of our own families and have forgotten the once upon a time of our youth.  The way in which you love your own children is the way that you are loved.  Denying it or not feeling your parents love does not constitute or guarantee its absence.  I may have grown up and become an adult and a parent, but I did not leave my youth behind as I might have thought.  It has been here, in me and around me, the entire time. The absolute truth of what I know is that your life is not a linear succession of milestones, but a vast circumference of love and memories.  I did not leave home and embark on my own life—home came with me.  Always and undeniably, I am but a child of my parents. 

baby hand

I have been lucky enough to have had several life-changing epiphanies.  Perhaps I didn’t get it the first few times—but you can read the one that stuck here.  With this understanding, I see parenting through the eyes of the mother AND the child.  Children look to their parents for comfort, nurture, safety, and acceptance. And if you love your children… you will swim the ocean, you will climb the mountain and you will go toe-to-toe with the boogeyman.

My advice is, go put your big boots on.

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Long overdue thanks.

I have a considerable number of thank you letters to write.  I have always been a procrastinator when it comes to these kinds of tasks, and I’m not certain why I can’t match my good intentions with the will to actually perform the deed. However, I have always had faith in myself that at some point in my life I would make restitution to all that have touched me.  That faith gives me the courage to continue to face the folks closest to me, time and time again.  At this point in my life it seems almost too monumental – and absurdly unfair – to let it go any further. Besides, I’ve learned some things.

gratitude

Last summer I was diagnosed with cancer.  In the months since then, I have been overwhelmed by everyday acts of kindness. They zoom in on me from all directions.   A kindness that I have never known and that has, at times, overshadowed the ugliness of this disease.  The word “kindness” doesn’t quite seem strong enough.  It’s an almost incompetent and somewhat inadequate description.  There is no word applicable or one that has my need for strength of conveyance.  With the exception of perhaps the word truth.  I have seen the inner truth of a lot of people lately, and I’m humbled and awed by the beauty of it.

The truth I have felt most significantly has been that of my parents.  As an adult, I have wrapped myself in the glory of my own family and have forgotten the once upon a time of my youth.  The way in which you love your own children is the way that you are loved.  Denying it or not feeling your parents love does not constitute or guarantee its absence.  I may have grown up and become an adult and a parent, but I did not leave my youth behind as I might have thought.  It has been here, in me and around me, the entire time.  This disease has given me new eyes to watch with, and a new heart to understand with.  The absolute truth of what I know is that your life is not a linear succession of milestones, but a vast circumference of love and memories.  I did not leave home and embark on my own life, home came with me.  Always and undeniably, I am but a child of my parents.  And through the truth of their everlasting strength and indomitable will, I have returned to their clutches for protection from death‘s threat.  Their arms did not open to embrace me, but had been open all along.  I had only to notice it.  There is no reservoir of gratitude deep enough nor wide enough for me to indulge, so however humbly, these are their letters.  I write these knowing that I haven’t the courage to stand before them and acknowledge what they have done for me, or continue to do.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for life.  Thank you for antiseptic on a scraped knee, years of clean clothes, sweet affection and your on-going, endless love.  Thank you for picking me up from school in that rusty-old-barely-red heap of a Toyota that at one time I thought I might die of embarrassment to be seen in.  For I know now that you came for me, it matters not how.  Thank you for the sleepless nights at your sewing machine, so that I might have new clothes for school.  Thank you for using a shampoo that smells of coconuts. When I’m engulfed in your arms, I’m reminded of good times with sunny days on the beach.  Thank you for tirelessly coming to my appointments, for holding my hand through bad news, and for your brave face through my diagnosis.  You have remained positive and courageous in the face of all that is evil to me.

Thank you for loving my children with such reckless abandon.  I have peace that your love will find them regardless of my circumstance.  Thank you for the times that you did not stand up for me.  Your weakness in those moments gave me the courage to stand up for us both, and showed me that in your moments of great courage, I, too, may show weakness.

As a mother myself, I do understand the all-encompassing scope of your feelings for me.  We have a link and a bond untouchable by any two other people in the universe.  You carried me, you loved me shamelessly through my teenage quirks and forced a smile through my most challenging of temperaments.  And through my grief of this disease, you carry me still.

I am so sorry for the tears that have touched your cheeks and the sobs that have kept you awake at night.  It seems a cruel punishment of nature that a mother should ever know the heartbreak that she may have to watch her child die, that you are helpless in preventing it and can only hold me and hope.  For you my greatest tears have been shed, and my greatest grief has been known to me.  I feel your sorrow as I felt with my own child years ago, mixed with the grief I feel in the possibility of a future separated from my children, by my own death.

Your suffering is unbearable to my heart. It consumes and overwhelms me at levels incomprehensible.  I pray silently in your presence for the courage of your strength.  Thank you for never believing that I have become too big to sit in your lap, and for stroking my hair while I cried for myself in your arms.  Thank you for allowing me to be 5 years old with you, everyday of my life.  I love you desperately and I need you more than I tell you.

Your loving daughter.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Dear Dad,

You have been more to me than my daddy.  You have been my teacher, mentor and friend.  I’m not sure what it is about little girls and their daddy’s, but I would believe anything you told me.  If you told me that I could grab a star from the night sky with my own fingers, I would believe every word, without question.  Because daddy said so, and I am your little kitten.

You have been the strong and vigil pillar of my life, never wavering.  You have plucked me out of danger and protected me from the boogeyman, real or imaginary.  You have been my hero and I have silently worshipped you.  You, the gentleman cowboy, with your mysteriousness and strength, you terrified me and mystified me… both at the same time.

Thank you for my shiny red toboggan, and for pushing my frozen and happy face down snowy hills for hours after your body told you to stop.  Thank you for giving me the room to make my own mistakes, for not handing me the solutions to my problems but turning me out to find them myself.  This has been an invaluable lesson in accountability, one which will find itself on the doorsteps of my children.

Thank you for always being approachable and giving me your undivided attention whether my rants be purposeful or not.  You have shown me great respect and I hope to be as dedicated to the feelings of others, as you have been to mine.  Thank you for never giving in to me, for never doting on me as daddy’s little girl, and for teaching me to face what life gives me with my shoulders up and integrity in my eye.  Thank you for teaching me the value of a soul, and for the kind nature that has been passed down through your genes.

It has never been easy for me to watch you cry, it feels as though the world is coming apart and all that was once secure is now shaken.  I have been selfish.  I have looked to you through a child’s eye for longer than my childhood.  My daddy is just a man.  A good man who weeps in the presence of a broken heart.  Forgive me for not recognizing the truly remarkable man you are, and have always been.

This disease has burdened your heart with such profound sadness and grief, and I am so sorry for it.  What is a daddy to do when he can no longer protect his little girl from the boogeyman?  Especially when that boogeyman creeps in silently in the night and wraps it’s fingers around her throat.  You admitted to me that you had asked that boogeyman to spare your child, and take you in return.  What depth of love you feel for me that you would beg God to die, so that I might live?  A sacrifice of such monumental proportions that my own soul aches confronted with such purity.  I’m ashamed and burdened with my own guilt that at one time I had offered you, for the life of my son.  My utter selfishness condemns my heart. Forgive me, once again.

For all the greatness you have shown me, thank you for the little things as well.  For shaving your head every time I had a round of chemotherapy.  Not because you would be hairless as I have been, but because you would understand that people look at you differently, and that you, like I, would spend time explaining ourselves to the ignorance of strangers.

The universe holds no boundaries for those that love with conviction, and I shall take you with me wherever my journey leads me and I will remain your little kitten, forever.  I love you desperately and need you more than I tell you.

Your loving daughter.

In writing these letters, I have determined that the vehicle of communication was not as important as the message.  So my regret in my lack of courage is superseded by my need to be heard.   Am I too hard on myself considering all the atrocities that we bestow upon ourselves and each other as human beings everyday?  I am no different, striving to find that perfect peace.  As a race we are a work in progress,  and I find it is a very interesting time to be alive.  Would I really want to live in a perfect world?  What revelations and growth would I achieve from eternal peace and harmony? Where would be the adventure and life altering epiphanies?  We struggle so hard, so that we might live.  Actually live.  We face extreme hardship and adversity so that we might experience unprecedented levels of joy and exultation.  The deeper our hurts, the stronger our love.

In facing cancer, my egotistical mind keeps asking why me?  But really, why not me?  This could be my opportunity, maybe it‘s my time to learn, or perhaps it’s my time to teach.  This lesson may not be for me, but for those who love me and are connected to me.

What greater cause of adversity could there be for me,  than to be able to allow those I love to stand beside me in battle with sorrow, so that they might truly appreciate their ability to live and to love.  What greater service could there be?  In the face of what they could lose, they might find again what was once lost to them, and feel the truth of each other.  And in sharing their truths with each other, there may be an awakening in them.  Something that moves beyond them and reaches out in kindness to strangers, this time for no reason other than that their truth must be told.  Hopefully, one day, it will not take death to loom near to teach us to live.  It is a day that I hope to see.  This cancer, my cancer, I’ve come to accept and appreciate.  It is the tool that teaches humility, even if I am the only student today.

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