RSS

A moment of truth

 

Green Field Very big

Green field

Jeremy attended a funeral yesterday.

It was the funeral of a friend’s mother.  She was 50, had been a Rover in Brisbane, was a single parent, was the mother of a young transman.  For Jeremy there were aspects of this funeral that hit very close to home.

When he arrived home last night he asked for cuddles.  J isn’t the snugglebug that his older brother is but he is never denied a hug ever.  He started by telling me that he didn’t realise just how hard R’s life must have been, that his mother had nothing and that R and two of his brothers had to pay for the funeral.  That in between his mother passing and the funeral yesterday R had not had a moment to sit and think about his loss.

“I said  to him Mum, that he could come to us any time, that we love him and if he needs anything to let us know”.

“I’m sure that was a comfort to him kitten”

“I gave him $50 out of my savings to help, I wish I could do more, I wish I had known how hard it was for him”.

That $50 would have come from one of his money making schemes that he has tried while he continues to look for work.  It represents hours of creativity or ingenuity.  I know J would not have had a second thought about giving it to someone who he saw had a greater need.  Money has been tight in our home with now three young men, two looking for work and experiencing difficulties connecting to Centrelink,  needing food and heat and electricity and internet and that $50 takes him a little further away from his name change.  I feel that sacrifice.

Jeremy also gave me an insight last night that all that I have worked for he has seen.  It’s a message that has been lost a little lately between us.

I am terribly sad that a fellow mother has lost her life.   J is right though, R is always welcome here.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 20, 2016 in parenting, transgender

 

Tags: , , ,

On the brink of transformation

13692200_649485131882639_1137234624_o

It’s been over six months since E joined our household.  They have been six pretty delightful months, E is a pretty cool guy, but from his perspective they have been six pretty challenging months too.

As I’ve written about before, when E first came to us he had been trying to access services in rural Victoria, on the border of NSW.   There was confusion about his referral and the original reason he came to stay with us was because he was hoping to have a face  to face meeting with the psychiatrist rather than a skype visit,  only to find his consult in Melbourne had been referred to Canberra….. little did we know it was the first of many challenges.

E was the kind of young man I would hold up as an example of how to do teen stuff right.  He worked for the major fast food chain, did the management training, I told J this would mean he would be in employment soon.  But six months on, countless job applications later and E has had a little cash in hand work and two job interviews.  We worked on his tax returns and he had some cash in his account and when this year’s group certificate came in he did his tax himself, teaching a man to fish in action.  He has been unable to register for government assistance, although I have finally talked him through the process of gently refusing the government line of “your parents will help” to keep standing up for himself and saying that they have not and it is unlikely they will.

There have been some significant wins though.  Through a little transgender community grapevine action he connected with a well known GP who had recently moved to a new practice with the ability to take on new patients who referred him to a psychiatrist with extensive experience in the LGBTIQ community.  E now has his “diagnosis” and two weeks ago had his first T shot.  He has also started progressing through the recruitment process for an employer in a field in which he is interested in working.  It’s a field where being 21 and with no experience is not seen as a barrier as he is viewed as young, enthusiastic and a model for a new generation of disability carers, if he is successful.

His smile is wider, that gorgeous enthusiasm that marked him as someone special when we first met is bubbling to the surface again.  My heart couldn’t be gladder for him.

 

 

 

 
Comments Off on On the brink of transformation

Posted by on July 17, 2016 in parenting, transgender

 

Tags: , ,

Why T is not the answer

13548771_643356389162180_395226605_o

I’ll level with you, I have started this blog post about a hundred times.  My feelings about  Jeremy are so mixed each time I try and write it I get confused and my attempts to rationalise and unpick it gets sidetracked.

But here it is.  Testosterone was not the answer.  It has been a significant part of the answer but it has not been the solution in totality.

Since November Jeremy has been finished with school work.  In the last week he finally got to Centrelink to  register for Youth Allowance.  In between he has floundered in a sea of anxiety, lack of direction and dysphoria.  I’ve done my best to provide love and support but my patience and my bank balance are wearing thin.

For nearly three years we held onto a D date of Jeremy’s 18th birthday and his first injection of T.  On reflection I had no idea what I expected from this injection.

He is becoming more masculine day by day and that is fricking awesome.  His sideburns are epic and his goatee and sideburns are starting to meet on the sides of his face.  His voice is deeper and there are even times when he is comfortable without wearing his binder.

But those mental health issues that sent us to a psychologist pre-transition are still there.  They are exacerbated when he meets people in the general public that, despite beard and deep voice, somehow still misgender him.  Dealing with Government organisations has a special challenge, and I am pleased that the Federal government employees in Newport Victoria are much more aware of gender diversity than their counterparts in Werribee.

So mothers and fathers – I thought the step of starting T would be a bigger solution than it was.  It was a significant step but if I have learned anything from the last six months it’s that Jeremy has hopes and dreams about his physicality.  There are dreams that I have offered to make a reality but he is still considering the implications for himself.  He understands that he is in a position of privilege.  It doesn’t alleviate the underlying feeling that he has that his journey is just starting.  It doesn’t help when he feels that taking the first step isn’t accepted or understood.

It’s so unfair.  I see his peers at Uni, getting part time jobs.  He is so bright and engaging and that bundle of contrary actions that has bewitched me for nineteen years.  His legacy was supposed to be bright and successful.  The poor kid can’t even prove his identity because the forms are overwhelming and the questions daunting despite my support, love and credit card.

Time to put on my big girl panties and keep fighting the good fight.  Because if the world won’t voluntarily step toward J, I will damn well make sure it does under duress.

 

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

#translivesmatter

13179353_10208028107913485_8785966468554165626_n

It’s been a tough 24 hours.

Yesterday I saw a heartbreaking post from a mother in the US.  She shared simply and starkly that her daughter had taken her life.

It is my worst nightmare, summed up in thirteen words from a woman I have never met.  Her pain came through the screen of my phone.

Jeremy is finding that, despite thirteen months of testosterone treatment, he is still misgendered.  He is struggling with multiple issues.  I worry that the internal struggle is being heightened by the constant barrage of public opinion, face to face and in the media, that he feels like he is a square peg in a world of round holes.  I worry that despite my best efforts, I am “just mum” and my love and support will not be enough to keep him here.  In the last 24 hours it has been brought home that I am not alone in this fear.

I find myself angry at those who should be leading the way to acceptance.  In the US recently there has been a number of bills passed in various states restricting the rights of transgender people.  Most notable has been the Bill passed in North Carolina which made it illegal for a person to use a public bathroom unless it is the bathroom that “matches” the gender on their birth certificate.

Let that sink in.

The government is saying that if you are a transgender person, they know better than you which bathroom you can use, plus now they can have you charged for not using the bathroom they say you should use.  Since the passing of this bill, I have heard various reasons for this restriction.  None of the reasons are based in fact but are being chanted ad nauseam by the wider public.

It is discrimination of the worst, lowest, most narrow minded kind.  It plays on the fear of the unknown that I wrote about previously, it encourages the hatred and aggression that is already evident in society about transgender people.  But to my mind, most importantly, it invalidates the lives of transgender people.  It says to transgender people, regardless of who you are, we know better and you are wrong to think the way that you do.

Here in Australia the conversation is less focused on transgender people and more aimed at the entire LGBTIQ community.  We have the extreme conservative right wing politicians getting air time to slander a program designed to educate and familarise young people about LGBTIQ issues.  They would prefer the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent on the chaplaincy program to remain unscrutinised while focusing on the content on this program and citing this as the justification for their vile hatred.  Underpinning this is their biased fear that Australia will vote in marriage equality and somehow this will end society as we know it.  I hope it does, because our society is a cold place for my child right now.

As parents we seek to shield our children.  We sail into battles against bullies and teachers and other parents.  We ban sugar and limit tech time and set rules for grandparents.We work hard and set good examples and make meals that contain kale.  We trust that when we send our children out into the wider world, and our children follow the rules, dress nicely, speak politely that they will be met with the same respect.  But when governments publicly incite hatred by the passing of discriminatory bills or give air space to religious conservatives, the general public follow suit. Not just follow suit but go to extreme measures.  The number of posts I have seen, written by people who say “I’ll shoot a transgender if I find them in a bathroom with my daughter”, “I’d bash a transgendered person if I saw them in a public restroom”  takes my breath away with the violence and hatred expressed. It is everywhere, it is scary and it’s tolerated and it’s held up as a model of not allowing society to degenerate, of the pushback against acceptance that “needs to happen”.

I’ve said before that I think that these attitudes proliferate because being transgender is so far removed from “ordinary” life that it is easier to hate the different.  It is a story repeated over and over again in history and I could be talking about people of colour in the 1950’s or homosexuals in the 1960’s or the hatred aimed at people of the Muslim faith today.  So many people have not met a transgender person and so their attitude comes from a faceless fear.  That lack of familiarity that leads into hatred and that puts lives at risk and continues to be validated by governments.

Yesterday a mother lost her child.  It may not have been preventable.  But in my heart I believe that if the public conversation about transgender people was more positive, understanding, one pressure from a young life would have been removed. She would have been confident that society would accept her and that may have changed her mind.

I am angry and I am scared.  Transgender youth are the bravest people I know.  It kills me how we as a society fail them by not making the world safe for them.

 
 

Tags: , , ,

When the safety net slips

12919214_1389899504368949_1303285219_nThere are times when those outside of the family, those who come into our lives by other means, need a hand.

Since January we have had a friend of J’s living with us.  It started off as a “Could E stay until the end of his course next week” and has stretched into a couple of months.  It was evident pretty early on that this friend needed a shoulder, a hand to hold on to.

As a 21 year old transgender male, E had not accessed any services. Living in a rural part of NSW, just over the NSW / Vic border there was even confusion about where he should have initial appointments.  Toss in parents who are, naturally, confused, angry and not accepting and we had a young man who could not go home, either to mum or dad.

I have had plenty of reason to thank the love of a benevolent god that led me to some amazing GP’s in my area.  My GP has taken over Jeremy’s treatment as the clinic that I thought we were going to does not have the capacity  to take over J’s regular testosterone shots.  This lovely GP has also assisted E in accessing services so he now has a referral  to the adult gender clinic in our city and will receive assessment and initial treatment.  We have talked through this option and reassured him that this a good thing, despite some negative comments there is a perception that this clinic is not the best.  What I will say is that those who speak highly, speak really highly of the treatment that they receive and that is good enough for me as a starter.

J is still looking for work.  The small voice of my baby that asks “are employers looking at my Facebook and deciding that they don’t like me” is so full of self doubt that it tears at my heart.  E is also looking for work, he is unable to access Centrelink as his parents both say that he can come home, which technically he could.  But he is reluctant to go home to a place where his previous name is used or he is told that being transgender “isn’t a thing”. So they are home, trying to stay active and keep the house clean.  E is doing some baby sitting.  But I get that it is hard.  Jeremy has a hotchpotch of ID, the guy can’t even buy beer because he can’t prove who he is and that is purely down to our disorganisation.  E has to look for work using his previous name because this is all so new he has not had the resources to even take the first step.

With 1.2% (approx) of the population being transgender and with awareness of transgender issues growing, the limited resources that are established are not meeting the need in our state, unless you can pay.  For some young people $60 for an initial GP consultation is beyond their means.  I am eternally grateful that those services are there though.  That doesn’t change the fact though that vulnerable young people need a helping hand navigating through the medical system.

I have no answer today.  I have to keep in mind that each person’s journey is unique and there is never a one size fits all solution.  I am pretty stoked that there is a light for E as he sends off his info and waits for his first appointment.

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

So why do we do this?

12776718_1359419307416969_174057485_o

Coffee with my J dude is a special treat.  Yes we do ignore each other until the coffee arrives, focusing on the screens of our phones, but when the coffee hits the table we are all talk and focus.  Yesterday we took some time to reflect on the amazing journey that we had this week.

I was so proud on Monday to stand with parents of transgender children at Parliament House as we talked to politicians about the urgent need to change the Family Law Act so that transgender children do not have to go to court to get permission to be treated by their physicians.  It is no longer an issue that affects us, our journey however has never just been about us.

For the last three and a half years I have watched families struggle, I have seen marriages end, I have provided advice and support to those who struggle with single parenthood and a transgender child. I have held my hand out to young people who have become disconnected from their families.  I have received support and love from people who have become friends that may be around the corner or on the other side of the world.

Last Monday was an amazing step for Australian transgender children. We participated in a formal event where we heard medical and legal information about what needs to change.  Then we heard two moving stories from beautiful young women, one whose mother has fought for years and through her tenacity changed Australian law via a full bench of the Family Court challenge (and subsequent decision) for the benefit of all transgender children, then another for whom the clock is ticking and who needs the law to change for teens like her.  Meeting these mothers was like homecoming, because at the very start of my journey I was connected to them by their stories.  I was sitting in an office at the RCH and asked if Jeremy would just stop all this and go back to being normal.  Instead I received reassurance and the story of these two families, de-identified.  Last Monday I realised that it was the stories of these two families that helped give me the strength to keep going.

Over three years later we still keep going, because there is so much to do.  Access to appropriate treatment for transgender youth in Australia for a start, agitating for the removal of treatment of gender identity disorder from the list of special medical procedures in the Family Law Act,many conversations need to be had.  But there are many voices to join me.

As part of this week’s spectacular events Jeremy spoke openly on radio about what not being able to access cross hormone treatment did to him physically and emotionally.  He was joined by the awesome Georgie, please, enjoy.  Life Matters – 22022016

 
Comments Off on So why do we do this?

Posted by on February 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Stop being so scared

12737039_581003058730847_1147040565_o

Eek it’s been a tough week in the media, with a lot of haters.

Read this – The Age

then this The Australian

then this news.com

then read this Ginger Gorman on News.com

The first three articles are fear mongering, biased pieces with a slim grasp on facts.  The last article is beautiful piece from a journalist and a mother who just wants to stop the fear and hate.

Like all things transgender, the more sensational the details, the more the media clamours.  Joe and Jenny Public are eternally fascinated by the weirdness of being transgender.  It is, for so many people, an experience that is so far out of their ordinary that they lap up salacious details and want justification to not be educated because that may be uncomfortable.  Such is human behaviour.

I am only one small voice – but I hope always that my voice will be joined by other small voices to become the insistent voice of love, acceptance and right.

Safe Schools has always been an LGBTIQ focused service, in that their information sessions are aimed to educate teachers about LGBTIQ specific challenges in their student population.  The first three above articles are evidence that LGBTIQ education is needed, because the fear mongering in mainstream media is just that, fear mongering.

Jeremy did not have the benefit of schooling with teachers who received Safe Schools inservice training.  I have told his story here, as it unfolded in heartbreaking episode after heartbreaking episode.  His education has suffered, his future is not the rosy tertiary educated future I always imagined.  I have often pondered how different his future would have been if Safe Schools had had the resources to get into his school that year, if then he could have hung on the final two years of formal schooling instead of floundering with distance education.

What I have heard over the last couple of years is story after story of successful inservice sessions at schools around the country that teach teachers that LGBTIQ students need some adult understanding in the form of modelling positive behaviours.  For transgender children, this layer of protection is vital.  It lifts my heart to hear parents telling stories of their transgender or gender fluid children attending school and learning and playing and growing.  So when you deny Safe Schools the opportunity to demystify being transgender, you deny a child safe education. Because those adults that are up in arms are raising children who get up in arms and those children outnumber transgender children significantly.

This is what I know:

  • having your child go to school with LGBTIQ students will not affect your child
  • having Safe Schools come in to deliver inservice or talk to students will not make your child LGBTIQ
  • having teachers who have received training from Safe Schools leads to school environments where all students accept each other and get on with learning
  • Safe Schools do not teach your children how to be gay or transgender

The fact is that your children will express their sexual preference at some point.  If your child is transgender then they will also express this at some point.  How you deal with that is your choice as a parent.

What I find distressing is that there is a need for Safe Schools at all.  I recognise that their need is vital as evidenced by the tsunami of inaccurate and hateful articles proliferating in Australian media at the moment.

Finally, a word about to the Australian Christian Lobby.  Real Christians have gay and lesbian and transgender and intersex children.  Real Christians love those children, treasure them and recognise them as the mighty miracles they are.  God does not make mistakes, therefore these amazing children are not mistakes, they are part of the diverse panoply of human existence and are loved in God’s eyes.

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 101 other followers