Do you want to be me?

Recently there have been conversations in the parenting groups that  I am a part of about those who seek to become a part of these groups and yet are not parents, family or caregivers of a transgender person.Jeremy and Jo July 2016  It has provoked some anguish, as there have been instances where a person has come in, and I hate to say be deceitful but that has happened, and then shared personal information outside of those groups.

What many don’t understand, what can’t be understood is that for many this is a personal and sometimes painful journey. I would be kidding myself if I could say, hand to heart, that I understood the pain and fear of cancer treatment, or the loss of a baby or caring for a parent with Alzheimers.  That is not my reality.    So the challenges of my journey and those on this path are our own.

Like many others, at the start of my journey I went looking for others like me.  By joining a closed or secret Facebook group of parents like you, you can share things that many can’t share anywhere else.  We come looking for love and support but also the “me too” experience.  “Ahhhhh your son had a super girly phase before he transitioned, so did mine!!!!” moments and similar discussions create an enormous amount of relief, a sense of belonging at a time in parenting where you can feel terribly alone.  For some families it is their only space to be able to express themselves as they live “stealth” in their communities.  So to find that despite the best efforts of incredibly hard working volunteer administrators someone has slipped through the net can be incredibly distressing.

So I’ve been pondering what would motivate someone to pose as a parent of a transgender child; in the words of my beloved sister I got curious instead of furious.

There is no denying there has been a rise in the profile of transgender people in the four years that I have been on this journey with Jeremy.  Some media has been amazing, informative, well researched, and articulate.  There have been strong,beautiful parents and caregivers who put a public and human face on being transgender and raising a transgender child.  Then there are the articles, television programs, a bit more sensationalist, but  that reach a  broader audience and still manage to get the message out that up to four in a hundred children will challenge your idea of parenting.   There are the countless bloggers who share their raw experiences, who let you into their home.  Each parent who puts their story out there does so because they believe that the the more positive information that is out there, the better the world can become for our children.  I also believe that we do this for those who can’t.

So from the outside looking in, for the person who is not going through what we are going through, I guess we look inspirational.  I’ve realised it’s because we are.

So to every parent who can’t speak out, I have seen you.  I have seen you when you have had to play parent, housekeeper, mediator and suddenly therapists when in the middle of  your busy family day one child’s dysphoria becomes overwhelming.  I have seen you driving across country to meet each other.  I have seen you go toe to toe with schools, insurance companies, medical professionals and governments to demand rights for your child.  I have heard the quiet whisper that this may become overwhelming, only to see you get up the next morning to give the world a great big middle finger and keep going. I have witnessed a million moments of love and pride.  I have wept with you when you have trusted me with your child’s pain.

I have watched in awe as you have woven safety nets, under children that have been rejected by families, under each other in moments of medical or marital crisis.  I have had my hand held tight by men and women who I have never met but who completely understand the raw heart-searing pain that can occur when your child feels alone and isolated and you just can’t help, all you can do is love.

I have heard the exasperation when you have been asked for what feels like the ten thousandth time if your child has had “the surgery”.  You take up the sword daily for basic rights:

  • the right to use a public bathroom unhindered
  • the right to access treatment
  • the right to be recognised by their chosen name on school records, government records
  • the right to be spoken to using preferred pronouns
  • the right to to have medical professionals treat your child with dignity.

I watched you create a new family when your own family has rejected your child and your decision to support them.  You have shared when you patiently, albeit through gritted teeth, explained to the well meaning friend or relative that the particular article they have found is not written by the eminent professionals it appears it was but by hate groups.  You know where to find the statistics that show that you child is not just going through “a phase”.

You made a choice when you listened to your child.  You opened your heart to a different possibility of parenting.  Even though you may never have met a transgender or gender diverse person you reached out for resources and found groups of parents on a similar path.  You accepted your child, and there are days that are hard and shitty and yet you still turn up.  You turn up because one of the miracles in your family needs you.  You turn up because your child’s smile is precious and seeing it is its own reward.  You turn up because their happiness is your breath.  You are the tireless voice even when you are so very tired.  You are a million conversations with strangers to demystify being transgender / gender diverse.  You are signatures on petitions  to have discriminatory laws overturned from bathroom bills to access to cross hormone treatment.  You are strong voices howling into the maelstrom of life that our children are valid, wonderful and miraculous, look them in the eye and keep trying to deny our truth.

For so many of us, maybe all of us, this is not a path that we would have chosen for our child.  The statistics of increased discrimination, bullying, abuse and violence are frightening.  But instead of denying our children, we became voices.  Some voices are very public, but for each public voice there are potentially thousands more who are changing the world through quiet conversation and local action.    Then there are those who can only support the life that is their responsibility.  Each contribution is valid and treasured.

The online groups are special circles of love and trust.   They trust comes because we are all walking the same path.   There is a reason why we are there and why we may share certain joys and pain there.  There are those who are happy to share more widely, but for those who do not they have the right to privacy.

So I get why someone would want to explore further by walking among us.  When you skim across the surface our lives look glamorous with a soupcon of drama.  These groups are a  rich source of inspiring stories of love and joy and pain and triumph.  It’s no excuse though, there are so many of us willing to put a public face or voice to the journey through transition.  For those who wish to be private, that wish should be respected.

A final word for my fellow parents and caregivers.  We are thousands of stories of ordinary people on an extraordinary parenting journey.  What binds us is that we are testament to the power of love.


Posted by on August 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


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.


Posted by on August 20, 2016 in parenting, transgender


Tags: , , ,

On the brink of transformation


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


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: , , , , , , ,



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?


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