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Monthly Archives: July 2013

When you are not sure which toilet use

I have a dawning realisation.

Last Friday night was Jeremy’s high school Year 10 formal.  Jeremy didn’t go, I didn’t even know about it (mostly because I rely on Jeremy to tell me about school stuff – it’s a trust thing).  I saw pictures of a friend’s beautiful daughters, exquisite young women who looked divine with wide smiles of excitement.  I smiled looking at their photos, reminiscing about past formal events, how much fun you can have all dressed up and before you are old enough to drink.

School camp is coming up.  Jeremy did tell me about this last term.  He was keen for a day or so then said that it was to Brisbane, so he wasn’t really interested.  Fair enough I thought, Brisbane is a second home to us, but still, a week away on a bus with your school friends, goofing off.  Jeremy said no though.

I asked about the formal.  Jeremy said he didn’t go because the person organising it doesn’t like him.  I don’t put much stock in these comments, we are a family prone to hyperbole.  School has been strewn with stories of thieving kinder kids all of whom took jumpers,books and lunch boxes, everyone having a tamagotchi, all the teachers hating him, all the kids on the bus don’t like him.  You learn to sift the wheat from the chaff.

I think, however, I have found the key.  Jeremy is fine committing to situations where we are in people’s homes or places he is familiar with.  But what happens when you are somewhere new?

Jeremy has never coped well with change.  He hated moving as he got older (past the age of five), wanted to know where we were going, leaving times and coming home times and all points in-between.  If we had people over for dinner he would want to know menus, guests, arrival times.  Changes to plans would put him into a spin. He looked to me for constancy having a parent who spent weeks away at a time away for work.

So maybe the key to the current reluctance lies in something very simple.  When you are already anxious there are some things that become insurmountable.  So I go back to the title.  In the face of all the above, suddenly something as simple as going to the toilet is fraught.  When you no longer feel comfortable using the girl’s toilet and you get looks using the boy’s toilets your options are limited.  Usually the disabled toilet is an option but that is not always available. So the school formal, on top of being a social situation in an environment where you don’t feel comfortable already, what would happen if there was no disabled toilet?   If you are on camp, who do you bunk in with?

So currently Jeremy’s horizon is slightly narrowed.  I have to take a step back and acknowledge that Jeremy has a rich and full life with many and varied experiences.  Together we will start the conversation to address the day to day issues that will open his horizon again.

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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Righteously Mad

An awesome piece about opinion and a window into what others perceive as “fake trans”

In Our Words

By: Lucian Clark

Why do trans* people act so sensitive when you discuss trans* identities? Why do they get so uptight and righteous when you start talking about the obviously fake trans* people and not them? Why do they get so upset when you misgender someone out of spite? It’s not like you were talking about them! You’re just talking about the bad trannies who give queer people a bad name! People shouldn’t get so upset about that!

When you talk about people as a collective, you are talking about them. You are telling people it is ok to do these things as long as someone sees them as bad, wrong, or incorrect. You are telling others and setting an example of behaviors that are never OK to do to anyone. You are tone and identity policing people.

“Why do trans* people act so sensitive when you discuss trans* identities?”…

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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Watch your pronouns or “hey, it’s great to grieve”

The little event that prompted this post happened a couple of months ago.

It was the first shared weekend at the farm, perhaps the March long weekend if memory serves me correctly.  The house was full, David and myself, Luke, Jeremy and David’s cousin his wife and two of their kids – lots of fun being had.  After the cousin’s had gone home Jeremy was scowling.   I had asked him to do something, pick up his shoes maybe, and I received a snappy “watch your language when you talk to me”.

I fired up, I do not cope with unjustified touchiness.

Snap, snap, harsh words being passed, thinking to myself “I don’t have these fights with my eldest”, tears welling.

“You said ‘she’ “.

“Jeremy, you have to be patient.  This all takes getting used to, I am trying but I will make mistakes”.   Then I realised – you took my baby away.  You, with that familiar but alien face, familiar but alien attitude.  I feel that I have had to change in a  microsecond, where is my love, consideration, support?  Who makes the path smooth for me?  Who has hard conversations with health professionals,family members, your father?  Not  you, you have an expectation that I will make it all ok, and damn those who cross you…….

I cried.  Who knew I was so angry and so sad, so resentful.  How can you love your someone so much and just need them to go away?  Well, every parent in the world has those moments.  I had them with Kati.

In embracing Jeremy I gave away a million  joys and secret hopes, getting our nails done, excessive chocolate consumption in the name of “girl stuff”, cuddling down to watch a movie that made us cry, that one day I would be a mother of the bride, and watch my blonde baby walk down an aisle and say I do to someone who loved her totally, to be the proud and doting grandmother to her children, to receive phone calls where she said “Oh Mum, how did you do it” seeking affirmation and advice.  I am so close to my own mum and never realised that I held dear so many ideas about what I hoped for my relationship with my daughter.   Things I held so dear and hopes I didn’t even know I had.

Mothers love their children unconditionally.  But I have witnessed the special bond between mothers and daughters, especially when those daughters become mothers.  My mother has been such a godsend from the moment that she laid eyes on the tiny wrinkled bundle that we named Luke William.  She kept her distance in many areas but loves her grand-babies and is unstintingly supportive.  I had looked forward to that relationship with my daughter, being the cool grandparent who had a full and exciting life that encompassed a generation of beautiful babies I could love and hand back.  I still will have that in part with Luke but it will be different, his wife will not be my daughter, she will have her own special relationship with her own mother.

So that afternoon, in the stark realisation that I was grieving, I asked Jeremy for tolerance and time.  It was a wake up call for us both.  He saw me as an adult who was lost in a sea of emotions while striving to be supportive and loving, not just “mum” the person who makes all things right.

We have a happy ending from that afternoon, Jeremy is far more tolerant.  He knows that sometimes people will make a mistake, and it will be unintentional and how the relationship is managed from there lies in his hands.  When people make a slip and apologise he smiles and says “don’t stress, I don’t” and put people at ease.  I have made great strides in reconciling my ideas of parenting my youngest that I cherished for fifteen years to the reality that I face now.  The hugs are undiminished in number.

 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Being different isn’t a reason to set Jeremy’s hair on fire

You read right.

Let me start by saying that we are surrounded with a loving group of family and friends who love and accept us.

I had a call just after Jeremy finished school today, he finishes at lunch on Monday.  He said he didn’t want to go home.  This isn’t a completely unusual call, but also not an everyday one.  I said come on into work, I’ll shout you some gelato.

So Jeremy arrived after 3.30 and sat quietly, using his laptop.  Jeremy made himself a cup of tea. Cake was being served for my bosses birthday.  In front of my colleagues he said “So X tried to set my hair on fire”.  I asked why?  was it a joke?  Jeremy responded “No, he’s just a douche, it’s ok, I reported him”.  A bit more of the story came out on the walk to the car, it sounds like the kid may have been on the small side in which case J would outweigh and outreach him.  But still, not cool.

It could have been different, so I am grateful for the smallest blessings.  No harm, no singed hair.  One frightened and angry mum and one child hiding the pain.

Jeremy has always drawn comments, he was a beautiful child, exquisite looks and because he was an early talker he would surprise people with the clarity of his communication.  Now the comments are mixed.  With a shock of bright aqua green hair and lip piercings he certainly stands out in a crowd.  Recently in Mansfield a woman, maybe late 50’s early 60’s, stopped Jeremy in the IGA and said that her cows would  find Jeremy’s hair delicious.  Jeremy shone his million watt smile on the local, we shared the gentle joke.

I would love to say that is our usual experience.  However we have found that wherever we go there is someone who has forgotten their inside voice in a cafe and a rude remark is overheard, or an adult shies away from what they see as a potential hoodlum.

At school Jeremy believes that he is the only openly out gay person, although he is aware of many who identify somewhere on the LGBTI spectrum.  This has led to bullying, and the school can only protect him so much.  There are still narrow minded youth who want to isolate and humiliate those who are different.  I can see his tolerance for this behaviour waning, making it harder and harder to keep him at school.

A couple of months ago Jeremy sent me an e-mail, a cry for help from the heart about school and the difficulties that he was having.  If he came to me as a friend, acquaintance, stranger and said that his occupation made him feel sick every morning, that he had trouble sleeping because of the anxiety that he experienced when he thought about it I would say you need to get out of there, life is too short.  So I have made a promise to Jeremy that we will look for ways for him to finish his education.

I could mount a crusade, start a campaign.  Instead I have made a promise to Jeremy and to myself that every day we will walk in light, greet suspicious looks with smiles and lend our energies to causes that promote tolerance of all kinds.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Was it something I did?

I have had over a day to digest the consultation with the psychiatrist.  One topic stands out for me in that hour – what Jeremy was like as a child.  I know why I was asked that question, gender disphoria is how you feel about your gender and that your biological sex does not mach your gender.  From popular culture (or maybe not so popular!) children with gender diphoria demonstrate this from a very early age, there is intervention to stop adolescence, there is compelling evidence that your child feels that they are a different gender to their biological sex.  I think these are examples at one end of the gender disphoria scale.

So where does Jeremy fit in?

The first comment from my mum was along the lines that Jeremy wasn’t like that.  No he wasn’t.  No he isn’t.  Our home, the behaviours modeled were those of acceptance, that all love was positive, that toys were to be played with, that in addition to what they saw on TV girls could use power tools and make things and get dirty, that boys should give hugs and be gentle.

I was asked did Jeremy chose one type of toy over another. I had to be very honest.  I came to parenting with a belief that my children got to play with toys.  Luke had dolls, baby dolls and a Barbie.  He loved his baby doll, would sing songs to it and tell it stories.  He also had Lego, cars, trucks, a busy box where he could hammer and use a giant screwdriver.  He had a swing set, play doh, paints and crayons.  He loved to cook, and experimented with make up.  He would play dress ups.  His play was free of criticism. As an adult he is caring and shows so many signs of being an amazing teacher.  Sadly he has chosen a different professional path, I can’t help but think that the world is losing a valuable resource for the next generation.  He is also undeniably male.

As I did for my first, so I did for my second.  Jeremy loved getting into the Lego and was never a fan of baby dolls.  He loved his Barbies and his blocks and puzzles.  We had phases where the house was full of glitter and pink and purple, intermixed with long monkey bar sessions and karaoke.  But his greatest love was playing with others.  As I listened to him describe his first solid memories of play they centred around playing with his friend across the street. These two little ones played all the time, outside drawing on the road, riding bikes and scooters and jumping on the trampoline. They dressed up, they loved to cook, and put on shows, they were a delight.  Jeremy was not a loner, he loved company and found Defence life difficult.  He always had a companion in an older brother so alone was not something he ever really experienced.

Naturally as a parent you question if the choices you had control over have a profound influence on the child that becomes an adult. I know that my natural desire was to buy the pink, the frilly, the pretty for this blonde baby.  But I tempered that with instinct, allowing her to have a choice.  I can’t help but think that no harm can come from allowing a child to play with as wide a range of toys, to have a wide range of experiences.

There was never any stigma attached to toddler Luke getting stuck into make up or 8 year old Kati decked out in her brother’s clothes.  Superman capes and dress ups were perfectly acceptable “going to the shops” wear.  Play should be fun and the game doesn’t have to end because Mummy has run out of milk.

I was criticised once, by a health professional, for making the choice to identify as a male  “normal” for Jeremy.  I am still puzzled by this statement.  I can no more influence who Jeremy feels he is than I could his eye colour.  I felt that maybe it was my attitudes that were at fault, maybe I should have been less accepting, more questioning.  Then I keep coming back to the same point in time over and over – Jeremy asked to be allowed to try.

So our journey will be different, individual.  But so is everyone’s, it is the myriad of human experience that creates the panoply of society, something that Jeremy and I both delight in.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
Link

Some straightforward information from WHO

As good a place as any to start reading!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Welcome

Welcome to my first post on a momentous day for my family.  Today Jeremy took the first step to determining who he rightly is.  We met with a psychiatrist from the Royal Children’s Hospital, a beautifully gentle woman who listened to us talk for an hour about our past and where we are now.  I say we because I tried to bow out of the conversation, but she and Jeremy wanted me to stay there and add in where I would – and boy did I add in!!!

As I listened to Jeremy talk I realised that many people in Jeremy’s life, myself included, have moved too fast in our minds onto injections and surgeries.  Jeremy sees himself at the very start of a complex journey.  He knows the journey is complex and impressed me and the psychiatrist with his insight, the amount of research that he has done and the expectations that he has.  Jeremy may never have surgical alteration to his body, nor may he end up having hormone injections.  He may end up having a combination of all or part of the options available to him.  He has asked for time and help to sort out what is right for him.

Yes, my darling child, yes, you can have that in spades.

What was most telling for me was when Jeremy said that when people started using the pronoun “he” he felt comfortable.  I imagined that it may have felt like putting on a favourite pair of shoes that always make you feel like a million bucks.  Or maybe it felt like home.

As a parent my greatest wish is that I have happy and healthy children.  Hearing today that Jeremy is at home being called “he” was all the persuasion that I needed that regardless of where the journey ends, we have made a positive start.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Uncategorized