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Monthly Archives: April 2014

When you look back occasionally, you can see how far you have gone

One year onToday is ANZAC Day, which has always been a special day of reflection in our home.  Jeremy’s father serves in the military, Jeremy’s early childhood was marked by Dawn Services, marches in major cities or country towns depending on our posting.  He attended his first dawn service at two weeks old, in a wee white jump suit and a special bonnet, bootee and cardigan set to keep him warm as we watched the sun come up at the mouth of the entrance into Jervis Bay in NSW.  We have many family members and friends who are either current serving members of the ADF or have served previously.

We have had an interesting couple of weeks in the lead up to today though.  Firstly, Jeremy has turned 17.  We had a party here and it was a fun evening, lots of food, a group of friends and a bunch of guys staying overnight.  It was a far cry from his 16th which seemed overwhelmingly sad as it came at a time when Jeremy felt very isolated.  Coincidentally a close friend of ours passed away on the morning of Jeremy’s birthday.  It added an edge of reflection to our celebrations, but our relationship with our beloved friend was such that I felt that he would have approved of our party, that lives go on.

As a result we spent our Easter on the road, Melbourne to Canberra after work on the Wednesday before Easter, funeral on Thursday in Canberra, Sydney on Friday to take Jeremy’s brother to his flight and then Sydney to the farm on Saturday.  Many many many hours in the car for the three of us.  Jeremy saw many people at the funeral that he hadn’t seen since he starting transition.  Good Lord we are surrounded with so many wonderful amazing people.  Through her tears, our friend who had lost her husband gave J the biggest widest hug welcoming him, other friends were warm and inclusive, and the girlfriends of his brother’s friends took him in under their collective wings at the wake.  At such a time of remembering Jeremy’s presence was welcomed and accepted.  I know that this is how it should happen, but the reality isn’t always that simple.

The friend that we farewelled had served in the Navy in Vietnam.  It was this service that led to his exposure to substances that eventually developed into myleoma.  He battled this cancer for seven years and when his battle ended on Jeremy’s birthday we took the time to have  a talk about his special journey.  Our friend was a kind loving man, generous with his time, experience and personal success.  He was open and honest.  Most of all, he would welcome everyone.  To Jeremy, who knew him from primary school, he was a loving gentle and, as a highlight, taught J to fish.  It was on one weekend away that 11 year old Jeremy caught enough fish for breakfast, a very special memory.

When you live your life openly you are exposed.  J and I experience this a lot, and we accept the negative because it is so overwhelmingly balanced by the positive.  You may never know the influence that you have on others, and I like to think that positive living leads to positive influences on others. Our last two weeks have been a roller coaster of shared joys and tears and celebrations and love.  Our reflection on what one lovely gentle man brought into our lives has given us so much joy, even when we couldn’t see though tear filled eyes that those times had ended.

Jeremy and Titan

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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A Jeremy by any other name

A call today; “Did Jeremy change his surname?”

“No mum, he’s [X]”

Funny question maybe but originally Jeremy, when he changed his name, used my surname – Jeremy Foster had an ace ring to it.  For so many people your name is a gift from your parents, it may change when you get married but fundamentally so many of us start with a first name not long after birth and never change it in any radical way.  Both my children have my surname as one of their first names and have always been told that it is their choice to use it if they want or need to.

But it got me thinking about the process in deciding to change a name when changing gender.  Jeremy made a pretty bold decision and changed totally from his previous name.  I asked him about it, his first name started with “k” and apparently the “k” names that he looked into didn’t fit.  From the middle of grade seven he contemplated “James” then settled on “Jeremy” leading up to telling people that he was transgender.  He says that the “Dean” just seemed to fit.  In choosing his own name he has taken steps in defining who he is the new gender, an empowering step for anyone I suspect.

Jeremy has friends who live gender neutrally and either have gender neutral names like “Ashley” or use initials to identify themselves. Then I thought about that other category of transgender people, those who have a name that they have chosen but for a myriad of reasons they are unable to say that name to their world.

I have had a realisation recently that Jeremy was blessed in one way, he made that bold declaration that came either from great trust or that supreme confidence that teenagers have in parents to make it all better.  Either way he took a leap of faith and the majority of his world followed suit and accepted him.  He has said that using male pronouns and the name Jeremy felt so comfortable and right like coming home.  It saddens me that in 2014 there are people who could not accept when someone close to them trusts them enough to disclose that they feel they are living in the wrong body.  It is a the sad reality that many people may never meet anyone who is transgender and so the announcement that someone close to them believes that they are the wrong gender is confronting and scary.  The reactions from family could be angry, aggressive and hurtful.  Or worse, understanding in private yet requiring the transgender person to live a double life to maintain external “normality”.

When I consider all these aspects I keep coming back to the relief that Jeremy expressed when he was allowed to live as a boy.  That relief on his part was all the convincing that I needed.  But I am a parent, not a partner or child.  I had faith in a family open in love.  I have a community who is open to alternatives.  I am blessed.

I wish I had the means to provide a safe haven for any and all who are struggling with transgender issues.  I want to hug you and tell you that you know who you are and I will help you tell the world.  Because the only thing worse than anger fear and rejection, which belong to others, is not being true to yourself.  I want to help you come home.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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