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Monthly Archives: September 2015

When the momma bears get angry

Holding hands

For me this picture symbolises the instant connection that J had with a young trans guy recently.  Who knew that such a short time later I have watched in horror as this young one and his mother, like so many other loving mothers, have become the target for anti transgender ignorance.

A while ago I saw a post from a fellow momma, her precious child O was struggling and she was looking for a solution.  Unlike Jeremy, O was not yet into puberty.  He was worried that people would notice that unlike other boys, people would notice that he was missing a bulge “down there”.  Let me draw a parallel – if as a parent you have a) searched the shops looking for Elsa knickers or a purple sparkly top b) that toy that everyone else is getting for Christmas c) spent hours online looking for the perfect absolutely whatever it is your child has expressed a desire for; you will understand that on occasion your child says something that strikes a chord with you and you will go to the ends of the earth to help satisfy that wish.

So when this fellow momma reached out about O’s desire many other mommas sprung into action.  One momma has sent a few prototypes for trial. Jeremy and Lockie put their creative brains together and developed a quick yet simple and washable solution to the lack of penis bulge that even the momma involved said she could put together and the momma reached out to Den and TranzWear in the US who said he would try and help.

A story was then publicised about this issue with the help of Ginger Gorman, a journalist who is working hard to raise awareness of the issues of transgender youth in Australia.

Now, in the last 24 hours this little transphobic piece popped up (San Francisco company selling “packers” for trans boys, ages 4 and up) which has resulted in hate mail and a death threat to Den and some abuse heaped on Ginger basically for promoting pedophilia.  So the angry momma bear has awoken.

I had the privilege of meeting a terrific young trans guy of a similar age and his mum last week, two beautiful people, a little one who confided in J that he was worried that people will not like him in high school, a momma who is walking in my shoes.  Two hours flew as we talked about so many things and I felt that I had met a long lost friend.  So today when I saw the snide implications that her actions, like so many other mothers, in procuring a packer and stand to pee device for her child was somehow (with murky implications) linked to pedophilia I saw red.

Den’s website TranzWear has an 18+ warning on the front page.  When I first visited the Peecock products page I had a reaction, I saw lots of phallus shaped objects in various colours, in a quantity that I had only encountered in certain shops in Fyshwick in the ACT.  Did that stop me looking as I helped my then 16 year old son to chose a stand to pee device?  No, because I knew what I was looking at.  I was also a grown up who knew that the device was to be used for my son to pee, and wise enough in the ways of the world to know that an STP is a pretty useless device for sexual gratification.  Because that that is the dangerous parallel that is being drawn at 4thWaveNow – that STPs and packers are being given to children so that adults can get sexual gratification.  Let’s name it people, and not hide behind euphemisms.

Here is my truth.  Transgender boys want to look like their peers. They are acutely aware that they lack a little bulge in their pants.  Caring and supportive parents will recognise that and do what they can, from crocheted bird seed filled cylinders to more sophisticated inventions that stay put, can be worn while swimming, can be popped in a washing machine, these are testament to the love that parents have for their child.  Post puberty there are a range of devices that enable trans guys to stand at a urinal to pee, like every other guy.  It helps these boys get through the day feeling a little safer, a little closer to how they see themselves.  It does not solve the deep down desire for a penis that can only be achieved by surgery, and not always successful surgery at that.

What Den at TranzWear did was try and help a momma.  That’s it. He is one of a few suppliers that a parent could turn to and receive support.  A death threat was unwarranted.  He has done nothing wrong.

So may I ask a favour?  Please spread the word.  Spread the word about Den and TranzWear.  You may help a young person take a step towards being comfortable with themselves.  Spread the word that STPs are cool when you want to pee and you don’t have a penis.  Please send anyone who mistakes an STP for a sex toy to me, by the time I have explained the difference they won’t make that mistake again.

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Posted by on September 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Joy spreaders and truth tellers

How to have a lovely day

A blob of concentrated sunshine and joy in a glass – when I look at the marmalade that I made a couple of months ago I marvel at the intense orange, how it glows.  When it sits at the bottom of a G&T my favourite drink is enriched with the rich citrusy sweetness that is verging onto the point of caramel, melding perfectly with the sharpness of tonic water, the herbal hit of the gin.  But mostly I am amazed that my first attempt at jam making resulted in this culinary miracle.

I made marmalade after a weekend away to Rutherglen.  Staying with friends in Wahgunyah, nursing both a hideous cold and bruised and battered psyche I spent a lot of time in the backyard, standing at the fire, talking.  The owner of the house was a returned serviceman, a veteran of the Vietnam war.  I always feel comfortable talking to war veterans, no idea why, I just always have.  For me it was cathartic to talk about life, the history of the house, the street, the gnarled roots that he had fashioned into a functional table, anything to distract me from the maelstrom of black so slowly lifting from my mind.  His gift to me as I left was a massive bag of oranges off the tree in the front yard.  So the great marmalade adventure began.

The marmalade found many homes, just as the boys and I couldn’t eat kilos of fresh oranges, we couldn’t eat our way through kilos of jam either.  Jars went to my best friend and her mum and brother who both happened to be visiting Melbourne.  A big jar went to the friends who took me to Wahgunyah.  Jars big and small went to many houses.  I would occasionally get a random text message from someone who had just opened a jar to to tell me that the marmalade was yum.  That feedback was as rewarding as the creating of jam to start with.

Last night, talking this over with a friend, he said to me “You spread joy JoJo”.  I’ve never really thought about it. Now that I have, I love the concept.   I also love the picture that I put at the top of this post, and I apologise for it being pretty girly, but that’s me in a nutshell, I’m all about the pretty girl stuff.  I also believe that if you have a lovely day, then those around you will have one too, They don’t have to wear makeup and perfume, but I hope that when I follow the rules above, the people around me smile, they feel valued because someone has listened to them, they start to have  a lovely day because someone wished them a lovely day.

But life can’t be all perfume and jars of jam.  In the last week or so Jeremy and I have spent a lot of time talking about relationships and love.  We talked about holding on and letting go.  We talked about not holding on to something that causes us pain.  Some of the conversations that he and I have had together and with others this week have been hard.  They have been open and honest ones but fearful because we said things that the other people may not have been ready to hear.  Those conversations are risky too, but we both believe that to be authentic we need to be honest.

In one beautiful conversation Jeremy opened up and shared his thoughts on love.  He said that he believed that true love does not mean that you mirror each other, but that you understand each others differences and still want to hang out and talk to each other about your experiences.  It echoed some advice my dad gave me once, quoting from Khalil Gibran

“But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls”

I also thought “wow!!  You are going to have a phenomenal adulthood if you have this together at 18.”  So I think that J has hit this particular nail on the head.  He already understands that to be successful in a relationship he needs time to pursue his own interests, to be a good partner he has to achieve some self definition, some internal peace.  You cannot share yourself if you don’t understand yourself.

I also suspect, that someday this kid will rule the world in his own way.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in parenting, transgender

 

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Can my arms reach all the way to you?

Brothers

One of the gifts that parents give you that you can’t give back are your siblings.  I am the eldest, with a brother and sister, mum was busy making three babies in four years.

Jeremy has an older brother, five and a half years older to be exact.  Today is his 24th birthday and he is on the other side of the world, waking up in to a late summer Berlin morning, with what may be a bit of a hangover as he has confessed that he went out last night with new friends.  It sounds like he has settled into his overseas adventure quite nicely.

I often see posts from other parents asking how siblings were told that a brother or sister is transgender. I kind of skip over those questions, because i have nothing to share.  Luke was told the same way I was told, via a message.  He reacted the same way he does to so many things, he changed his reality to suit the new truth.  He has never faltered with pronouns, never misnamed his brother, has always behaved with love and respect.  There was no angst, no anger, no attention seeking behaviour.  So I can’t help others by sharing a story that is so perfect in its unexceptional normalness.

Jeremy and Luke would have a very different relationship if my eldest child had been different.  Somehow I raised a very special young man, reserved, strong enough to show when he is vulnerable, practical, a voice of calm and reason in a maelstrom of emotion and exhaustion and exuberance that Jeremy and I create just by being together.

It wasn’t always so. When J was little he felt that everything in the house was his.  His brother’s room was fair game, he’d get in there during school hours and help himself.  Teaching him boundaries was a constant ongoing lesson.  There would be advantages though to not making a huge fuss when you are a big brother with a younger sibling who has restless fingers and a busy brain.  They were usually treats in being allowed to stay up late, which my night owl loved. As they got older they would spend time together, sometimes because they had to as we posted from location to location and sometimes because they just wanted to.

Jeremy’s transition came at a dark time for his brother.  I had declared that Luke had to leave Canberra, he was struggling with multiple issues, study, money, depression, spending time with him around his 21st I was concerned about his mental health. So J made his announcement as I was insisting that Luke make applications to universities in Melbourne and Brisbane.  We journeyed together then as J settled into his transition.  For the last eighteen months, as Jeremy has been doing distance education, Luke’s degree has been mostly late night lectures, leaving his days free and at home.  At some point during that time, my boys became close friends.

Listening to each talk about the other is a delight.  Luke has said  to me that J gets everything that he wants. J says that Luke doesn’t have to do anything around the house……… but apart from that the respect and love they have for each other is beautiful to witness. When Luke first left I asked him how he was,he said simply that he missed Jeremy.

So on this special day, when we would normally be together and having a bottle of wine and yummy meal, one part of our circle and so a part of our hearts is on the other side of the world being grown up and having adventures.  Happy Birthday Luke.  Your have shown your brother such an amazing example of how to be a man.  It may not be his version but the fabulous things about examples is that you can take the good stuff that appeals to you away.  Momma loves you.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2015 in Uncategorized