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Hindsight and 20 20 vision

so cool

There are days and then there are days.

Post Luke’s departure for Germany our lives have settled into a gentle rhythm – well for two weeks anyway, then J and I succumbed to the the dreaded lurgy, a chest rattling bronchitis that coupled itself with a fever and bonesapping lethargy.  During this period Jeremy had his first full testosterone shot.  This was quickly followed by the full effects of bronchitis and frightened me with spiking fever and lack of appetite, certainly not normal side effects of a testosterone shot.  Of we went to the weekend doctor.   Explaining Jeremy’s symptoms I added;

“Jeremy had a full testosterone dose on Friday”

“Why?” asked the doctor

“Because he is transgender, its part of his treatment”

“How long will she need to be on androgen?”

Seriously.  I did respond quite politely that treatment was forever, the doctor did check J’s blood pressure and heart beat and pulse and made sure J was only suffering from a virus and not any additional side effects.  Such is the casual ignorance that we face daily.

On the weekend, after a week of trying to get back to normal, J and I went out for lunch to a new little local place.  The weather was mild, one of those days when the air feels like milk on your skin and the sun finally made an appearance, a whisper of spring was in the air.  Over lunch J started talking about school, how he felt negative about not staying in a normal school, that he felt he could have tried harder. Had he done that he would be finishing school in three weeks time, instead his studies will be completed next year,  I must admit my response was pretty poor at the time, I think I was taken aback more than anything else.

Then yesterday I received an email from Ginger Gorman, a wonderful journalist who interviewed us a couple of months ago.  She had included some of J’s story into a wider article How do we stop transgender children being bullied at school? As I read it, the realisation hit me like a brick.  We are in the distance ed system because school was torturous, the every day rub of ignorance magnified because those that J relied on to teach him could not deal with him, added to the general ignorance of teenagers made a hostile environment.  His mental health was precarious, he was depressed, anxious.  His psychiatrist and I could see the toll it was taking.  The decision to move him away from that environment achieved one key goal.

Jeremy was mentally healthy enough to deal with the two and a half year wait for treatment,

I don’t know what the outcome would have been otherwise.  I can only say that with the benefit of hindsight, the decision that we made back then was the best one that we could.  Nothing in J’s life has been straightforward, it stands to reason that his senior studies will follow a slightly more circuitous route.

Point is he will achieve what he wants to achieve.  No one can ask for more, especially not me.

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Let the sunshine in

Four months today!

It’s no secret that the southern winters leave me feeling depleted.  We have been south since late 2002 so this is my 12th winter away from my beloved Queensland and it’s mild days.

For Jeremy it has been a turbulent time.  His body seems out of control, sprouting hair and acne, his voice is getting deeper and cracks on occasion.  He is restless, and yet lethargic.  He describes his hunger as constant and insatiable.  There are visible bristles on his chin, blonde and spiky and he is looking more and more like his father every day.  To be honest he has always unknowingly mimicked his father’s mannerisms, nowadays they are coming out of a face that increasingly looks like his dad and with a voice that will be deeper than his father’s.  It is a fascinating process to watch.

People had always said that Jeremy looked like me.  I’m not sad that this has changed, our faces change regardless throughout our lives and there are days when I look in the mirror and see my mum looking back when once people would remark how much I looked like my father (sans white beard).

The external manifestation of who we are is just that, external.  If the most beautiful face in the world comes with a hard heart, is that person truly beautiful?

There is always the comment that someone is a beautiful soul as if somehow that is a different and inferior type of beauty.  I would love to see a world where being kind to each other had a greater value placed on it than a thigh gap.  That kindness should colour our everyday interactions, from smiling at a stranger to the opportunity that I had today to put money into the dryers of a young family who were scratching around for change.  It wasn’t that I thought they couldn’t pay for their drying, it was that they had to make a further trip with a young child and that small act would cut down the time they had to spend doing a mundane chore.  Maybe it is the legacy of years of scouting where, as a matter of course, you did a good turn every day.  It was a practice that made you think externally, where the only reward you expected was that you had kept the promise that you made when you became a Scout (or Guide).

As Jeremy struggles with the internal turmoil that testosterone is causing I can hear him escalating in his discussions with other people. It feels to me, on occasion, that as he has struggled he has developed an almost adversarial communication style when in fact he is so unsure of everything that adversarial is the last thing he wants to be.   Last night it was a call to Lockie to let him know that pizza arrived, he was upset because Lockie was upset when he called.  I broke it down – Jeremy has been really upset with Lockie in the past when a time frame, real or perceived, has passed.  It’s a very old habit of J’s, predates his relationship with Lockie and has drilled me into being an exceptional communicator with my youngest child about any plan.  Lockie’s reaction last night was in response to Jeremy’s previous behaviour.  If Jeremy wants to change Lockie’s reaction, then he has to change his behaviour.  Like an Pantene commercial it won’t happen overnight, but they will get this aspect of their communication on track for being positive and both will feel more confident in discussing things with each other.  They are such a tight pair but I can see where their respective anxieties blocks a positive flow of communication.

I had to be confident in even starting that conversation with J last night, and I did so because right now he is transforming and has a unique opportunity to start new and positive habits.  It can happen in any kind of relationship, familiarity can lead to casual attitudes and curt communication.  But the upshot can sometimes be that people felt taken for granted, or not valued and from there something positive in your life can spiral down to negative.  If you broach where you can see this happening with people they can see your suggestion as criticism, and ain’t no one likes the criticism.  So you need to be prepared for those hurt feelings and be ready to explain where your comment came from and make sure that you are always talking from a position of love.  Sometimes it will be good and sometimes it will be really really bad.  Sorry, even when you talk from a position of love on occasion the person you are talking to can’t hear what you are saying.

So in the depths of a cold and miserable Melbourne winter, in the absence of the sun lifting my spirits, I am relying on an almost lifelong practice of helping others to bring some sunshine and beauty into my life.  Now to make sure that exercise gets back in there too!

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Crowdfunding update

Hi all!!

I initially promised a sneak peek at the book so have selected one of my favourite parts from chapter three, where Jeremy starts telling people about his journey.

Check out the site for my extract from the book and what you will get in return for supporting us. The smallest amount will help us get on our way towards being able to keep a roof over our heads while I power through getting this story out in the public domain.

“Parenting Jeremy” go fund me

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

A book in the works – some words from Jeremy

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It may be evident to people that mum has not been working lately.  She has been looking for work but at the same time she has been spending time supporting me in my studies and with my medical appointments now that I have started my testosterone shots.

She’s also been writing my story as book.  But we could use a little help to get the word out.

Finishing Parenting Jeremy

Mum has set up a Go Fund Me – and I would like to ask:

  • If you can, donate
  • If you can’t please share

A small hand will mean the ability to make this book about me a reality.

In the next couple of days watch out for the list of thank you gifts for our supporters and extracts from the book so far.

Hugs

Jeremy

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Jeremy asks that we shut up and listen

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Another week, another step in our journey, Jeremy’s third testosterone shot is today, and we may even have it all down to a fine art of pre-lodging a prescription to cut down on hospital visits.

The physical changes are small but still noticeable, his voice is starting to change, there are a small yet definite number of real facial hairs on his chin, he’s even closed that weeny gap in height between himself and his brother.

In the middle of doing school work and paid work and socialising J had an upset moment.

When he was very little his small chubby hands would grab my face and say to me “Mummy listen to me”.  This bright spark bubbled on and on and on and on singing songs and telling stories that as a busy mum sometimes the important stuff got missed.  Often the “Mummy listen to me moments” were tales of woe, easily addressed with a hug and agreement that Minka the cat was a bugger, or that it wasn’t fair that Lukey didn’t want to share the PlayStation all the time then a discussion about other people needing space or the cat not being the kind of cat who wanted to be dressed up.

Now as an adult the day is filled with snippets of information, the flow is still constant and he gets frustrated.  Sometimes, just sometimes, he needs full attention.  This very social creature has greater expectations of the people around him, he does not have the every day exchange of conversation that his nature needs that people who are employed or at school have.  He fills his day with the everyday chit chat and the important stuff that needs full attention sometimes gets lost in the babble.

Last week he did the adult equivalent of “Mummy listen to me” face grab.  He told me that when he talks to people he gets ignored and that he is puzzled and hurt, do people not like him?.  I’m unsure how people ignore him, and then I get it.  In a world where we reduce messages to 140 characters, blog posts, texts, people keep conversation to a minimum here is Jeremy who craves a more fulsome interaction.  His nature needs  long in depth conversations about cabbages and kings, politics, snake handling or whatever topic is occupying his mind.  He needs a friend or two who will join in the conversation.  Salem is a good companion but her cat conversations are limited.  J is lucky that he has in his circle an amazing young woman who has been a friend since they were six years old. She listens and laughs and contributes, her own journey has been fraught and she shares her experiences openly and with trust and love.  Sadly she lives in Canberra so face to face conversations are limited.  But that is a vital connection for J and he knows that friendship can be that complete and rewarding.

Perhaps the solution for J is to find a happy middle ground.  We can’t all of us be all things to all people at all times.  He admits that acknowledging that something has nothing to do with him is hard, and he is working on it.  Maybe he needs to realise that often people are not ignoring him but that they are involved with their own lives and problems, that to get the kind of conversation that he craves he needs to be clear with the people that he talks to and to be selective about his audience, to acknowledge that not everyone can articulate their thoughts and feelings with the skill that he can and often people are uncomfortable with such self examination to be able to respond fully.  By directing his communication he will get a better response, be more fulfilled, be a better friend and in turn receive better friendship and, like those awesome Galileo thermometers, people in his life will find their levels.

I worked hard in my professional life to be able to listen and problem solve for others, to seek solutions.  To be able to use that skill again for Jeremy is a delight.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

So where does God fit in all this?

Jeremy a few weeks ago

My miracle

Recently I have responded to numerous posts from parents asking “How do I respond to my conservative / Christian family about my transgender child?”

To me Jeremy has always been a child who walks in the light of God, a miraculous being with the blended gifts of intelligence, practicality, empathy and tremendous good looks.  Nothing could be a greater testament to the existence of an intelligent and loving God than my precious baby.  I have always known it instinctively so when asked the question I knew that I would have to go looking, confident of a good outcome.  The New Testament is so full of love and joy I was sure I would find inspirational words.  Instead I found these words contained in Psalm 139:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

So commonly I heard that families say, in arguing that a child is transgender, “God doesn’t make mistakes”.  Psalm 139 says that God knows, even before we are born, what our lives will look like. The path of a transgender child, and adult, is different, but certainly is not a mistake in any sense of the word.   I love the thought that, even before you are born, your path is there.  There is free will, of course, we are not automatons or dolls in a cosmic dollhouse.  But knowing that despite the challenges that come with being transgender, or the parent of a transgender child, God knows that you have the strength to walk this different path is tremendously comforting for me.

I’ve been pretty angry with God these last few years, and lately his whole divine plan for me seems more like a cosmic joke.  I also know that eventually the meaning of this part of my life journey will become clear and I hope I will carry away the lessons of patience and strength that I have had to learn.  Maybe I will even learn that I am ok just as I am, and then the just as I am will be ok too.

Not everyone believes in a higher power, I respect their beliefs.  I would ask that others respect mine.

When I last wrote I thought I was writing from a place of positivism because I had woken up that morning.  It was pretty evident to those who know me that I was far from well and their contact helped me see that and I sought help. I have now woken up another 12 mornings, surrounded by the same love that has been there all the time, just able to see it more. So thank you.  Jeremy thanks you too.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Jeremy’s mum and the very bad week

It now kind of ok to  talk about this.

I have written recently about my struggles.  I sat last night with a plan.  I knew how I could end my life quickly and with minimum mess.  I reached out to a couple of people but was too ashamed to tell those who I knew would drop everything and come and help because it was Saturday night and I knew they had plans and time to spend with family and loved ones while I sat alone.

Dramatic huh.  Didn’t feel dramatic at the time.  Intellectually I knew I wasn’t suicidal because I had done a check on myself that I have done countless of times with others:

  • Do I have a plan? yes
  • Do I want to end everything or just make the pain stop – the pain of being a failure is overwhelming and I can’t keep hurting the boys.

Such is the liar that is depression. It has told me that I am unlovabe, ugly, useless, it whispers to me that the boys would be better with their respective fathers with their stable relationships and double incomes. It guides my hands to track pants and baggy tops, it glues my head to the pillow, it hides my tooth brush and my hair brush.  Simple jobs need extensive mental planning and far more energy than I have.  It hit home the reassurance that I gave to Jeremy so many times that the price to pay for living with joy and exuberance is sometimes a general blue feeling, on occasion it is a slide into depression.  I know this about myself.

Intrinsically I know I am no more a failure to my sons that I am poor at what I do in my profession.  I am awesome at what I do professionally and will be back working soon, would probably be back working now if I could shake this liar out of my head.  I am a good mother, my boys have all that they need materially and emotionally and frankly nearly everything they could want as well.

Without making excuses I have to acknowledge that the many multiple factors that have led me to this current period of depression are just that – multiple.  There is no one single event that has triggered this. Moving, redundancy, my eldest son’s depression, Jeremy’s depression, Jeremy’s transition, the end of my marriage, the end of my last long term relationship and the loss of a dream attached to that and the residual effect of confronting a dark chapter in my childhood have not been fully acknowledged and should be.  In coping with these factors I have not fully finalised how I feel about any of them and I have the tools to do so.

Time heals, I know that.  Time will hep me, I know that too.  Last night and during the last week I have had so many signals that to move past this current depressive episode I should confront those things that I have identified and look into the dark recesses of my mind and make sure that there is nothing lurking in the background.  It will be exhausting and confronting but from past experience will help lay the negative emotions to rest, and hopefully help bring the sunshine back into my mind.  It is a trusted method that I have used before and it works, but the cloud in my mind has hidden the solution for a while.

Depression is not being sad.  I am lucky that I have a group of women around me who know this and can see through the lie that I put to the outside world every day.  I am not ok.  I will be.  That is the key, I know that I will see the sun come up tomorrow.

NOTE: my method for dealing with depression is one suggested to me by my psychologist.  I know that there are many who benefit from antidepressants and I would always recommend seeing a mental health professional.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The fall and fall of the Duggars

Jeremy used to love the Duggar family.  He would watch episodes of “16 and Counting” and beg me to get the ingredients for “tater tot casserole”.  He was fascinated by their family life, their love of music, their chores, their devotion to God.  He watched them pack the converted campervan to go on holiday, he was fascinated by the volume of pickles, washing, musical instruments the family needed to get by.  He was a fan.

Sadly, the Duggar family were never a fan of Jeremy’s.  Last year Michelle Duggar spoke out against anti LGBTIQ ordinance in nearby Fayetteville. She said that the ordinance “would allow men – yes, I said men – to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only” and stated, “Males with past child predator convictions [could] claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls. I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space.” 

May those words haunt her, as at the time she was fully aware that her own son has traumatised a number of girls.  Her view has seen a crumbling media profile implode as parents of transgender children, the wider LGBTIQ community and frankly most sane people felt uncomfortable with the family’s extreme right wing views.

In 2002, when he was in his early teens, Michelle’s eldest son Josh sexually assaulted a number of younger females.  That it has taken 13 years for the news to be made public exposes shocking layers upon layers of lies, ineffective action and cover up by the Duggar family and those connected to them.  There has been no mention of what support was provided to his small victims.  The public comments from his supporters are vile in their ignorance of both the law and God’s love.

The Duggar family are fundamentalist Christians, adherents to the Quiverfull movement.  Quiverfull members see procreation and children as a blessing from God, eschewing all forms of birth control including natural family planning and sterilization.  Women are seen as subservient to their husbands, their positions are home makers, educators and bearers of children.

Is this why the Duggar family are so complacent in hiding and excusing the hideous behaviour of their eldest child because he is male?  Do they believe that somehow he has a right to take what he wants from females?

I am heartsick for the precious wee girl children he touched inappropriately.  They are victims in this scenario and are hidden from view.

May their faces be shining in the sun now that their story is being told.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Testosterone and other drugs

I had a certain arrogance after J’s first testosterone shot.  He coped so well, the side effects were minimal.  He jetted off to the Gold Coast for FurDu, working and partying for four days at this convention.  It was his first trip of this type, no safety net of relatives, or Lockie and I was anxious!  But he was fine, had a blast, made new friends and promoted the business for which he is a partner in training.  School is now sorted, not the way that I would like it to progress but he will finish Year 12.  Things seemed to be going swimmingly.

Can I just add that my boys made Mother’s Day very special.  I spent all day having cups of tea made for me and I watched weepy movies and they took me out for dinner.  All in all it was a pretty perfect day.

Then last Thursday was the second T shot.  I was kind of anxious because I wasn’t going to be at the hospital this time.  I went early and got the prescription filled and to make sure that it would be ready for his appointment.  J had a seminar that day and was going to be traveling to the hospital from Distance Ed.  Despite a phone with no battery power and therefore a sketchy memory of what trams and buses he needed to take he got to the hospital, collected his testosterone and got to the correct clinic desk about five minutes after he was due.  Post shot he met up with his brother and they came home together, ravenous and ready for roast chicken.

J learned from this experience that he can speak up, the second shot went in on the same side as his first and that has led to some increased pain in the leg on that side.  He has also had nausea disrupted digestion for the first few days afterwards – alternating between very hungry, not knowing what to eat and not wanting to eat at all.   He has been restless and then lethargic and achey.  We are at day four post shot and those side effects have settled down thank goodness, poor boy has been feeling miserable.

We are fully armed with all the information that we need to identify if the reactions are extreme, and at this stage they are all well documented side effects.  Small comfort to him though.

When I was giving him a cuddle the other day he got me to feel his “stubble”.  Even though he knows that facial hair will not come in for him until he has been on T for about six months, he is longing for this external manifestation of maleness. It will be here all too soon.

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Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Who cares for the carer…. then along came Zeke

Zeke

I am really feeling sorry for myself at the moment – not positive for anyone but pulling out of this chasm is proving frightfully difficult.  Jeremy is struggling with school and needs a momma who can act and be positive, not continually bury her head in the sand.

I am lucky because about a year ago I started seeing a psychologist when the tricky balance between my work and home life was overwhelming me.  This gentle woman has helped me balance what is happening in my life and to see past the immediate problems and to move past the behaviors of those around me.

In my last session she asked me who I spoke to.  It may seem an odd question to many but I have not lived with a partner since I left Jeremy’s father over five years ago.  I am ok with that.  But there are times when, as one of my friends put it, a conversation with someone late at night as heads lie on pillows can be just as therapeutic as a session with my psych.  She’s right too, the thing that I miss about being married is that adult to adult conversation, productive or not.  It was like being part of a team where troubles could be halved and triumphs doubled. In theory anyway.

So her question got me to thinking, who do I talk to.  Here is where I realised that I have gathered around me a group of extraordinary people, some I have never met face to face, who offer the gift of their time or experience or even a hug. I have friends who will just sit with me when I need to, or let me cry, who are generous in their affirmations about how they see me.  They are all amazingly beautiful in their own ways and my life is all the richer for having their contact.  In the last 48 hours the collective lifeline has helped me turn a corner too.  For that I thank you.

In March, on impulse, I looked at the Lost Dogs Home website and saw Zeke.  This wee man reminded be of my beloved Ron dog with brown eyebrows and floppy ears.  He was smaller than my Ron dog too and at 8 years old I wondered if he would be adopted.  So I put in the call and the universe decided that Zeke, due to go to another home, would be my dog.  When I went to meet him he sat on his bed, just looking so lost, while all the other small dogs came bounding up to the front of their enclosures.  He was unsettled and anxious and the handler at the the Lost Dogs Home told me that he lost his kennel mate since his arrival and just wanted to be loved.  As we left the Lost Dogs Home he would only settle if cuddled, and in the car he sat next to me with his wee face on my arm.  The boys tell me that when I leave the house he sits next to the door and cries a little and is perfectly behaved but is happier when I am home.

Zeke isn’t a replacement for a partner, but I relish the warmth of a little body curled up next to me on the couch, I revel in the delight of his little face in the morning when I wake up and I have discovered again that the love of a dog is a precious thing.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Uncategorized