Jeremy Dean is now eighteen

So the big day has come and gone three weeks ago and we started our new journey down the path of cross hormone treatment two and a half weeks ago and I have not had the strength to talk about it at all.

Because for me, I have had a daily battle with anxiety and depression since I was made redundant eight weeks ago.  This has meant that any energy has been focused on the J man and his journey.  I feel spent and the struggle to move forward has at times seemed impossible.  I have placed an enormous amount of trust in the hands of the universe that this has happened for a reason that will seem clear and positive; however there are days when I just can’t see the bigger picture.  My psychologist asked me why I get out of bed in the morning and the simple reason is that I can’t fail J and his brother.  They need me to get back on the horse and be their rock and provider, and as they have done in so many ways since their respective births I can see a light and I have a thread of courage and I will be OK.

Let’s talk medical stuff – we have had a fertility consultation and a final consult prior to J receiving his first dose of testosterone.  Big sigh of relief that J has years to make up his mind about babies.  He and I are pretty confident that the chance that he will change his mind is zero, but the knowledge that he does not need to really make a decision for years is reassuring.

Our final consult just prior to J receiving his testosterone confirmed for me yet again that the universe knew what it was doing when it led us to Melbourne in 2009.  The staff at the RCH are amazing and Dr Telfer has given J world class care.  She had an anxious momma and son in her office and she was just so supportive and wonderful I got sad all over again that we will have to move on from the RCH at the end of the year.  The actual injection was a non event apart from J’s mini panic attack just before the needle hit his butt.  The hunger that overwhelmed him afterwards however was very real and we had plenty of good food on hand to help him manage that side effect.  Apart from the attack of the om nom noms, his first injection has left him side effect free.  This is so good and a good sign for him and his studies.

His birthday was a series of fun events, such a contrast to the sad and lonely sixteenth birthday that he had.  Our family event was a lunch at the Princess Palace with close friends and the sleepovers from his eighteenth dinner event the night before.  I cooked enough food for about forty people so we feasted on leftovers for days afterwards – yay!!!!  The house was a vision of polka dot mayhem and the polka dot cake that looked like a present was quite a technical challenge for momma and son.

There were days in the last two years that I doubted that I could manage to get this precious bundle to his 18th birthday.  There were days when it all seemed too much for him and I feared that like so many transgender teens he would slip into depression or worse.  His strength and patience are a true lesson for many; for a child who is ruled by passion and impulse I am sure that the wait has been interminable.  But we got there kitten, and your momma bear couldn’t be prouder.

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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


Let me be clear

A few weeks ago I wrote about grief.

I think I failed to articulate that positive parenting is a journey of mixed joys and sorrows.  These sorrows are not always disappointments. Some parents mourn the end of each stage of development, they mourn the passing of toddler mispronunciations, they cry at the child’s first day of school, last day of school, the list goes on and on.  Parenting is a continuing journey of change and development.  The baby that you gave birth to develops into a child and then an adult.

I have also written about the parents of Riley Mostel, who refused to use their child’s preferred pronouns, acknowledge his gender and were a significant contributor to the disturbed mental state that led Riley to suicide.  I am vocal in my condemnation of any parent who is less than 100% supportive of their child.  Personally I cannot comprehend a situation where a parent would reject a child on any ground, be it social standing, religion, shame.  That position is due totally to the parenting that I received from my amazing mum and dad and the freedom that I had to choose how I wanted to interact with the rest of the world.  In that I am truly blessed.

You know what else?  Parenting is hard, it requires effort, it requires sacrifice, it requires consistency, patience and endless love.  But the reciprocal rewards far outweigh the effort.  The primal love and energy which is instinctive and helps to get through those first vulnerable years where the majority of growth and development occurs in your child lessens as your child becomes more independent.  Parents come out of the “baby coma” and find that they can go out without having a small person following them to the loo, they can eat a meal at a time after the sun goes down off nice plates.  They start to think about their lives “pre baby”.  For first time parents there is even a misconception that some day this journey will end.  I remember thinking that I would have the goal post of 40 and my baby would be 18 and my job would be over.  That goal post moved to 46 when J came along.  Here I am, four weeks off J’s 18th birthday and my journey as a mum is far from being over for both my boys.  My eldest son, who I nearly lost at 16, can hover at the edge of depression that when he slides in, it can be very difficult to reach him to help him get help.  I lost my job two weeks ago, my Mum has been a constant voice of positive love and light at the end of the phone.  The nature of the tasks change but the role of “parent” remains one for life.

In my post about I wrote “The child you gave birth to is a miracle. The person they have become is a miracle. Acknowledge the loss of one but embrace the joy of the other.”  I have seen this interpreted as that somehow I now believe that I have not given birth to my child.  This shows such a lack of insight into the complexity of the parent – child relationship.  A baby becomes a child who becomes an adult.  The adult is not the baby that you gave birth to, when they were born they were a jumble of limited experience gained through (hopefully) 40 weeks in utero and the miracle of a tangle of inherited characteristics from the DNA of parents.  The adult reflects the wealth of experiences that time has given to them – every sight, sound, touch, taste, smell is absorbed and reflected back utilising the free will of that person to chose how they wish to appear to the world.  Parents have the privilege of guiding another human being through this maze of experience.  But we also have the responsibility of letting go, allowing free choice, trusting that the basic lessons that we taught are true enough and strong enough to be a foundation for positive choices.  Parents also require the wisdom to allow children to explore concepts and experiences outside those of their experience.

For the parent of a transgender child, a child who comes out as transgender places, initially, the greatest trust that a child can place in a parent.  It is one of the few experiences that parents can find themselves feeling overwhelmingly alone.  How that parent reacts probably reflects how they have parented to date.  I have used this blog to explore my feelings about Jeremy’s transition and I have been open with the negative as well as the positive.  In doing so I have hoped to reach those who really need to hear my words, those parents who feel overwhelmed with the transformation of their child from one gender to another, those whose experience with transition and options are limited and probably negative.  I have tried to strive for a point of positive and simple information giving to help parents feel less alone.

As for Jeremy, like any proud momma I measure the successes that are important to me.  I have a child who can maintain successful interpersonal relationships, who is academically successful, who is depression free, who is anticipating the next step in his transition. He is, and always will be, a child of my heart.

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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Uncategorized


What makes a man

I started this post a couple of weeks ago, I don’t often have difficulty writing but this topic has required some pondering and much discussion.

A couple of weeks ago I had a moment of dread, that cold grip in your tummy as the thought popped into my head “what if Jeremy isn’t man enough”.  I said something to my bestie who said “What does that even mean!!!” and she was right, what does that thought even mean.  What are my concerns really and are they genuine?

Firstly, I have a concern that my child will not look like their chosen gender when they transition.  I am concerned that if they don’t they will have a greater chance of being assaulted or harassed. I read so often about assaults on transgender young people that it creates a fear in me that isn’t really reasonable.  Jeremy doesn’t even think this makes sense, because in his mind if he presents as Jeremy then the world will conform and accept him as Jeremy.  I hope that his experiences meet his expectations and nothing negative happens.   When Jeremy starts to use testosterone he will look more and more masculine, which is the purpose of using testosterone. He is already wearing masculine clothes and has an amazing blue mohawk.  There is so much more though to being masculine and where will Jeremy learn these things?  Or is there, I don’t know?  I am feeling particularly ill equipped on this topic.

I have always said that my sons are an interesting study in nature v nurture.  Our parents are our first examples of being grown up and the parent of our gender is watched closely for clues to unlock the mysteries of how to navigate through the world.  My eldest has no memory of living with his biological father and lived with his step father for almost fifteen years.  Jeremy was twelve when his father and I separated.  They have gone through the selection process of what they like about the behaviours of their respective fathers and what they are less in love with.  I’m not saying that the parent of your gender is your only influence, that negates the efforts of single sex couples raising children, or indeed single parents who have little or no buy in from the other parent in regards to child rearing.  Even the absence of a parent can be an influence in the decision making process that we go through about our behaviours.  Each person is shaped by their experiences, which are unique.

The teen years are especially crucial in the decision making process about how to be, and as Jeremy is about to go through puberty again I suppose it’s like he has another chance to look at who he is and who he wants to be.  Because I am eternally meddling, I am taking the opportunity now to say to Jeremy “son, consider this”;

  • Take a look at my bestie’s husband, a man who thinks about the comfort of others, who is generous and warm and loving and lets the world know it through his actions.  A man who sat with me and cried with me at 3 am when my world was falling apart and said that I was strong and brave and that I could manage my way through what was happening.  A man who is a leader.  A man who has genuine friendships and is interested and engaged in other people’s ups and downs.  A man who has an unshakable love for his wife and child despite the challenges thrown at him by his work which means he has not lived in the same town as them for most of his marriage or he is away for extended periods of time.
  • Take a look at my friend. A man who I have watched as he cares for his child, giving up material success to support his child with never failing patience through a difficult journey of mental illness.  A man who is gentle and caring and has a wicked sense of humour.  A man who wouldn’t stop the car to get a coffee for himself, but if I want a coffee……….
  • Take a look at my dad, whose genius for loving made his daughters feel like princesses.  A man who took care of his family, working three jobs but still finding time to read his kids stories.  A man who always saw his role as washing up because he couldn’t cook and that was fair.  A man who delighted in the talents of his wife and recognised that she needed more in her life than the challenges of raising three children close in age and encouraged and supported her to have outside interests.  A man whose voice fills with joy when he answers the phone and one of his children is on the other end of the line.

I can teach Jeremy how to do stuff, like change a tyre, repair things, use tools, mow the lawns.  Jeremy will also find his own role models.  Today however, I want to gift to Jeremy the opportunity to look anew at the extraordinary talents of maleness that these men possess.

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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


Saying goodbye 

I came to a turning point about 12 months ago when I read an article by Mary Jacklyn Moss. In the article she talks about when her child transitioned and had she lost her child the sympathy would have been different.

I get it.

I delight every day in the happy healthy academically successful son who bounced into my life two years ago. He is a delight and I love him, I fight for him, I nurture him. I would not change him.

But two years on and I carry a huge secret. I still cry for Kate. Not every day. It’s no longer overwhelming. But I mourn my baby girl. It would be unnatural if I didn’t. Kate was a part of my life for nearly sixteen years. I would mourn the loss of anything that has been in my life for that long, of course I miss my daughter. Some of that grief is now stronger that we are so close to the start of hormone treatment. I need to be aware of that too.

Grief is a process and one that should be honoured. It is the acknowledgement that something precious has passed and the loss is felt and there is a memory to be treasured.  It cannot be rushed, it is a place of healing and knowing and no words can erase the effect.  By being open and honest with your feelings you can also heal and move forward.

So often I see posts from mums who are on board with transition but dads who aren’t, or vice versa, or parents who are trying but struggling. To you all I say “It’s ok. Cry, yell at God, pray, remember. Just don’t be overwhelmed. The child you gave birth to is a miracle. The person they have become is a miracle. Acknowledge the loss of one but embrace the joy of the other. When you think that you can’t go on, remind yourself that your success rate as a parent is pretty awesome and you can do this too.”

My daughter will always have a special place in my heart. Jeremy has a special place in my heart. They are equally precious. And as time goes on, and Jeremy becomes a more familiar entity I hope he always understands that every now and again I will need to look deep into his eyes to lose myself in the memory of my daughter.

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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Babies and blood tests

An appointment at the RCH today was kind of like a goalpost – is this the day that we will use to mark pre and post?  Is this the day that we will look back on as the day of change?

We have been waiting and waiting for today’s appointment with J’s pediatrician to get blood tests and to discuss some options.

I learned that Jeremy may be able to have a baby.  It’s not likely, but biologically he could still carry a child.  The testosterone will stop his menstrual cycle and make lots of other biological changes.  Some of those changes may reverse if he decides to stop testosterone.  Some changes will not be reversible.  Testosterone does not mean that J will have to have his ovaries and uterus removed although there are recommendation about time-frames when that can happen and what J should do if he doesn’t have surgery.

I kind of get disgruntled when I think about those who transition from male to female.  In regards to considering fertility they have an option to freeze semen and that technology is well tested and collecting semen is not an invasive process.  For those who transition from female to male it is a different prospect.  The technology to freeze eggs is not as reliable and the process to harvest eggs is the same as for someone undergoing IVF – hormones to stimulate egg production then harvesting which is a medical procedure.  So knowing that, why would you take that step?

How do you ask a 17 year old to make a decision about parenthood?  This kid struggles to get dirty laundry into the machine, can he really know that he does not want to be a parent?  Yet this, like so many other aspects of Jeremy’s journey,is placed into the hands of the universe.

We have nine weeks until J’s 18th birthday. It’s time to take some steps – Friday we change Jeremy’s name and gender marker on the medicare card.  Then we should get his name legally changed so that his 18+ card has the right name and gender.

Jeremy’s 18th birthday is a Saturday this year.  The following Tuesday he will have his first dose of testosterone.  I think both days will ones to raise a glass of beautiful bubbles to toast milestones.


Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


Things getting real

2015 has been a goalpost in my mind for a long time.  I have had two years to come come to grips that this is the year that Jeremy starts his physical transition.

My own physicality was something that I put at the back of my mind.  In 2008 I started a long journey to gain strength and health through exercise and diet and by 2011 I felt amazing.  In 2012 however, a combination of factors combined to start me on a self indulgent slide back to my heaviest.  I spent last year addressing my mental health so was primed to start addressing how I look.

At Christmas I made a promise to my sister that I would exercise with her via a shared app.  Much as we would love to exercise together the Melbourne – Chicago commute is time and cost prohibitive.  So we check in with each other after we work out and this simple mechanism is enough to get me out of bed and turning on coach Justin for thirty minutes of exercise.  That plus a free food tracker has helped me to monitor what I take in.  Three weeks in and I realise the biggest difference is I now really want to change.  My muscles ache, some mornings I am really tired but I value myself enough to give myself a half hour three times a week.The changes have been small but they are there!!!!

Jeremy is not feeling great about himself so we have discussed what he can do.  I know first hand that depression sabotages your best efforts, poor self esteem can lead you back to the biscuit barrel far more than it does to the fruit bowl.  For a committed chocoholic like Jeremy the lure of the sweet is overwhelming as well.

So the plan is to help J start moving and eat better.  I’ve had to stay “no” to certain things, J has decided to make some changes and he will get support from me to help him stick to the changes that he wants to make.

Next week J has his blood tests, one step closer to starting cross hormone treatment.  These hormones will change his body, my wish is that J wants to makes changes so he can look in the mirror and see the handsome young man that I see.

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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Love won’t always keep us together

I got to the end of everything this week.

Jeremy and his brother have had to pick up the pieces again.

I read an article recently about the seven worst things you can do as a parent.  I am happy to say that of all the mistakes I do make I didn’t make any contained in this article.  One that stood out to me was “be a friend to your kids”.  My boys are not my peers, I am the parent and while I believe in equality and fairness I also believe that these two offspring have a relationship to me that is very different to the relationship that I have with my friends.  I am not an automaton, much as the boys would like a momma robot who earns all the money, does all the housework and cooking and generally makes their lives easy and sweet.  They are dragged kicking and protesting out of bedrooms and into communal living areas where they are asked to talk about their days, do some tasks for the benefit of the family and basically take some steps into the land of “everybody else”.  I also believe that to be a good parent you need to show your vulnerability.  So I make no apologies for my breakdown this week.

In October my beloved and I went our separate ways.  It was my decision, one that was very difficult and reached after much reflection and broke both my heart and his.  We have had a few months of limited contact.  On Thursday he dropped off at work some bits and pieces that I had said previously he was welcome to keep.  Like the respectful and kind man he is he didn’t want to disturb me during my work day.  I have had the feeling this week that I should check in on him so the arrival of my possessions prompted a text and we arranged to meet after work before he headed back to the farm.  The boys joined us about an hour or so later for dinner and it was like the whole world was right and bright and happy.

and my heart broke all over again overwhelming me with pain and sorrow

But the reasons that I had for ending our relationship are still there.  They have little to do with with this lovely man, he did nothing wrong, was not careless, or hurtful or cruel.  It makes the decision indecipherable to him.

To live with honesty and truth takes strength.  To stay in a relationship where you can see that each person has their own goals and conversation leads down the same differing paths over and over again lacks honesty and it is better for each party to be on their own than continue barreling towards a point of hate and anger.  When you are not motivated by anger or hate you need strength to stay true to yourself.   The strength that I find so easily for my baby often eludes me when it comes to myself.

It was said to me once that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference.  I have used that sentence as a barometer to test how I feel about past relationships and whether I have truly healed or if I am nurturing some negativity that it is better to deal with.  I believe that if that sentence has a grain of truth to it then I have to acknowledge that by ending this relationship in the way that I did I have kept a positive link to a very joyful part of my life.  I am proud of that.

I did not have the strength or courage to end my marriage when I first felt I should.  I subjected myself and Jeremy’s father to a further 10 years limping along a path we convinced ourselves was right because we had a piece of paper.  I try to live without regret and I acknowledge that those ten years led us on an exciting journey and I have many wonderful friends from that time that enrich my life.  That does not take away that the damage to the four people of our family is still evident.  If I have learned any lesson I have learned that being brave and being alone are not the worst things in the world.

My wish for J is to always walk through life with strength and so I hope my example will guide him there.  In the meantime I treasure his cuddles and cups of tea offered as gifts to ease my tears.

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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Haters gonna hate

Two sad events yesterday.

First, I received a bile filled text from someone, calculated to cut to the heart of my insecurities about myself.  Intellectually I realised that the sender of this message was more exposing their inability to manage their life, insecurities and depression but my initial reaction was breathtakingly negative.  Then I recovered my composure, went out and had coffee with one friend, a glass of wine with another friend, sent some love out into the universe in the form of an inspirational quote and cooked delicious dinner for one of my beloved closest confidants and her little family.  I pushed through a core workout this morning before brunch with another friend – damn I am so lucky!!!  I live in a beautiful city, in a lovely home with my babies, have an active social life and a job that pays more that just meeting the bills.

Later on in the day yesterday the 300 metre roll of GladWrap I bought when Costco opened in 2009 finally ran out.  I sent a text to Jeremy about both the text and the GladWrap, he is currently at Confurgence (google it, its an amazing convention) and due back on Monday. In our text exchange it was evident that I was a bit sadder about the GladWrap than I was about the text.  That roll of GladWrap moved into the Princess Palace with us, it had wrapped up countless muffins, portions of meat, leftover fritata, fondant icing and so many other culinary delights.  The new roll (which has been patiently waiting in the cupboard for six months) looks a little bright and brash but no doubt will serve us well for the next five or so years.

When you are the parent of a transgender child you do cop a lot of negativity.  People are uncomfortable about your child and what they represent.  The norms that you apply to yourself and your childhood suddenly don’t apply to a transgender child.  The milestones of childhood and adolescence are different in some ways but reassuringly similar in others.  I have worked hard in the last twelve months to develop the resilience that I will need this year to support the next stage of Jeremy’s journey.  I give no one permission to take that resilience away from me, nor permission to dim the joy that I experience in life, or to foist a poor value system on me that is contrary to my beliefs.

Jeremy deserves nothing but the best, to be surrounded by loving friends, family and cohort of peers.  The haters can hate but our love is like a shield of steel.

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Posted by on January 11, 2015 in Uncategorized


And so this is Christmas

We are on holidays, in the loving embrace of my family. I am treading water emotionally as I had anxiety about how I would manage face to face interactions given my journey this year and being separated from my network of support has made me uncomfortable. But so far, so good.
Our journey to Queensland was joyful, lots of love and support for my blue haired baby and wonderfully restorative for me, the opportunity to be face to face with valued friends and talk about next year made me realise that near or far my safety net is strong.
Jeremy has been strengthened by so many positive interactions with family and friends including a second dinner with his dad. Each time that happens it gives him more reason to stay positive, to reject the voice in his head that whispers bad things to him. It is more reason to get up each morning.
Merry Christmas – may your gifts be ones of love and demonstrate the value that the giver places on your relationship. Jeremy and I will have you in our prayers.

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Posted by on December 23, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Christmas 2014 – a word from Jeremy

Another year has passed. Myself and my family have grown, and we have learned many new lessons.

This year is my last year before I medically transition, five more months until I’m 18! It’s going to be tough, I think, adjusting to the hormones, but this is just another stretch in my long journey. I know that whatever happens with me, my mum will always be there to support me and love me. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person more lucky than me to have a humyn like her in their lives.

December is a time for family. Even as I type, mum, Luke, and I are heading towards Canberra on our three day trip to Brisbane to see aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to celebrate our love for one another. I am lucky to have a family that has loved me through my journey, and I will always say to those who feel as if they have no family this year, you will always have me.

I would also like to thank everyone that stays with this blog and has read along with our journey. I have always seen how cathartic writing for this blog has been for mum, and it has allowed us to discuss and learn from each other through a time where communication is integral. Your viewership and the help it has brought to her and our readers is what keeps us going through everything. So thank you. You all hold a special place in my heart.

Please everyone stay safe, have a wonderful holiday season.



Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Uncategorized