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Tag Archives: love

Why T is not the answer

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I’ll level with you, I have started this blog post about a hundred times.  My feelings about  Jeremy are so mixed each time I try and write it I get confused and my attempts to rationalise and unpick it gets sidetracked.

But here it is.  Testosterone was not the answer.  It has been a significant part of the answer but it has not been the solution in totality.

Since November Jeremy has been finished with school work.  In the last week he finally got to Centrelink to  register for Youth Allowance.  In between he has floundered in a sea of anxiety, lack of direction and dysphoria.  I’ve done my best to provide love and support but my patience and my bank balance are wearing thin.

For nearly three years we held onto a D date of Jeremy’s 18th birthday and his first injection of T.  On reflection I had no idea what I expected from this injection.

He is becoming more masculine day by day and that is fricking awesome.  His sideburns are epic and his goatee and sideburns are starting to meet on the sides of his face.  His voice is deeper and there are even times when he is comfortable without wearing his binder.

But those mental health issues that sent us to a psychologist pre-transition are still there.  They are exacerbated when he meets people in the general public that, despite beard and deep voice, somehow still misgender him.  Dealing with Government organisations has a special challenge, and I am pleased that the Federal government employees in Newport Victoria are much more aware of gender diversity than their counterparts in Werribee.

So mothers and fathers – I thought the step of starting T would be a bigger solution than it was.  It was a significant step but if I have learned anything from the last six months it’s that Jeremy has hopes and dreams about his physicality.  There are dreams that I have offered to make a reality but he is still considering the implications for himself.  He understands that he is in a position of privilege.  It doesn’t alleviate the underlying feeling that he has that his journey is just starting.  It doesn’t help when he feels that taking the first step isn’t accepted or understood.

It’s so unfair.  I see his peers at Uni, getting part time jobs.  He is so bright and engaging and that bundle of contrary actions that has bewitched me for nineteen years.  His legacy was supposed to be bright and successful.  The poor kid can’t even prove his identity because the forms are overwhelming and the questions daunting despite my support, love and credit card.

Time to put on my big girl panties and keep fighting the good fight.  Because if the world won’t voluntarily step toward J, I will damn well make sure it does under duress.

 

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#translivesmatter

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It’s been a tough 24 hours.

Yesterday I saw a heartbreaking post from a mother in the US.  She shared simply and starkly that her daughter had taken her life.

It is my worst nightmare, summed up in thirteen words from a woman I have never met.  Her pain came through the screen of my phone.

Jeremy is finding that, despite thirteen months of testosterone treatment, he is still misgendered.  He is struggling with multiple issues.  I worry that the internal struggle is being heightened by the constant barrage of public opinion, face to face and in the media, that he feels like he is a square peg in a world of round holes.  I worry that despite my best efforts, I am “just mum” and my love and support will not be enough to keep him here.  In the last 24 hours it has been brought home that I am not alone in this fear.

I find myself angry at those who should be leading the way to acceptance.  In the US recently there has been a number of bills passed in various states restricting the rights of transgender people.  Most notable has been the Bill passed in North Carolina which made it illegal for a person to use a public bathroom unless it is the bathroom that “matches” the gender on their birth certificate.

Let that sink in.

The government is saying that if you are a transgender person, they know better than you which bathroom you can use, plus now they can have you charged for not using the bathroom they say you should use.  Since the passing of this bill, I have heard various reasons for this restriction.  None of the reasons are based in fact but are being chanted ad nauseam by the wider public.

It is discrimination of the worst, lowest, most narrow minded kind.  It plays on the fear of the unknown that I wrote about previously, it encourages the hatred and aggression that is already evident in society about transgender people.  But to my mind, most importantly, it invalidates the lives of transgender people.  It says to transgender people, regardless of who you are, we know better and you are wrong to think the way that you do.

Here in Australia the conversation is less focused on transgender people and more aimed at the entire LGBTIQ community.  We have the extreme conservative right wing politicians getting air time to slander a program designed to educate and familarise young people about LGBTIQ issues.  They would prefer the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent on the chaplaincy program to remain unscrutinised while focusing on the content on this program and citing this as the justification for their vile hatred.  Underpinning this is their biased fear that Australia will vote in marriage equality and somehow this will end society as we know it.  I hope it does, because our society is a cold place for my child right now.

As parents we seek to shield our children.  We sail into battles against bullies and teachers and other parents.  We ban sugar and limit tech time and set rules for grandparents.We work hard and set good examples and make meals that contain kale.  We trust that when we send our children out into the wider world, and our children follow the rules, dress nicely, speak politely that they will be met with the same respect.  But when governments publicly incite hatred by the passing of discriminatory bills or give air space to religious conservatives, the general public follow suit. Not just follow suit but go to extreme measures.  The number of posts I have seen, written by people who say “I’ll shoot a transgender if I find them in a bathroom with my daughter”, “I’d bash a transgendered person if I saw them in a public restroom”  takes my breath away with the violence and hatred expressed. It is everywhere, it is scary and it’s tolerated and it’s held up as a model of not allowing society to degenerate, of the pushback against acceptance that “needs to happen”.

I’ve said before that I think that these attitudes proliferate because being transgender is so far removed from “ordinary” life that it is easier to hate the different.  It is a story repeated over and over again in history and I could be talking about people of colour in the 1950’s or homosexuals in the 1960’s or the hatred aimed at people of the Muslim faith today.  So many people have not met a transgender person and so their attitude comes from a faceless fear.  That lack of familiarity that leads into hatred and that puts lives at risk and continues to be validated by governments.

Yesterday a mother lost her child.  It may not have been preventable.  But in my heart I believe that if the public conversation about transgender people was more positive, understanding, one pressure from a young life would have been removed. She would have been confident that society would accept her and that may have changed her mind.

I am angry and I am scared.  Transgender youth are the bravest people I know.  It kills me how we as a society fail them by not making the world safe for them.

 
 

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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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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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