Tag Archives: transgender

Two years

I love “Call the Midwife”, a beautiful BBC series about midwives in London in the 50’s at the advent of the NHS and in the middle of the baby boom.  Watching a Christmas special these words from an elderly character made me catch my breath as she recalled dark days in the workhouse “She had bones as fragile as a birds. The wardress brought her to me one night on account of the noise, she had chilblains, I wrapped her in my petticoat and held her all night. They took her away in the morning, I never saw her again. I had too many, I knew when they stopped singing”.

Such is a mother’s heart.  How many of us instinctively know when our babies are distressed or hurt.  In my heart I would probably know if the unthinkable happened and I lost J,

I can hear the anxiety in J’s voice on occasion.  A legacy of childhood he can still react from a very primal position when he tries to balance multiple priorities.  It is countered with a “dude, chill” from me when I am around.  Lockie has a similar strategy to manage the anxiety that gets directed at him by J.  Jeremy’s depression however is a distant memory.  For that I am profoundly grateful.  My child two years ago was a bundle of defensive anger and anxiety, careless with possessions, rude and aggressive.  We were at the end of six months of my being at home fully supporting him and his activities. I was wondering why the heck I had bothered as I felt I hadn’t made a difference.  I was stressed and broke and feeling hopeless as a parent and a provider.

Last night J had a number of friends stay over, Lockie and Titan were here too, so I got my fill of puppy cuddles.  I got to put faces to the names that I hear all the time.  J baked up a storm and cooked a fabulous roast dinner.  He and his friends watched movies, ate food and hung out.  We had pancake brunch and the dishwasher has been going all day, but J was so relaxed, happy and every inch the young man.

Next week marks two years since I introduced my son to the world.  It was a low key, tentative step.  I was anxious, confused and angry at God and a world that gave my baby this difficult path.

Our next year will be characterised by physical transformation for J as he commences cross hormone therapy.  I have often spoken about the delay in J being able to access the next stage of treatment as a gift to him so he can take the time to adjust.  So it has been for me as well.  2014 has been in some ways my own annus horrendum in terms of relationships and finances.  I stood at the edge of transformation and stepped off the ledge into the unknown to find that old hurts and pains could be healed.  I am a different person to the momma of a year ago and two years ago.  J has been vocal in his support of my transformation and I treasure his support.  I am looking to 2015 as a year of professional successes and positive action.  Woven into this will be J’s physical changes and Year 12 studies.  It will be challenging however this year of space has helped me so much in terms of getting my head around the next stage of J’s journey.

So I think for J 2015 will be when he finds his voice.  It will be a new voice for my ears but one that I will love as dearly and the beloved voice I know so well.  I am ready for this next step.



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Posted by on December 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


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There are Speed Bumps in Everyone’s Road

I recently read an article about a MtF trans teen starting next semester presenting as her preferred gender.  I was so happy for this young woman, she looked happy and confident in her school uniform in the article in the paper and I was genuinely glad for her.  However given the reality that I have been living for the last 21 months I had a yukky feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It prompted me to post this on Face book:

As I read another article about a transgender teen or child at the start of their transition journey I give a little cheer internally. But, and it’s a big but, there is so much support and acceptance needed by society as a whole after that first step has been taken – that is the story I want to read, the story where a trans teen went to school and wasn’t treated like a freak, subject to uncomfortable stares, awkward conversations or outright abuse.

That was during the long weekend and I was up at the farm with my beloved.  We went for a drive on Sunday through the bush, a beautiful tranquil web of unsealed roads through lovely forest.  My beloved was chatting on about tales of settler families in the district, long lost stories of one naughty brother and one good brother and land, while I sat overwhelmed with quiet grief.  It is one of the things that I love most about my darling is that he will let you cry, provide comfort but no solutions.  He never makes you feel silly for being sad.  It is a rare talent and one that I treasure.

When I started talking some very deep fears came out.  I had listened to years of complaints from Jeremy before his transition about regular school, how he found other students tiresome, how he didn’t have any friends, how teachers found him weird, how he hated the bathrooms, the bus trip.  I listened and openly discussed alternatives.  One particularly bad year I would get text messages during my work day demanding that I have an action plan by the end of the day to have him in another school by the end of the week.  I had listened to numerous plans about leaving school.  I had listened to Jeremy last year about the trials that he faced daily and the decision to move him to distance education was considered and made in consultation with his health team at the RCH.  But six months in and I had so many concerns, Jeremy still didn’t seem happy, socially isolated and not completing all the required work.  We have 18 more months of education, he is only doing two subjects and not giving these his full attention, why are we going down this path where all the other previous complaints have been addressed and still it isn’t enough.  I thought I was asking the right questions and still I was not identifying that work was not completed.  Where had this gone so wrong?  What else can I do? 

I needed to talk to Jeremy.  When I arrived back in Melbourne, over Sunday night roast I told the boys about my drive, how I had a wobbly few moments after reading the article and thinking about Jeremy.  “Oh mum, I am so much happier now I don’t have to go to school anymore”, then a big hug from J.  The situation is a long way from being perfect but there is some reassurance that J is committed to distance ed and he goes not want to go back to school.

Then I read this article:

I had found the story of what happens down the road, that the starting point is the same for parents of transgender offspring regardless of the age they transition and the journey will have twists and turns and surprises and days that are startling in their normality.  We are a special community of parents and our babies are blessed.


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Posted by on June 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


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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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Prince Charming, the troll and social media adventures

Everywhere, if you are tuned into it, there is information about the devastating effects of cyber bullying on GLBTI teens.  Children are at their most vulnerable during the teen years, add into the mix an openly GLBTI person and you have the potential for a devastatingly negative scenario.

The percentage of trans teens who experience mental health issues, homelessness, exclusion is disproportionately high.  Our trans teens are fragile, facing exclusion because they are different, facing discrimination because they are different.  Home and family should be a haven but sadly often it is not.

Recently Jeremy experienced a form of bullying on Facebook.  His cry of pain when he read the words directed at him were purely primal and are etched on my brain and my heart,  I was on the receiving end  too via this blog, and it gave me pause because I read their opinion of me and my writing and I considered it to test if their opinion had validity. It came at a time when I was feeling vulnerable myself.  I have always tried to be fair and even handed even when writing about people who have hurt my child.  I stand by that.

I have little need for external validation but when it comes my way it certainly helps. Jeremy’s medical professionals have given us a big tick, he is depression free, he is well adjusted, he has some decisions to make and they are not urgent.  The harsh words leveled at him recently would have laid him flat a year ago, now his resilience is so much greater he has shrugged the negative opinion off as just that, someone else’s thoughts and not a true reflection of who he is.

Day by day I see my son grow in confidence, in love, basking in the joy that is being Jeremy.

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Posted by on March 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


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And now ladies and gentlemen, a word from Jeremy

Before I start, I just want to let you all know that my heart goes out to those fellow trans* men, women, and people, who have no family to go home to these holidays, due to misunderstandings and unfortunate losses. I know it is difficult to live the life you have wanted to live when the people you thought would love you no matter what have decided that you are no longer deserving of their love for the way you dress and the name you choose. This family, my family, love you no matter who you are, what name, gender or clothes you have. We are here, and we will always welcome those in need. 🙂

I realise that throughout the course of 2013 my mother has been expressing to you all my journey as a young transgender man. I thought that now was a good time to give a little personal update from the trans* man himself! I wanted to thank you all for the online support that has been given to me. For the most part though, I wanted to thank my beloved mother. I know that having a child trying to find themselves in the realms of gender and sexuality would be so very difficult. I have tried my hardest to show my immense appreciation for her strength and continuous love and care for me. There are days that go by that aren’t so great, in which I see her doubt her ability to raise children. When she doubts herself, she doesn’t know how much further away from the truth she could be. This amazing woman has raised two awesome children (especially the youngest). She has taught us amazing life lessons and shown us that humility, modesty, and care for others, are just some of the things that make a great human being. I know that without her, without this amazing, wonderful, and not to mention beautiful mother, I would not be so confident to express myself, not to mention my transition would be hideously delayed.

I don’t think that Mum sees the wonderful lives that she has gifted to my brother and I. Luke and I are seen in our respective communities as mature and thoughtful young adults, with conscientious hearts and a raging loyalty to those who show similar views to our own. All in all, I really just want to show you all how much this woman has done for her family. She has cared for us, given us a roof over our head, food in our stomachs, and clothes on our backs. I love her with all my heart, and with the upcoming year, I wish you, Mum, and everyone reading this, a happy and safe holiday season and new year.

I want you to go out into the world, express yourself, and show everyone who you are. You are a wonderful and beautiful individual, and you only have this life to show the world who you are. We are an ever-expanding community of love and acceptance, so why hide your individuality?

So please, have a happy 2014, this is a whole new year just waiting for you.

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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Jeremy, my rainbow caped hero

We are big on heroes at our house.  One of my favourite memories from when Jeremy was a baby and Luke was six was a handmade birthday card, stick figures of a boy and a little round baby with a word bubble “my brother, my hero”.  “Does she really think I am a hero?” asked Luke.  “Yes honey she loves you totally and looks up to you”.  “She must have worked on this for hours” said a small voice as he looked at his card again and a sibling relationship received some much needed cement as a child who was not coping with having a sibling realised that he was a very important to one small child.  Year later I found that card in his memory box, I took that as a sign that I had a very significant parenting win that day.

Jeremy has had many heroes, rock stars mostly.  I have watched in fascination as he has become politically aware, I think I have a budding protester on my hands – hooray!!!!  He started marching for equal marriage rights in 2010 and was stoked when in 2012 he met Magda Szubanski at a rally.

Today Jeremy became my hero.

Thanks to Jeremy’s pediatrician the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria contacted Jeremy’s high school and set up a meeting.  Jeremy exhibited all his usual signs of anxiety before the meeting.  I am grateful he used some of the nervous energy to do a couple of loads of washing.  He posted on Facebook and I am happy I told him that he didn’t need luck today, he had passion and knowledge,

Jeremy told me about the meeting after I collected him from the train station this afternoon.  He was elated about the outcomes, the representative from SSVC was someone that Jeremy knew.  Then Jeremy started recounting what he had said about his journey through high school.  I lived that journey, but the stark raw summation by Jeremy in the car left me breathless.  There were things that I was aware of, of course, like the evil little shit that tried to set Jeremy’s hair on fire.  What I was not aware of was the daily grind of people, including teachers, who found themselves without the tools to be able to communicate with Jeremy.  Jeremy described it like being treated like he was an object.  He acknowledged that the school had done what it could, what they were all facing was ignorance.  He was aware that teachers struggled with the concept of a transgender student and how to address him.  He still tried to get out the door every morning to face that wall of non-understanding, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

There were positive outcomes from today.  He has been invited to present to the teacher’s next year to help them learn, to demystify transgender students.  The school has signed onto the SSCV.

Jeremy will probably not be at the school next year to see the changes that he has started pending his acceptance to distance education but he is willing to participate in this program to benefit the next transgender child at the school, and the one after them.

He saw the title of this blog and wants to know when he gets his cape.


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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Uncategorized


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A year on

A whole year.

A year since Jeremy reached out and asked to try living as a boy for three years.  A year to get used to the idea of calling my baby Jeremy, buying boys clothes, no more budgeting for eyeliner.  A year since we were given a D Day of 1 January 2013 to launch into this new phase of our lives.

Last week we had consultations with Jeremy’s pediatrician and psychiatrist.  Let’s start with some biology.  I was concerned that there did not seem to be any urgency on the part of the medical professionals to start any treatment.  I talked about watching Riley on Insight and other programs and wondering if I was being supportive enough ().  The pediatrician explained that for male to female transitions there are many biological changes that happen to males between the ages of 16 and 22, where shoulders broaden, Adam’s apples get more apparent, voices get deeper and facial hair gets thicker.  Men who make the decision to transition as adults find that these physical manifestations of adulthood cannot be reversed surgically.  So in Riley’s case, as she is the same age as Jeremy, there is some urgency for treatment to begin so that she can halt this final stage of puberty.

In Jeremy’s case, medically there is no hurry.  He will not get more feminine. To provide us with some reassurance that we are proceeding in the right direction we were told that Jeremy’s pediatrician had attended a seminar  the week before in WA where she presented to the group of professionals about medical issues of transition youth.  Also presenting was Aram Hosie.  Who?  Aram Hosie is the domestic partner of Louise Pratt.  Louise and Aram were in a lesbian relationship for some period of time.  In her mid 20’s Aram determined that she was transgender and started her transition to male.  Jeremy’s pediatrician a) had no idea that Aram had once been female and b) was struck by the contentment that Aram displayed while presenting, his certainty that his decision, made as an adult, was correct for him. Each person’s journey is so different so for me it was reassuring to know that there are people out there who make these decisions later in life and if that is Jeremy’s path then he will be physically a convincing male.

Jeremy’s psychiatrist has also extended some practical support.  She understands Jeremy’s difficulties in going to school and will support Jeremy doing distance education.  We are half way there then in regards to getting J educated in a way that means he can make it to the end of year 12.

Jeremy has new binders and they are fabulous, his pediatrician remarked at how boy like his chest looked.

A whole year.  A happy and healthy well adjusted child.  It’s every parents wish, and my joy.

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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Post “Insight” ponderings

A couple of weeks ago several people contacted me about a show on SBS about transgender kids.  I love my “village” so much, so many people who love and care for us!

We watched this episode of Insight on line the day after it aired, Jeremy and I were on the couch, sick as sick can be.  Jeremy watched, engaged, making thoughtful comments. He was most taken with the parents who were so open and loving.  He was very vocal about the couple who identified as lesbian originally then one partner became a man.  There were heated debates between Jeremy and his friends as to whether the couple should be called heterosexual now or if they were still a lesbian couple, The debates were respectful and challenging.  I forget how passionate being 16 can be!

I took comfort from the young person who talked about trying on labels of sexuality only to identify that he was “none of the above” but was transgender.  His journey so mirrored Jeremy’s.

I came away with this thought – it is worth the time for Jeremy to investigate fully, assess fully.  Stage two hormone treatment is not fully reversible.  Jeremy has time.

There is an option after the age of 18 to bypass the psychoanalysis and go straight to surgeries, hormone treatments, this is known as informed consent.  IF (and it is a big IF) you have other stuff going on in your mental health you may confuse gender dysphoria with any other number of things including mental illness.  These are the 1% of 1% people (pretty sure this is not an actual statistic but you get what I mean).  Following the informed consent model IF something else is going on the actual cause of why you feel the way you do may not be uncovered until you have done something to yourself that may not be reversible.  I am not saying that psychoanalysis provides an ironclad guarantee but I do believe that it will provide a level of assessment that can identify if there is something else going on.  The more checks the better I say, especially if you are undergoing surgery of any type!

So time, a precious gift for anyone, is a gift we have in abundance.  Jeremy is motivated to continue conversations with his psychiatrist.  He has time to get to the end of formal schooling while living as a boy.  He can test out long term if being a boy is what he wants physically.  We can talk to other families and  young people and learn all we can.  

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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Going back to the drawing board, or “Mum, my psychiatrist says you need to talk to someone”

Last week at the end of a day of back to back meetings, after a night of broken sleep because of Jeremy’s coughing, I dashed from Box Hill to the RCH for Jeremy’s second appointment with the psychiatrist.  Due there at 4 I was already half an hour late, brain dead, hungry having missed lunch, and walked zombie like into the hospital.  I grabbed a snack and put my head down on a table, aching for sleep.

Some days are harder than others.

I was about to get into the lift to go to the specialist clinic when Jeremy got out of the lift, 20 minutes before his session was due to end.   He had his usual “I am at war with the world” scowl that I have learned is his defence face.  We sat, talked about his session and Jeremy told me that the next session would be for me with the psychiatrist, apparently I need to talk to someone.  I won’t deny that it is a good idea, but an hour with my child’s mental health professional may not be the best solution to this particular problem.  The message I took away from that is that Jeremy is worried and that I am obviously on edge more than normal.  Message taken on board son.

Jeremy also said that he said to his psychiatrist that if he could he would start his stage two hormone therapy as soon as possible.  I know my reaction was less than positive, my head went straight to the court action that would need to be taken, the latest whinging e-mail from Jeremy’s father which failed to ask a single question about Jeremy’s welfare, and that not so long ago this kid told me that he wanted to wait until after VCE.  Tired momma doesn’t cope with back trackers.  Jeremy just said “Mum, this is IF it was just me to consider, not in the real world”.

I am never sure if my negative reactions are a sign of normal parenting or just that I am not as resilient as I should be.  I want to be open and supportive but I love a stable goal post.  J Dawg just ain’t the stable goal post kind of offspring.  So I worry, was this his way of opening up, now he’ll retreat back into his shell and something that he wants is now unable to be articulated.  I see so many scars from a past that seemed so happy but was full of an adult’s inability to love his child like a parent should.  A parent who saw his child as an extension of himself and delighted in the mirrored traits, unable to cope with the individual as a whole.  A child who yearned for approval from a father who would pop in and out of our lives due to the nature of his work and learned what had to be done to get that approval, be sporty, listen to whatever daddy says, be interested in whatever new interest daddy has.  It was going to end poorly at some stage.  I have an ever awareness that despite my love Jeremy still has these patterns of behavior, not wanting to upset and especially not wanting to upset me because I am his stability.  It is an unenviable position on occasion.

Onto Monday where we went to school for a much delayed appointment with the guidance counsellor.  J and I (still sick) coughed our way through an hour long conversation of options and decisions.  We came away with many ideas for Jeremy for year 11 and 12 and I made the following stand: My preference is for Jeremy to finish year 12 with an ATAR so that he can attend University.

Jeremy does not have to go to Uni but I am not doing the right thing if I don’t make every attempt to get him to a point where he can go if he chooses to.

Jeremy disclosed that he doesn’t want to be a psychologist any more.  He talked about doing hospitality so he could get a job. I keep having the idea floated that he could do a baking apprenticeship. As an adult he has no idea how disparate these ideas are and how he shows no real inclination, no vocation for any of this.  My point remained that as a responsible parent I have to be open to all ideas and options.  If Jeremy spent all his time in the kitchen  experimenting with dishes, showing interest in baking cupcakes or developing curries, I would support his idea of finishing via VCAL. Jeremy can cook resentment into his pasta sauce, this is not his passion or his talent.  We discussed though that it is still open to Jeremy through the VCE program to do a certificate in hospitality if he chooses.  He can be the best qualified dish pig working his way through Uni as he realises that he has the talent to do what ever he damn well chooses.

Having looked at the Victorian College of the Arts and RMIT I think we have consensus that the VCE program at RMIT may be the solution that we are looking for – an older demographic of student in a Uni atmosphere should be the non judgmental environment that will give Jeremy some relief from the “douche” factor he is facing at “normal” school. With school holidays around the corner Jeremy is going to check it out.  I nurse a little sorrow that he will probably not have a formal but hey, he has so many other rights of passage in his own social group that I shouldn’t sweat the lack of renting a tux and a stretch Hummer.  In the long term the real goal is to have all the tools to be able to follow any dream that he chooses, when he is old enough to define his dream.  Because this kid shows all the signs of being able to be at the top of whatever field he does finally settle on – the looks, talent and personality are a winning combination.

The ever shifting sands of Jeremy, maybe he could be a soap opera writer?

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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


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