Making Memories

Father-Daughter-Bench_DP_680x392

So…first let me say the picture above is just a stock photo…this is not Fab and myself.

However, I can say that Fab and I love…no I mean we REALLY LOVE the outdoors.  She is my mini-me in this regard.  There is something about being out in nature that seems to relax and calm our minds.  It is out in the middle of nowhere that we seem to be the most at peace.  It is in nature that Fab and I make memories we will remember for the rest of our lives, and I would not trade it for the world.

I have not been writing much the past couple of months mostly because of how busy I have been with my job.  I could still find time to write, but that would also mean I would be taking time away from spending it with my family.  In the current national climate it is an easy thing to be swept up in the fervor and anger over the current state of affairs.  It becomes all the more easier considering my child, and those issues that should be of the utmost concern appear to be at risk, and yet I find myself turning away from the fervor and anger for something different.

Let me be clear, I don’t think most Americans are that bright, and I do think they are easily swayed without truly exploring issues that are in front of them.  It is easy to get riled up over this, and I have many friends who can’t seem to escape the funnel of the tornado that currently has them spinning.  I was in jeopardy of this, but thankfully managed to step back and get out of it.  This, in part, is why I have not been writing as much.  I needed to recenter myself, and lately I find myself much happier than I was before, even with the shitstorm that is the Trump presidency.

How, you might ask?  First, because I am mostly a Buddhist in my mindset, and so I choose to focus on the present.  My kids are still young, and when it comes to Fab she couldn’t care less about what is going on in politics.  She knows she is transgender, but that isn’t how she would describe herself, and except for this blog or when educating others, I simply refer to her as my daughter.  She is stealth most days, and people have no idea.  She is happy most days, and I would have it no other way.

Watching politics, talking politics, living politics can permeate a household, and before long where there was no fear, now a healthy dose of it can come to infect all inhabitants within.  The anger and fear will not necessarily change anything outside of the household, but it will definitely lower the spirits of all within.  I have the power to influence the mindset and outlook of my children, and I choose to have it be happy and positive, over angry and afraid.  I have the benefit of time, as my kids are still young, and I choose to use it.

Outside of work, I have been coaching Fab and her brother in soccer, we spend quite a bit of time doing nature walks, playing board games at home, watching movies, etc.  In short, we spend our free time bonding.  Fab has no interest in being an advocate, and her mother and I see no reason to be one simply because she was born with the wrong genitalia.  If in the future she chooses otherwise then I will support her, but for now she just wants to be a little girl who plays with her brother, goes swimming in the summer, and who gets to spend time outdoors with her dad.

Fab has settled into who she is as a girl.  She is finally comfortable in her skin, and she has found her own style and personality as a female.  She is more confident than ever before.  She doesn’t need to wear a dress everyday, because as she puts it,”Dresses are for fancy things.”  She likes her toes painted, but thinks getting her fingernails done “is a waste of time because they just get chipped when you play really hard.”  Her hair is finally long enough that she isn’t seeing the little boy anymore.

Why would I add fear into the mix by talking about Trump, executive orders, and all the other nonsense out there?  I’m the adult, and so I pay attention, but she should get her childhood.  My childhood was pretty carefree, and I feel I owe her a carefree one as much as possible.

Soon enough, there will be doctor appointments, hormone blockers, hormones, and a myriad of other things her pubescent self will have to worry about.  For now, she deserves to just be a kid, whose worries are little different from the other kids around her.

School ends next week, and most of the summer she will spend at the pool.  She finally got a two-piece skirted bathing suit in bright pink, and she adores it.  When not at the pool she will bounce on her trampoline, and play with her brother.  There will be visits to family, and she will be adored by grandparents as all grandchildren should be.

Before that, though, she and I will take a trip together alone.  It will be our special time, doing our special thing, and she will have all of my attention.  It will be our own adventure, just a dad and his daughter, and together we will make memories that hopefully neither of us will ever forget.

It isn’t hard to get where we are at, you just have to be willing to take a step back, and ask yourself if what you are doing that keeps you away from your kids, is what they will remember or is it what you want them to remember?  For me, the wake up was my daughter getting excited because “daddy is actually going to go with us.  He never does that!”  The excitement spoke volumes, and the power I had to bring it about immediately told me I’d be better off making memories with my kids.  At this point in our lives, it is the memory-making that brings us happiness, and for now we will continue to dwell in that place.  For now, and for the sake of my kids it is the most important thing I could be doing.

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What’s Up?…Open Your World

Keep-Calm-And-Whats-UpSoooo….over a month with zero posts…what’s up with that?  Well I always said I did this for me, and I’ve been so friggin’ busy with work, where I also do a lot of writing, so I’ve kind of just let life marinate for the past six weeks.  I decided to finally write again, because I’d like to keep this going, and because I was waiting to see if Fab could get out of her funk.

I’m happy to say that she did.  She and I share an outdoor hobby where she is completely stealth within the community.  At the beginning of April we went out in nature for a long weekend, and it seemed to make her dysphoria go away.  She simply lights up in nature and it was just what she needed.  She came back from that weekend a different kid.  She’s becoming more comfortable in her skin as she figures out who she is.  She doesn’t need to wear dresses every day, and she has shown herself to be a fierce competitor in soccer where even with her petite frame she refuses to back down to anyone.

Her fierceness, most days, reflects how she tackles life.  She and I will take an outdoorsy trip as soon as school lets out for the summer, and I’m looking forward to spending that time with her.  For those who really know her to think of her as anything but a girl now seems completely foreign.  Even looking at old pictures I find it hard to recognize that kid.  Being trans is just one facet of many that makes up who she is, and this is often where people make mistakes when measuring or judging a trans-person.

I say the above because I want to share the following video, which is actually a Heineken commercial that has a trans-woman in it.  The point is, when we open ourselves up to the world, and actually take the time to talk then pre-judgements can be changed or reversed.  Judge a person for who they are, not what they are.  Enjoy!

 

Protecting Hearts and Minds

safe-schoolsIt seems more and more I am simply writing about life as of late, and it may be that I can thank President Trump for that.  His election has emboldened ignorant people to discuss things with their kids that once would have been taboo or off-limits.  In addition, and although we do not talk politics with the kids, Fab has already come to despise and fear the Trump administration.  She has picked up that they do not like who she is, and in her eyes that makes them bad people.  Her level of anxiety is only heightened when she has to deal with constant comments from boys she passes in the hallways of her school.

The kids have gotten clever, and are careful in what they say, but typically it runs along the lines of “You’re a boy” or “You’re supposed to be  a boy”.  She always responds with, “No, I’m a girl”, but her internal rage builds with each time she has to defend her existence to another child.  She finally lost control of her temper on Friday, and exploded on her friends over something stupid, telling them, “If I were president, I would kill you all” (A bully used to talk about what he’d do to her if he was president).  Her teacher called Mom to tell her what had happened, and initial anger from the both of us gave way to the desire to understand what had happened to cause my child who is usually the perfect student to show her ass at school.

Fab has always internalized her anger and fear, and in this instance she had been listening to older boys make comments when she was in the hallway.  See, she has to walk down to the clinic to use the bathroom.  If she was allowed to use the girls’ room then she wouldn’t encounter 3rd-5th grade boys on a daily basis, but such is the life of an open trans-kid in a public school.  For several weeks she has been listening to these kids and defending herself, and by Friday it had simply gotten to be too much, and like many of us, she lashed out at those closest to her.

Don’t get me wrong, she is so much more confident and happy since her transition, but we also see a growing anxiety in her at the same time.  She is always aware of her differences with the other girls, and it doesn’t help that there are little things about the school that also serve to remind her of this.  We had been content to let her use the clinic bathroom knowing that Gavin Grimm’s case was going to go before the Supreme Court, and so it was a bitter blow to see SCOTUS kick it back down to the lower court.  This decision has also convinced me that the school district where we live would not be changing its policy anytime soon, and this would not be a good thing for Fab’s mental health.

After some serious conversation over the past few days, I went ahead and applied for Fab and her brother to be enrolled in a nearby school next year.  While she will not be happy to find out she has to wear a uniform or that she will leave her friends behind (who never invite her over for playdates), we have decided that for her overall mental health the new school was a much better choice for her than her current school.  The administration and her teacher have been awesome at her school, but we also know regardless of how demanding we are of the administration and even with their willingness to work with us, as long as kids know Fab started school as a boy, the comments will never completely stop.

The new school has listened to all of our concerns, and agreed to all of our requests.  They will be affirming, and when Fab enters the school come next school year, nobody will know she used to live as a boy except for upper administration.  She will be able to start fresh, without any stigma.  Beginning next year, thanks to the current climate in America, Fab will be going stealth.

The following comes almost directly from my communication with the new school that I had back in November when we first explored a transfer.  I’ve added updates in italics:

  1. She is keeping the name “Fab” but changing her middle name…this takes four weeks to get the official name change recognized.  In the application I put her new, chosen middle name.  Will this be an issue?  I am more than happy to provide paperwork once I receive the new documents.  Since November, Fab’s official name change has gone through, so this would not be an issue anyways, but the school administration agreed to use the name we had requested.
  2. Transcripts coming from Woodstock Elementary will list Fab as male, regardless of what the transcripts say, can the school give her a gender marker of female on its paperwork and class rosters?  I do know that FERPA supports that her records should match her gender identity, and amended where necessary.  Agreed to by the school.  We’ll see if it actually happens, but I can say that the school application does not include any gender-markers.
  3. It is important to her not to be mis-gendered, and to be called by female pronouns.  In my mind the fewer people who know her “status” the better.  Can we limit this to administration?  I know you have excellent teachers, but I have also lived in (State) long enough that religion can sometimes get in the way, and I would hate for that to happen.  She’s a little kid and wouldn’t understand, other than to feel hurt.  I also know that the more people who know allows for a greater chance that someone will slip up or make a mistake that might out her, which is what I want to avoid at all costs.   Finally, I know that Title IX guidance rules state that only people who have a “legitimate educational interest in the information” should be made aware of her “status”.  I can agree that yourself, the principal, and assistant principal may need to know, but don’t see where there is a legitimate need for even a teacher to know because gender doesn’t affect educational interest in the classroom…if in the event of medical emergency the principal or assistant principal would be able to divulge that information to a medical professional, but otherwise there shouldn’t be a need for it.  One of the biggest deals, and thankfully agreed to.  Nobody should be able to out my child except for herself.
  4. The last issue, I will ask about, because I have to.  What is the school’s position on bathroom usage?  I know this has been a sticky issue in the media, and I know she would prefer to use the girl’s restroom, especially as the last place she was bullied (both physically and verbally) was after being cornered in the boy’s rest room at her old school back in September by three older boys (She is extremely small, 7 years old and 6 year old clothing is loose on her).  We’ve just found out this week how bad it has affected her to the point that we will be getting her a therapist to deal with it all.  None of this is your problem, except to say that we just want to make sure she feels safe.  From what I have heard from friends, the principal has a zero tolerance on bullying, so I’m sure safety is important to him.  I just want to know going in, so that I can have those conversations with Fab before she starts school with you.  This was a our swing for the fences moment, and the school agreed to it.  We couldn’t be happier that in all ways she will be seen as she sees herself while going to school next year.  We believe, although she has been resistant to switching schools that such affirmation will do her far more good than wearing what she wants to wear each day to school…besides she can always change everyday when she comes home.

The easiest thing an adult can do for trans-kids is to see them for how they see themselves.  That is all any of them want.  It isn’t about the bathroom, or pushing an agenda on others, it is about living life the same way other children their own age do.  This is the hardest thing for the other side to seem to get.  My kid is seven…sexuality is a long way off.  She doesn’t even think about, but she does know and is aware that she isn’t allowed to use the girl’s room at school.  She uses it everywhere else, and nobody blinks an eye.  It takes a certain level off stress off of Mom’s and my shoulders to know that come next year she will be stealth, and free from the constant comments that have follower her for much of the current school year.

Some may see going stealth as an easy way out, but my daughter is seven years old.  She is not capable of, nor should she have to make a decision yet about living her life out in the open for people to ridicule and challenge her.  This will be a choice that I am sure she will one day make, but it will be “her” choice to make when she is capable of looking at all the different angles, which a seven year old is not capable of, no matter what another might say.

I can say, I have struggled not to come out swinging as an open advocate, so has Mom, which as shy as my wife is, should tell you all you need to know about how angry she is.  Everyday I think about putting a real face to this blog, getting involved more, and putting myself into the more active movement.  However, such actions would out Fab, and might also put my job in jeopardy.  The job risk bothers me less than outing my child, and so I grit my teeth and remain anonymously yours.

Earlier this week, some anti-trans folk found my blog, thinking it was another parent’s at first, and I read some of their comments on a Reddit page.  These folks suggest we brainwash our children, or that as a father I’m spineless and a wimp.  These are similar to things I’ve read and seen in the past, and obviously they know nothing about me, because they would be hard pressed to say such things to my face and come out unscathed, but that’s the nature of internet bitches, isn’t it?  They hide behind their keyboards and monitors, because it is an environment where they can spout their ignorant, bigoted rhetoric without fear of a real reprisal.

If any of you anti-trans folk find yourselves here again, keep in mind you haven’t walked ten feet, let alone a mile in my shoes, or my child’s.  One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is that only an asshole comments on another’s marriage or family life.  You aren’t in it, and so you have no idea what goes on behind the scenes.  You don’t know the hand-wringing, the tears, or the conversations that go on over a few years.  You don’t know how my daughter idolizes her older brother, and would have been happy to follow his example, if only it felt normal to her, which it never did, although she tried very hard to like the things he liked and to be the kind of boy he was.  In short, you don’t know shit about my family, or any other family that is raising one of these beautiful, brave children.  Life will throw enough shit at them, without the uneducated, “internet expert” chiming in on that which they know nothing about.

As for my fellow parents of trans-kids, family, friends, and any trans-persons who find themselves here.  As I tell Fab, you are beautiful for who you are on the inside.  I am amazed at all of your bravery for going out into the world everyday with head held high, affirming who you are, regardless of the ignorant comments, ill-intentioned and well-meaning alike.  You’re ability to grin and bear it is astounding.  Know you have those who will listen to you, and who will fight for you to be seen as you see yourself.  There is much love out there, and in the end love does trump hate.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

lion-and-cubI think the title sums up the events of the week for our family when it comes to trans-related issues in our family.  Obviously, as any family with a transgender child will tell you, and as I wrote last week, trans is just one facet of our family.  It does not define who Fab is, and it does not define who we are as a family, but it is a  part of our life that we are always aware of, especially when national events force us to think about it.

THE GOOD  

The kids went to visit their grandparents for the week (my busiest work week of the year), and I went to court for Fab’s name change.  Living where we live, and the things you hear does lend a certain nervousness to the event.  All that said, the day couldn’t have gone any better.  I was one of the last people to go before the judge, and while she asked others seeking name changes for children the reason why, she did not ask that of me, and in less than five minutes I was done and down in the clerk’s office to get the name change orders.  Fab was happy to hear it when we shared the news on the phone, and while we didn’t think it was a big issue to her, we found out otherwise the week before when she was at the doctor’s and saw the paperwork with her old name still on it.  It was a solid win for us, and another step towards getting all her official documents to match who she really is.

THE BAD

Trump…do I need to say anymore?  Reversing guidance that helps to make our kids feel safe and protected is not only irresponsible, but stupid as well.  Based upon comments before becoming president, I honestly don’t think he personally cares where transgender students pee, but his base and those around him do…so for me this is pandering of the worst kind.  Mom’s anger and fear for Fab is growing as a result of this kind of stuff, among other things, and I hate to see her feeling this way.  Fab, for now, gets to live in a bubble we’ve created.  We know she is aware of more than she lets on, but there is much we are still able to shield her from, and we are thankful for that.

For me, the removal of guidance was mostly symbolic.  A Texas court had put a halt to Obama’s guidance almost immediately, and so it hasn’t been in effect.  Gavin Grimm’s case will go before the Supreme Court in March, and for me this whole issue was always going to come down to Gavin’s case.  If the Supreme Court finds in favor or splits, then Gavin, and all transgender kids will be able to use the bathroom of their choice, regardless of what President Orange thinks.  Granted, it doesn’t help that the executive branch has removed its support of Gavin, but the Supreme Court does not exist in a vacuum, and I have to hope they will do the right thing.  Fab already uses the ladies room most of the time, and as of yet she doesn’t mind using the clinic bathroom at school.  However, we know the day is coming where she will start to care, and my hope is that before the next school year begins that SCOTUS will deliver it’s ruling, and it will be in favor of all transgender students rights.

THE UGLY

By ugly, I am talking about people, and with all that is going on in the world, both Mom and I find it harder to stay silent, and we are no longer hiding who Fab is from those we know, which means if we haven’t told them yet then we are no longer going to hide it when someone asks us “How are the boys?”.  Mom dealt with a co-worker on Friday who asked this question.  This is a woman that my wife has never really cared for, because the woman is ignorant on a wide variety of subjects, and a Trump voter.  She is one of the many who thought the Affordable Care Act was different from Obamacare, to clarify the level this woman is informed on.  Anyways, she asked Mom “How are the boys?” and Mom told her that we actually have a son and a daughter.  She then shared about Fab, and showed her a picture.  The woman responded with, “Well, at least she’s lucky she is pretty,” and Mom went off on her using language she was not proud of.  Another co-worker stepped in to explain why that statement was offensive to my wife.  All women should get why it is offensive without explanation, as if the worth of a woman is determined purely by her beauty.  However, if you take it a step further and apply it to transgender girls/women such a statement becomes even more offensive.

I am a man because that is what I am.  I just know it.  How masculine, muscular, handsome I am has nothing to do with it.  Now, Fab is a girl.  She has known this for a long time in her heart.  Living as a girl makes her feel normal in her own skin.  Living as a boy never felt right to her, and caused her the stress of always pretending.  She did not transition because she thought she would be a pretty girl, she transitioned because that is who she is.  Certainly most of us like to look our best, and I’ve discussed before, as parents, it makes us breathe easier that she will never have to go through male puberty, but telling a transgender person that they’re lucky they’re pretty or that they pass is insulting…period.  Not all cis-gendered women are pretty, or thin, or super feminine in the binary sense, but that doesn’t discount who they are as women, so why should it discount a transgender girl’s identity as a girl?  People need to think before they open their mouths sometimes.  I’m just glad that Mom didn’t punch her, as I’ve said Mom’s been on edge for awhile now.

Finally, I got to deal with an old friend who told me that he doesn’t agree with the whole transgender thing on Facebook.  I’m in no way close to this guy, and haven’t seen him since high school, so it really wasn’t skin off my back.  He ended up deleting his posts after I went after him online.  This is in large part because while his statements were bigoted, he didn’t seem to get that until after I laid it out. Even then,  I still wonder if he got it, or deleted his posts because he was afraid others would see him as a bigot.

When someone tells me they “don’t agree” with the transgender thing, they are telling me they don’t agree that my child should be able to exist as herself.  If you take a moment and substitute “trans” thing with “black” thing, “Latino” thing, or “Jew” thing…how does that paint a person who says such things?  Just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it is wrong or incorrect.  My statement led to the man telling me he worries about the safety of his son and daughter…which is also shadow speak for “trans people are perverts.”  I told him he should worry more about cis-men he knows as they are the ones most likely to assault his children.  I invited him to share his data on evil trans-predators, but as I said he deleted his thread without ever sharing…because it is all bullshit.

My hope is that perhaps it made him think, and will continue to make him think.  I can’t know for sure, as I probably will never have contact with him again.  I dropped him as a FB friend, because if someone sees my kid’s existence as a “joke” then that is someone who will not be in any part of my life.

On another note

The kids came home from their grandparents yesterday, and we are thrilled to have them home.  After spending all day in the car to go and get them, this leaves me with one day for my weekend, and so on that note I’m going to stop writing and go spend some quality time with my little monkeys.

 

Tolerance or Acceptance?

1922_anger_insideout_341Feeling a little annoyed and angry this morning because of something I just saw, which got me thinking.

Have you ever listened to someone say they had a “black friend” or a “gay friend”,  but you knew that person would also never invite that “friend” into their home for dinner or a party?  I’ve been quietly feeling this way more and more on behalf of Fab as of late.  Part of the reason has to do with Facebook giving me insight into a parent of one of Fab’s friends, and also the knowledge that Fab has numerous little girl friends at school that adore her, and yet she has not been invited to anyone’s house since her transition.  People are supportive of our decision and tell us we’re brave and that she’s an inspiration, etc.  Many of us with trans-kids have heard these words from people, but this is America, where talk is cheap and putting action to those words doesn’t seem to always go along with the talk.

September was the last time that Fab went to a friend’s house.  She’s had a friend over several times since then, but the invite hasn’t gone the other way.  This happens with cis-kids as well, but at a certain point it leaves you wondering are people tolerating my baby, or do they really accept her?  (I freely admit that this could also simply be the by-product of the busy life of working parents and/or working single parents as well…but I also know there have been invites to other kids since then.)

Tolerance is a simple thing, and many pat themselves on the back when they display such behavior.  Obviously, as a white male, I am going to speak from a position of privilege,  because I recognize I enjoy more than most.  When people confide to me, not knowing about my daughter, and I listen to what they’re really saying…they’re saying they tolerate minorities and LGBTQ folk but they don’t really “accept” them.  Tolerance is easy.  It’s working with or being at the same party with people that make you slightly uncomfortable, but not letting on.  Tolerating someone means you are equipped to make small talk, maybe even give a compliment, but you have no “real” interest in getting to know them better, other than as maybe curiosity to be used in some anecdote or story you might tell other people.

Tolerant people often only see that marginalized individual as one-dimensional.  Fab is transgender, and that is what a tolerant person would see first.  They might think:  “She looks so passable.”  “Her mannerisms are so feminine.”  “Her clothing choices are so girly.”  or one of my favorite.  “If you wouldn’t have told me I would never have known.”  These are surface thoughts, and sometimes they even emerge as comments.  I feel bad for trans-women especially on this front when someone tells a woman, “you are so lucky you pass, most would never know,” because, as any transgender female would tell you, the measure of why someone transitions is because of their ability to “appear” as a beautiful woman (you should be able to detect my heavy sarcasm).

Now, I’ll be the first to say as the parent of transgender girl, that the ability to grow up “passing” is a bonus for Fab.  However, I have listened to the stories of of older trans-women, and it both angers and saddens me to think what many have to go through because society has been so intolerant of them.  As a parent, who loves his child, I would never want her to deal with such things.  The fact that she’ll never have to go through male puberty, and all the scars that it can bring for a transgender woman is a blessing for her, from my perspective as a parent.  However, I also don’t think “trans” when I look at my daughter.  I think little girl, and that is how she sees herself.  I also am thankful to those women who are paving the way, who transitioned later in life, and are making the world a more accepting place for my little girl to become an adult in.  “Trans” is also a label for them, and some embrace it proudly, others just want to be seen as women, but regardless of how others see them, of how you see them, I can guarantee you they see themselves as women because that is who they are.

This is the first step to acceptance, seeing someone for how they see themselves.  Fab is a little girl whose favorite color is pink.  She loves dresses and hates sneakers, preferring flats, sandals, or dressy shoes.  She loves anything with Dove Cameron in it, and would dress like her character, Liv, from Liv and Maddie, everyday if we’d let her.  She loves Beanie Boo stuffed animals, but she isn’t a fan of dolls.  She likes playing Lego video games with her brother.  She loves the outdoors, especially taking walks in the woods.  Athletic, she will play soccer this spring.   She gave up a promising future as a male gymnast, and while she misses it, she has no desire to currently go back to anything from, before.

Her school teachers, staff, and students know her to be kind and caring for others.  While we at home also know this, I also know her to be a little girl that likes to cuddle, and who loves to laugh, and who looks forward to me coming home from work every day.  We also get to experience the diva with a temper that she never shows others outside our family.  I’d like to think most adults around her see her as she wants to be seen, and am thankful that she believes this to be true.  All of this points to acceptance, and for me and her mother, she is our daughter and we love her like no other.  We know her and see her for who she is.  Trans is just one facet, and a minor one when it comes to our daily lives.  Now this may change as she gets older, but it is up to her to decide how much being “trans” is a part of who she is, and it is never for others to decide that for her.

Accepting someone doesn’t mean you have to be their friend.  We all have different personalities, and some we click with, others we don’t.  That’s alright.  What’s not alright is when you see someone and immediately discount who they might be because of the color of their skin, an accent, or the way they look.  Just because you stayed in the room doesn’t make you accepting.

Would you be willing to strike up a conversation on a park bench, or would you count the minutes until the bus arrived (Think Forrest Gump)?  This is the most simple of ways to think of it.  Acceptance is seeing the person and not the label you use to initially define them.  Do you see a black man, or a man?  Do you see a gay couple, or a couple?  Do you see a trans-woman, or a woman?  If you see the former and not the latter, then you have some work to do.  If you can admit it to yourself then you are on the right track.

Hair, Bullying, & Brother

rapunzel_poseYes, we’re still around and going strong.  Unfortunately, I have this pesky thing called a job, and the beginning of the year sees my busiest two months of it.  So what has been up in the land of Fabulous since last I wrote?

Well, to begin with, Fab and I went backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, and we were actually hiking the trail for real (not just a dirty euphemism).  It was nice to be out alone with her, and again I was amazed by her strength and resilience at such a young age.  Having hurt her ankle, she had three miles to get back to the car.  With tears in her eyes, she did it, and once done was proud that she had hiked 14 miles in two days, and started talking about the next trip we were going to do.  Yes, my little girl wants to be pretty, but isn’t afraid of a little dirt either.

We’ve also discovered that her idea of beauty has much to do with her hair, and it simply isn’t growing fast enough.  While we, and others think and tell her she’s pretty/cute/adorable (take your pick), it doesn’t matter what we all say or think…it’s what’s in her head that counts the most.  Fab told Mom that she looked too much like her brother, meaning short hair equals “Boy.”  Mom, being awesome, told Fab she would cut her hair and they could grow it out together.  Fab said yes to the idea, but they have an appointment to explore the world of extensions this weekend.  Depending on cost, we might let her get some if it will make her feel better about herself.  I know some may think we’re crazy to think about letting a seven year-old get extensions, but unless you have a transgender child, you have no idea what we deal with on this front.

Let me give you an example:

Fab had a sleepover last weekend with her best friend, Wonderful.  They had a great time, and Wonderful fits right in with our family, but after leaving Fab is reminded of what she doesn’t have that cis-girls do.  Often, the next day is spent with her being nasty to Mom and Brother, because she feels bad about herself.  None of us can really understand what goes on in her little head, because none of us feel like we were born in the wrong body.  We can be there for her, and try to do those little things that make her forget about the things that heighten her dysphoria.

Dysphoria is real, as is bullying.  Unfortunately, we had another episode this month with a boy at lunch.  Apparently, the boy’s parents are big Trump fans, and have been talking around him.  As such, the boy took it upon himself to tell Fab that he didn’t like the way she looked as a girl (I wanted to tel her to tell him she doesn’t think he looks good as a boy, but I decided to be the adult), or the clothes she wore.  He also told her that if he was president that he wouldn’t allow her to be a girl.  Two days of it, because she tries to tough this stuff out, and she finally told us what was happening.  We told the teacher, and from there it was “taken care of.”  Apparently, the boy is having it rough at home, is being mean to several kids, and decided that Fab was an easy target.  We’ve been assured that this episode is over, and now we wait for the next, because when you have a transgender daughter who is out at school…there will be a next time.

Things came to a head for Brother today, and apparently someone is having a rougher time with Fab’s transition than we thought.  They are best friends, and he would never make her feel bad about being who she is, but he is eight and he remembers he used to have a brother.  He is missing his brother bad, and has been grieving on the inside.  It is starting to come out in sadness and anger…and it is breaking our hearts.  Fab is oblivious to why her brother is sad and angry lately.  Thank goodness!  However, he’s had a couple breakdowns around missing his brother, and he’s been crying a lot lately.  Today, he told the school counselor that his sister got rid of all her boy clothes because she doesn’t need them anymore.  In and of itself, not a big deal, right?  Except, that happened back in November, and so this says he’s been thinking about it.

Speaking with the school counselor today, we decided it’s time to get Brother a therapist.  He needs someone to teach him how to deal with what he is feeling, and to help him understand that it is OK to have these feelings.  Some in the transgender community would have you think that it isn’t alright to mourn, and while you should be supportive of your transgender relative, that doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to your feelings.  Mom and I mourned in our own ways, and still have our moments.  Brother is entitled to mourn in his, and we need to get him to understand that it is OK to miss his brother.  Time will help with this, but we hope a therapist will help him express and vent his feelings in a more healthy way.  I was never a fan of therapy until my children, but I can see the value of it for them, and anything that helps them adjust in a more positive way, then it is something I am all for.

Until Next Time!

 

 

Love My Life

I’ve shared this elsewhere before, but I wanted to share the video here.  I first heard this song shortly after Fab made her transition, and it spoke to me.  It is all I could ever hope for her and her brother.  Robbie Williams isn’t known well here in the States, but I’ve always been a fan, and as he wrote it for his children it takes on that dimension in my mind.  Feel free to let me know if it resonates with you.  I think it hits beautifully upon all that I feel or could want from my children as they grow up.

Tether your soul to me
I will never let go completely
One day your hands will be
Strong enough to hold me

I might not be there for all your battles
But you’ll win them eventually
I’ll pray that I’m giving you all that matters
So one day you’ll say to me

I love my life
I am powerful
I am beautiful
I am free
I love my life
I am wonderful
I am magical
I am me
I love my life

I am not my mistakes
And God knows I’ve made a few
I started to question the angels
And the answer they gave was you

I cannot promise there won’t be sadness
I wish I could take it from you
But you’ll find the courage to face the madness
And sing it because it’s true

I love my life
I am powerful
I am beautiful
I am free
I love my life
I am wonderful
I am magical
I am me
I love my life

Find the others
With hearts
Like yours
Run far, run free
I’m with you

I love my life
I am powerful
I am beautiful
I am free
I love my life
I am wonderful
I am magical
I am me
I love my life
I am powerful
I am beautiful
I am free
I love my life
I am wonderful
I am magical
I am me
I love my life

And finally
I’m where I wanna be