(If you came searching for ALO's Barbeque, click the word. It's a good song, that's why I borrowed it's lyrics.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

To those who thinks it's a choice...

...or that we've been negligent parents, forcing a normal curiosity into a switch of genders, or worse, are at fault for even letting her act and dress "like a girl." Then why did my child sob all weekend by the phone, waiting for anyone to call? Who would ask for this, or push somebody into this? Each new friendship lasts a few days, until they realize it is social suicide to hang with my daughter. Were it not for her camp friends, I don't know what she'd do.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's in a name?

mingziI am smitten with names, always have been. As a youth I read the What Shall We Name the Baby book over and over until it was ragged and dog-eared. One day my father approached me anxiously asking whether I was pregnant. No I wasn't, it was the love of names, the sounds that roll off your tongue, their meaning, the rhythm.

Friday, January 21, 2011

When a confession attracts the wrong audience.

Okay let me start out by saying ick, ick, ick.

And then I'll go on to say that I put our lives on the line on a regular basis by writing about my family's experience raising a transgender child. Families have been reported to child protective services, and while this usually just creates some bureaucratic stir, it sometimes ends up with children being removed from families or granted custody to estranged spouses unconvinced of their child's condition. With an adopted child, having an outside agency step in had a higher risk.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Boring, complaining post: Sorry, it's all I got.

Couldn't get to sleep until 1am last night, then woke up at 7:00.

Had a hundred things to do because my next bunion surgery is tomorrow but was so sleepy I had trouble getting going.

One of my best friends called to say her mother died. Her father died long ago and her mother-in-law passed last month, so no grandparents for her daughter.

I couldn't decide whether to cancel my surgery to go be with my friend. After checking out other possible dates and trying to figure out what to do, I ended up opting for surgery.

I called a couple of her friends we all knew from China.

I started trying to do some last minute things before surgery. Laundry, cleaning out bathroom, cleaning out stinky fridge. Empty recyclable bottles lay on the bathroom floor ready to sort. Veggies and the glass plate from a fridge drawer were out on the counters when my friend called to ask me to book her tickets. I got on the phone and managed to do that.

I realized I was late for an appointment just when my friend called to say I'd mis-booked the second leg of the trip. Unbelievably, I spent over an hour on the phone with the airline. As I was transferred to each person, we had to start the whole process over again and repeat all the new information.

My kids kept on calling, having arrived home to an unlocked door and things strewn all over. They were worried about me (I found out later) but I couldn't answer their calls because I was on the phone with the airline.

By the time the last agent came on the phone and asked for all the information over again I started crying. Meanwhile my friend called to tell me she had to check her luggage but it had to go to the old location because her new itinerary wasn't booked yet. She started consoling me as I cried in her ear. I told her she was nuts because she was consoling me and her mother had just died.

At home I made dinner and the children helped. After dinner I cleaned up then got ready to go out grocery shopping.

I checked on facebook and my favorite person I play a form of scrabble with disappeared. We used to chat as we played and were an even match. I thought she had dumped me and started crying again.

I bought a Hoho at the supermarket and it tasted disgusting. I ate all three in the pack anyway.

Back at home one son helped me unload the car (yay!) and my husband helped put the stuff away (thank goodness.)

Then my kids started fighting as I continued to clean up. I ran upstairs and said, "I couldn't get to sleep last night, I got up early, my best friend's mother died, I cleaned the house, spent hours on the phone booking tickets and am having surgery tomorrow. If your sibling upsets you keep it to yourself. Throw a pillow in your room but do not talk to or engage them." Ten seconds my son made my daughter mad and she threw water on him.

Fifteen minutes later the twins were playing so rambunctiously and shouting so loudly that I called upstairs and asked them to quiet down. Instead they gave me some flack.

Then I remembered I had to still book car rentals. That went smoothly.

After that my facebook friend reappeared and we started playing Lex. Phew.

Wish me luck on my surgery.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sharing the idea of transgender people with children

The post below cites studies that show teaching children about transgender people--including transgender children--won't cause them to become transgender, but will educate them about diversity and will help transgender children feel safe to open up about their identities.

Should We Introduce Children to the Concept of Transgender People

                                Joanne Herman, Huffington Post, January 10, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What will people think?

There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbours will say. Cyril Connolly

When you have a transgender child, the different stages of reactions can feel endless:


My first semi-unsuccessful chat, was with a neighbor. I told her Janet was born in the wrong body. She seemed to listen well enough, and so I asked her, "I don't want people talking about us behind our backs, if you hear anybody with questions can you tell them to address us directly?" Soon after I discovered she had been talking about us to a mutual friend to the tune of "how could a child that young possibly know??" I could  have explained...


In the school yard I overheard children sniggering as they passed us. I bristled, but at least Janet was oblivious. ADHD can have it's benefits.


Before Janet  transitioned she was having trouble in the lunch line for her feminine behavior. I called up the cafeteria worker to explain the situation. She said, "Oh, I understand. You know my sister's gay." Same with the dentist assistant's cousin. Likewise the middle school
secretary's daughter.


Not long after baseball season started Janet changed her name and pronouns--luckily it was a at least a co-ed league. Before we  broke the news to the team I told a fellow baseball parent whom I didn't otherwise know. Hearing our story she burst out in tears, overwhelmed, saying what an amazing thing for this child to leave China and get to start out anew in a loving family who accepted her.


The same mother above met me the next week and told me she had been defending us at church. She told her fellow parishioners that they didn't know our family, so who were they to judge? Similarly, a friend who lived in a different school district bumped into me at the supermarket  and enthusiastically informed me that she'd been standing up for me. Grateful though I was, there was a side of me that didn't want to know strangers around town were gossiping about our family. Ignorance might have been bliss.


Three casual acquaintances surprised us by sending cards and one by calling  expressing their support. In a note Janet's teacher wrote:
I was very impressed with how the whole 3rd grade handled the talk this morning. They were the ones reminding me to change her name tag and when I called her L by accident they reminded me.


My brother wrote, "I guess your husband's family was finally due for a girl grandchild! Congratulations...you can count on us to accept her choices. Cindy will have to share the spotlight now." Even more so my mother was thrilled to have another granddaughter to shop for and promptly took her to the mall.


Gay friends would tell me that "he" probably was just gay. Others would tell me "he" would grow out of it (and still do.)

A friend told me she had been a tomboy her whole life, only hung with boys, excelled at sports and would have agreed to be a boy if somebody had asked her. Maybe, but she never insisted she was a boy.

Others would pinpoint any "boy-like" behavior in her and claimed proof she was "really a boy." She loves to duel with sticks and run around crazily, hence she's a boy? People have trouble understanding there is no real gender duality, rather a gender spectrum.


One doctor we saw just ignored the information, even though her name on the file had been changed. He continued to address Janet as "him," even commenting on the scabs and bruises on her legs that "boys will be boys." After two such appointments we found a new doctor.


TYFA monitored closely the more well-known "hate groups" for reactions to our news (so we didn't have to see it.) While there were many  nasty discussion for weeks, they eventually petered out. Some sent hateful letters to Janet's school principal. Luckily no one has ever been mean to us personally, which isn't always so for families with transgender children.

My own overreaction:

Two days after she transitioned at school a bespectacled boy asked Janet if she were a boy. Tamping down my Mama Bear, I bent down and asked him how he'd feel if someone made fun of him for wearing glasses, that we were all different, but we don't make fun of differences. His mother, apparently nearby, saw me and didn't like the way I talked to him and complained to the principal (can you say triangulation?) In retrospect, he was probably just confused. My bad.

And so...

Overall we've been relatively fortunate. Janet still gets some jabs from classmates, which is upsetting, but she rallies. As long as she's not stealth there will always be unwanted attention. If I can give back by writing and helping others through this process, then it will be worth it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011