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Dear President Obama

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Dear President Obama, I’m writing today to thank you. Nearly two years ago, my youngest son socially transitioned to claim the male identity he always understood as his. As his parents, my husband and I worried about what his friends might think, what their families might think. We hoped that he wouldn’t lose anyone that he loved. We thought about how he would be treated, if he would be safe. If you have talked to other families like ours, you know difficult and stressful it is. We were also brave. We stood upon a steady foundation that made us surefooted. We thought that if anyone […]

Lucky

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I feel very, very lucky. My family has its challenges – perhaps more than most.   But honestly, most of the time I walk around in a state of happiness that we’ve got it so good. It could be so different. We’ve got the ultimately uber-important basics: a roof over our head, food on our table, general good health, jobs. But we also have a family of four – three of which absolutely support the littlest one, who is transgender. Our extended families support him too. We do not live in fear of some family member discovering a secret. We do […]

Jumping the Waves

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Raising a transgender kid is a lot like jumping the ocean waves. Most of the time, it’s an experience of extreme joy and happiness. You rise up and float down and it’s all a blast. There are those moments when you turn your back, bear the impact and then let the laughter explode as those waves unfold behind you and you realize you are still swimming. It thrilling and connected to the world in way that feels big and important. It is, in the true sense of the word, awesome. And then sometimes you get taken under and you can’t […]

Sifting

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E needed blood work. It was absolutely not what he wanted to do on his day off, but we had to get it done. I had made an appointment at a lab. I had to warn him. “Remember, the insurance card still has your old name. The insurance company has that information. So, at the lab they will call us into the room using your old name. The papers will have the wrong name on it. But you know who you are. And everyone that matters in your world knows who you are. I know it stinks, but it’s what […]

Gender Conference East

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For anyone interested, this conference promises to be educational and supportive.  It’s November 13-14 in Baltimore, MD. The 13th is a professional day and Saturday the 14th is a day of programming for families and for kids.  It’s an opportunity to gain some information on medical, legal, school-related, and emotional issues, just to name a few, from some of the leaders in the field. It will also be nice to meet other families with gender non-conforming and trans kids.  Book soon, it seems to be filling up quickly. GENDER CONFERENCE EAST      

The Older Brother

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My older son, S, is approaching seventeen years old. Through this whole process with E, I’ve always had S in mind. S was fourteen when E first verbalized his claim that he was a boy. I thought, this is not the kind of attention a teenager wants on his family. When a child is gender non-conforming or transgender, it affects every member of the family. In a way, we all transitioned. S is a solid, intact kid with a very clear sense of self. He keeps his emotions close and is not one to do a lot of sharing about […]

Allies

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I was lucky enough to attend the “Ally Meeting” of friends of ours recently. Their child had decided to transition and they were gathering a group of friends, to help them learn and understand and feel comfortable. It was so beautiful and supportive – a room filled with moms and educators. Some were a bit nervous and but all were openly wanting to be there for this family. It reminded me of the Ally Meeting we had when E transitioned. Every kid is different. Every transition has it’s own flavor and flow. Every family has their own comfort levels around […]

Capital Letter Issues

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The alarm in the middle school was blasting. I couldn’t even walk in the door, it was so unbearably loud. I waited outside until it was over. I was hoping it wasn’t a bad omen. Today was the day of my Big Meeting and I felt I needed all the luck I could get. We gathered together in the principal’s office. I knew the Capital Letter Issues on the agenda:  E’s Name on his Records, the Bathroom, and the Locker Room. These are hot button issues for all parents of trans kids. So far, the middle school had professed to […]

Green Day

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Last summer, E went to a camp called School of Rock where he played the drums. Once, during a break, the counselors broke out into Green Day’s “Jesus of Suburbia.”   When E came home that day, the first thing he told me as he hopped in the car was that he was the only camper who knew that song.  In fact, he knew the whole thing. All 9 minutes of it. He played along and knew every word. I was picturing his little self behind a big drum kit, surrounded by all those teenagers in their ratty t-shirts and skinny […]

Caitlyn Jenner

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I remember the 1976 Montreal Olympics. I remember so much about that year: our country’s bicentennial. There were special quarters minted. Dorothy Hamill won gold in the Winter Olympics, prompting me and countless other girls to get that unfortunate haircut that seemed to work for Dorothy alone. On July 4th, my family went to New York City to witness the spectacular and majestic Parade of Ships as part of Operation Sail on the Hudson River. I remember that year because it was our country’s big birthday. I was just a young kid and it was exciting and special. The amazing […]

You Can Play

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Both of my kids play a lot of ice hockey.   If any of you reading this have kids who play hockey, you will know what that means. From the end of August until the beginning of March, we cannot make a reasonable plan to do anything else. And even after that, it’s sketchy. It’s a long, demanding schedule and it’s taken on for a reason. Most kids I know who play hockey are full-blown in love with it. It’s a disease, a religion. E is an ice hockey goalie. This is an added dimension of crazy to an already insane […]

Guidance

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I’ve been trying to schedule a meeting with the administration of E’s Middle School all summer.  Scheduling something with 5 or 6 school administrators over the summer has proven to be a challenging task.  Still, I need to talk to them.  I knew that they had been at the staff training at Concord back in February, so they were educated and on board.  I had seen them at different events from time to time and I could tell they were well aware of E, knew me, and were eager to support us.  Yet as the start of school approaches, I […]

How to Socially Transition (If You Are E)

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The other day, I received a call from a mom I know from our support group. She called to ask for some advice. They were planning their child’s social transition and she wanted to ask me about E’s. She knew that E’s transition went well and she wanted to know what we did to make it work out so well. Of course, there is no answer for that, and there is a very long answer. Both. Every kid is unique, every family, every school, every community – completely individual and unpredictable pieces of a puzzle. What might work for one […]

Trans*forming The Dialogue: Questions

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I am participating in Trans*forming the Dialogue, Simmons College’s Online MSW Program’s campaign to promote an educational conversation about the transgender community. By participating in this campaign, I will be offering my perspective on what TO ask and what NOT to ask trans*people. In thinking about this question – what is ok to ask trans people and what is not – the first thought that comes to mind is that I need to clarify something. I am a parent of a trans child; I am not a trans person. That is a specific perspective and I can’t pretend to speak […]

Transitions

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Two weeks ago, my mother died. She lived near us and was a huge part of my family’s day to day life. My children adored her. To say that she adored them would be an understatement. She was the only person on the planet who wanted to talk about my kids more than I did. She was their Nana. She was everything you would imagine a good and loving Nana to be. She managed her 5 ½ year battle with cancer with amazing strength. She worked until 2 weeks before she died. She was independent and brave. She had 5 […]

The. Absolute. Perfect. Name.

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My husband picked it on the day I found out I was pregnant. Still, we had considered others. How about Ivy? Millie? Lucy? Daisy? So many hours of this speculation. Trying them on with the middle and last name that we knew. Laughing at funny combinations. Wondering what nicknames could follow. Putting it together with my older son’s name, knowing how often they’d be said together. All of those names were good, but none were The. Absolute. Perfect. Name. The one he stated on day one was it. There was no doubt. It is everywhere. It’s on the growth chart that hangs […]

Checking

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Ever since E told me that she is a boy in our very first bathtub talk, she has maintained her “don’t tell anyone” stance. She knew I would tell her dad, my husband, but beyond that, the door was locked.   Her sense of herself as a trans person was always something that she wanted to keep just there, with herself. A few months ago, she began to express her fear. The fear of people thinking she is weird. The fear of losing her friends. I have always tried to comfort her at these times, reassure her. She always just listens, […]

Life As Me

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E is in fifth grade, so in our school district, that means that next year she will go to middle school. A kid like E can’t just go off to a new school without some prep. So I met with her current principal and school counselor to start the conversation about what E needs in her new school. Let me say a few words about the administration at E’s school. The principal is a woman who is everything you want a principal to be. She is a leader, a mother, a person of compassion and good sense. When she talks […]

The Haircut

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E needed a haircut. This is another dicey little part of life with a gender expansive kid: the hair. When she was younger, I took her to my amazing hairdresser for haircuts. But E really didn’t want to go to this very feminine, beautiful salon. So I drew upon my years-dormant skills of cutting hair. When I was in college, I made a few bucks cutting boys hair in my dorm. I had no idea what I was doing, but I seemed to make it work out. For the past few years, I’ve cut her hair.   Her hairstyle has been […]

A 10 STEP GUIDE TO SURVIVING YOUR CHILD TELLING YOU THEY ARE A BOY (or a GIRL – whatever you have been thinking all along that they aren’t.)

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1. It is bone crushingly hard, at first. When your child first tells you, your head will spin, your heart will ache and you will feel overwhelmed. You will realize that you have absolutely no idea what to do. You will feel a tsunami of responsibility. You will be scared out of your mind for them.  Know you are not alone in this and that it will ease. 2. There may or may not be a lot of crying on your part. There was for me. I did it in the shower and put on a brave face for my […]

Learning (or The Dangerous Words of Michelle Duggar)

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I have a confession. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time lately thinking about Michelle Duggar. I can’t believe I’m saying it but there it is. Michelle Duggar has been weighing me down. I’ve started and stopped writing posts about her for weeks now. In all different formats. A general rant. An open letter. Even a Letterman style top ten list.   I can’t seem to get it right and she just keeps swimming around in my mind. It all started many weeks ago when I read about a robocall that she did urging the residents of Fayetteville Arkansas to […]

I Really Wanted To Go

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I really wanted to go. As much as she didn’t want to go, I did. There is something very special about this group. It’s hard for me to find the words to describe what it’s like to sit among them. We are all at different points in our stories. Some have been in the group for years and are real friends now, often going out for dinner afterwards. Their children are in a different place than E as well, many on hormone blockers, some on cross hormones. They share their experiences with their doctors, their insurance companies, their school administrators. […]

She Really Didn’t Want To Go

She didn’t want to go. I mean, she really didn’t want to go. Our next support group was approaching and E was strongly expressing that she DIDN’T WANT TO GO. There were lots of reasons, some real (I don’t feel good) and some not real (it’s stupid.) Some superficial (it’s FRIDAY NIGHT and I want to see my friends) some profound (I don’t want to talk about myself.) The way she was upset was that scary way she gets. It falls into the category of big upset I don’t want to talk about myself. I know you don’t; it’s ok. […]

Fear

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I had a visit with some old friends yesterday. Two amazing women who I haven’t seen in many years. It was so great to see them and catch up on their lives. I was also sharing mine, telling them about E. At one point in our conversation, I said that E knows her options – the many ways to be a girl, the openness of who she can love as a girl or a boy, the possibility of her being a boy. One of the women, who is gay, said that she thought that was great. As a child, she felt […]

Support

I’ve never been a very good group-joiner. I’m much more of a one on one type. But going through this process with E, the idea of a support group is something that I’ve thought about. In most areas of my life, I have been able to find people who get it (whatever “it” is) because they have lived it too. This is a different arena. Not too many people have lived this one. Over the summer, I met a wonderful woman whose child was a young adult who had transitioned. I absolutely loved talking to her. I could see in […]

Word Study

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Most parents I know have a mission about making sure that their kids understand that they are loved unconditionally. It’s parenting 101.   I have felt that desire with my kids too. I think that mostly kids pick up on it, they feel it from the look in your eye when they walk in the room. But most of us endeavor to tell them, sing it to them, whisper it in their ears while they sleep. You are loved. You are precious. You are perfect. When E began to expose her gender variance to me, this instinct went into overdrive. I […]

Summer Break

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I took a break. I didn’t plan to, but as the summer wore on I found myself avoiding my blog. Sometimes I felt guilty – if I want to reach more people, I should be writing more. I know that to be true. But I just wanted some time to not think about things. To just be. When I left off on the very first day of July, I was wondering about the landmines of E’s life. Mostly our summer was landmine-free. She was with me most of the time, at our town pool, enjoying the majesty of the mountains […]

The Small Stuff That is Actually Big Stuff

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I love summer.   I love having the kids around more. I love that there is (almost) no homework. I love the escape from the daily grind of school and carpooling and sports. I love being outside. This year, I decided not to book too many camps for E. She is turning 10 soon and those double digits loom large. I want to keep her near me this summer, while I can. Her 15 year old brother is working, working out, and out and about much of the time – as he should be – so I know what’s coming. This […]

Kitchen Floor Thoughts

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There she is, a tiny little package sitting on the kitchen floor. It is morning and her hair is all tumbled and reaching. She is tapping the floor, calling our equally tiny dog, Micro. Micro is a very hyper critter and spends a lot of time running around in manic circles. But in the morning she is usually calm, expanding herself with her front paws on the floor, her butt high behind her. She eases over to E and sits in the little space created by E’s crossed legs. She offers E her wide-open neck for a massage. She adores […]

Opening Eyes

This was a big week in the media for gender-nonconforming and trans people.   Everywhere I looked – my Facebook page, my Yahoo news feed, and even my newsstand – the world of gender non-conformity was showing it’s beautiful face. Laverne Cox is only one of the reasons I’m obsessed with Orange Is The New Black.   It’s so cool that she is on the cover of one of the cornerstones of news – Time Magazine. This fabulous family shared their story with the world.  So many of the moments in this video hit home for me.  Break out the tissues. […]

The Middle Place

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When E first started talking to me about stretching the boundaries of her gender, I spent a lot of time wondering. I wondered if she would be a gay woman. (Oh, please please please, make it be that she is “just” gay.) I wondered if she would live her life as a male. I wondered if she would be one of those stunning women who wear their hair short and slicked. They wear ties all the time and usually have a knowing smile and very bright eyes. I was comfortable with gender boxes, as most of us are, and I […]

Photographs and Memories (or The Last Dress)

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I had a project to work on today. I sat in front of my computer and opened up my photo file to begin. I take tons of pictures. As my kids get older, I feel anxious about the time passing. I want to capture it all. To remember every school musical, every teacher, their orthodontist, trips to the zoo. I think it is because I don’t remember these things from my own childhood; I want to preserve it for them. Today, I was searching for something older so I scrolled back to the beginning and began to go through. The […]

Disney Three Ways

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E is a lucky kid.  She has been to Disney World in Florida 3 times.  Well, 2 ½ times, I guess.  The first time, she was in utero.  Our older son was 5 at the time. I did a lot of fastpassing and sitting on benches while my husband and son hit the rides since being pregnant prohibited me.  Once E got to be about 4 or 5 years old, many of her friends were sharing their Disney adventures and she would ask and ask – when can I go?!?  We would joke with her that she, in fact, had […]

The Concert

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When I sent the email to E’s Music Teacher, I copied E’s principal.  She has been a fabulous support of E and once again, she did not disappoint.  She responded right away, saying that she is E’s student as well.  It took the Music Teacher a little longer to respond.  I’m sure she was processing it, gathering her thoughts and also trying to manage my copying her boss. But soon enough her response came.  She put the issue at hand to bed right away – she would let E do what the boys are doing.   She also decided to offer […]

Dear E’s Music Teacher

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Dear E’s Music Teacher, I understand that E’s class is singing a song in the upcoming concert entitled “Who’s A Lady?” My understanding is that the girls alone stand and do motions that are considered typically “girlie.” I would like to respectfully request that E be allowed to sit with the boys during this song. As you may or may not be aware, there are some people that don’t fit neatly into the male/female gender binary. There are hundreds of thousands of children and adults who do not comfortably identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth. We consider […]

The Weird Kid

“I don’t see your kids playing outside much anymore.  Is everything ok?” “Yes, it’s just those twins down the block.  They are such nightmares.  I don’t want my kids playing with them so it’s been easier to just stay in.” I’m listening to this conversation between two moms that I really like. I get what they are saying too.  I’ve had a similar situation in the past where my kids and I have sprinted from car to house in an effort to avoid being swarmed by annoying neighbor kids.  The twins are out of control, they say.  Mean to everyone.  […]

Our First Casualty

I guess I figured it would happen eventually. I’m pretty optimistic in general, but I’m not foolish. I knew that not everyone we know would follow us down the rainbow brick road. And it seems we’ve had our first casualty. One of E’s very first friends is a girl she met in a pre-school art class. I will call her Donna, although that is not her name. At the time, they appeared very similar – they were the smallest ones in the class, two teeny, giggling, adorable kids. They were fast friends. I became friendly with her mom and a […]

One World

I wish I could talk to Janet Mock. I think she has so much to teach me. I’ve watched her exchanges with Piers Morgan and her appearance last night on The Colbert Report. I love how she talks; she is so smart and understands a world that I’m trying so hard to understand. I think that Piers Morgan was trying to understand it too. I think he wanted to do and say the right thing because he is open-minded and openhearted, but he made some mistakes. That same sentence can be said about me in my life with E. Janet […]

I am E

She does this sometimes. She creeps down from her bedroom after I’ve tucked her in. She has some kind of offering. A drawing. A love note for me. The screenplay for the movie she and some friends are making about unicorns. A bookmark made of paper clips and string. Today it is a news report. She squints her eyes and lowers her voice, trying to be like a serious newscaster. She starts to read to it me “Hello I am E, on the news.” Wait, I tell her. Start again. I want to tape it. All I can think of […]

The Puberty Movie

The other day it arrived in E’s backpack. The letter about the puberty movie. E is in fourth grade and in her school, that’s when they start showing the kids short films about puberty. Here’s how it works: they separate the boys and girls, show the movies and have a short instructional and question and answer period. I had been anticipating this for some time and I figured this wasn’t going to fly with E. Since we live in a world where most people live as either male or female, I’ll share with you that currently, E is called “she” […]

Exactly Right

This is what happened, one year ago. E and I were going to take a bath together.  She is eight and I know the days are limited that she will want to take a bath with her mom.  So I take it whenever it comes.  We are getting in the tub and something comes up about breasts. How are you going to feel when you get your breasts?  I ask her. I will just have a transplant, she responds. Remember: she is eight.   What she means is:  I will have them removed.  And then it comes.  The conversation, the words […]