Yesterday’s post- Say Nothing or Something– was not the post I thought I was going to write when I began it over a week ago. In fact, I scrapped half of it and changed the name a few times. I had actually thought about the post for weeks before even trying to formulate a coherent post and in the end, I still felt that it was rambly and not quite what I wanted to say.
The past few weeks have been filled with some unpleasant blindsides, truths and a bully along with his spineless followers thrown in for good measure. I had recently said that I felt like I was being pushed out of my own life. In too many places, I was getting the message that I no longer fit in or was no longer wanted and/or needed. To say that I’ve been floundering would be something of an understatement. I can’t remember feeling this insecure and unsure since my teenage years.
And the Say Nothing post was taunting me. I might not know where I belonged anymore or where I was headed but I knew I needed to write it. And to write specifically about how I wasn’t sure if I had something to offer. (I’m not going to go into details about “the hits that just kept on coming” but suffice it to say, I was rattled in all areas of my life, and quite frankly still am.) I knew that my need to write was not a result of “the hits” because it had been flitting through my mind for awhile. So I attempted to write it.
And here is what happened-
You responded. Through blogging I have had the pleasure and honor of meeting incredible people. First of all, there is the blogging community. Wow! Although I have been writing my entire life, this blog was the first time I let anyone actually read what I wrote. I cannot think of a better place for a beginner to get her toes wet.
Whether you liked, commented or read my post and did nothing more, THANK YOU! This community is amazing. People are so supportive and are always willing to cheer you on and help you to succeed. My little oddities as a writer don’t seem quite so odd in this place. 🙂 I have the courage to continue to write and I’ve been toying with venturing into writing fiction here, too. Bloggers are the best!
When I took the Blogging U courses, I met some really great people, who have become friends. I have connected with them outside of this community and their friendship means the world to me.
The other group that I’ve been blown away by is the LGBTQ community. I wasn’t sure who was going to read my blog, although I thought that they might be parents of transgender kids. (Makes sense, doesn’t it?) Some of my most enriching experiences were with the transgender people I’ve met here. I have never been looking for support or a pat on the back as a parent. As I’ve said quite a few times, I don’t know how to be any other type of mom than the one I am. I cherish the heartfelt exchanges with my fellow parents of trans kids. This group, the LGBTQ community both within the blogging world and out, are consistently the most gentle, kindest, welcoming people I have ever had the fortune to interact and connect with.
But parenting a transgender child is not easy. Especially when you spend 18 years not knowing you’re doing it! And it was as I shared our journey and heard from people who were on their own journey, but as full grown adults, that I felt that we were going in the right direction. I didn’t want Kris to feel that they had to wait for someone to die before they could be their true self. Although I will never truly know what it feels to be transgender, through research, reading and talking with Kris, I wanted to be sure I was getting an accurate feel for where they were at and what was going on inside. It was through Kris and my transgender friends here that I was able to gain a better understanding.
And my heart broke as I thought of Kris’s childhood and the confusion they must have felt for so much of it. I’ve been assured that it wasn’t all torture, gloom and doom, and there are videos, photographs and memories that support that. Still, I wanted to be sure that moving forward, my child would have to opportunity to live the same life that everyone else was given and that they would be accepted as their brothers were- for who they were- not what people wanted them to be.
As Kris has become more comfortable expressing their gender in a feminine way, there are people who thought/think that Kris changed their mind and had gone back to being a girl. I don’t feel compelled to go into a lengthy explanation. Kris is Kris. If someone asks, I will answer. The depth of the answer depends on the person. I consider this to be a huge step for me- no longer feeling the need to explain or justify Kris’s life to anyone. But it came with a price and that was that when I continued to speak as the parent of a transgender child, it didn’t really look that way anymore. If you have a nonbinary or gender variant/creative/nonconforming child, you know that appearances are a wild card on any day of the week. And those folks don’t even ask because they get it. They live it too.
It’s that world that follows the gender binary that gets caught up in semantics and all the little details. Some of those people live in the LGBT community and are parents of transgender kids. I respect their conviction that their child is transitioning to male or female, regardless of the child’s age. But I did stumble here because I didn’t want to make them feel like I was judging or questioning their choices for their kids. I was them once. And it didn’t occur to me that maybe Kris was not a boy. Luckily, we live in a world where transgender people are more visible and at times it appears that genderqueer people are highly visible. It was after reading comments on the Say Nothing post that I realized that I needed to continue to share our experience, no matter what we looked like on the outside.
More people are comfortable living with two genders- male and female. The concept of gender being inherent is foreign to them, even though they would probably admit to feeling their gender down to the fiber of their being.
Consistent, insistent, persistent. These are words that you will hear tossed around when a person questions their child’s gender. Do they show signs of these three things? Maybe that’s where I tripped up. Because Kris was all three and according to those markers along with professional assessments, Kris was a boy. But Kris wasn’t. Kris spent their life saying “I’m a boy” but that was not what Kris meant. And let me tell you, this kid has above average intelligence and always had a sophisticated vocabulary. What Kris was actually saying was “I’m not a girl.” Kris was a child. How could they know that the two don’t mean the same thing? They only knew two genders. But they knew their sense of who they are did not match the label they were given.
So my place in the LGBT world is a little bit different than I thought it was going to be. While I can still speak to what it feels like to have a female to male kid transition complete with name/gender marker changes, binder and testosterone, I can continue to stress how important it is to take your time and listen to your child but also listen to your gut instinct when it comes to this child. I can share my ftm kid experiences but I can also talk about where that led.
Do you remember the game “Don’t Break the Ice”? It had the square frame with plastic ice cubes in it and you took turns tapping on an ice cube, trying to free it without collapsing all of the other cubes? Well, my life feels that way lately- like I’m not quite sure if all my ice cubes are going to crash to the ground while I tap gently on this one. (I do have a point here.) My cubes are pretty shaky right now but thanks to the people who took part in commenting on my last post, I have safely freed one of my cubes and maybe the remaining ones are not as much in jeopardy as I thought.
I need to thank everyone who commented on my last post- Shawn, Kris, Claudette, Curious Mother, and Ruth. (I hope I didn’t miss anyone!!) You inspired me to write this post. Your comments helped ground me and give me direction. My heart was warmed so much. It’s hard to find words to express my gratitude.
There is a strong possibility that this post is just as rambly as the last one but inside I feel like something was set straight. My thoughts on this topic are focused and no longer shooting off in all different directions. And even if Kris should show up with that buzz cut looking like a boy, I’m ready.
11 thoughts on “Follow Up to “Say Nothing or Something””
You talk about the things I wish I could. Some of my immediate family do not know about my child’s need to be recognised as a different gender (it is my child’s choice to not tell them) but they follow my blog, so this has been a topic I have not been able to write about, except in the most discreet way. I read your blog and go, yes, that is how I feel too.
Thank you for having the courage to put your thoughts out there for others to read, thank you for writing of the good, the bad and the ugly that tags along with change. Thank you for being a good Mum, it shines through light a bright sun.
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Claudette, I’m happy that I can help. You won’t go wrong as long as you follow your child’s lead on this. They know what they are comfortable with. It’s harder on you, as the parent, because as I found, people tended to come to me with questions, not Kris. But I preferred it that way. I didn’t want Kris to have to face their doubts and ignorant comments. I was sure Kris would already be facing enough of that in their life without adding relatives to that list.
I will never forget what it felt like when Kris first came out and we were navigating a very unfamiliar world. I’m so relieved that this subject is becoming more visible in the world. 🙂
If there’s every anything I can do to help, or if you just want to talk, please feel free to contact me!!!
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Thanks Kat, I will. Just taking it as it comes for now.
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That’s all you can do, Claudette. 🙂
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I was in awe of your last post and wondering how I could do it justice in a reply. Now reading your follow up, I need to shove my loss for words aside – I think you’re courageous, admitting we don’t know all the answers is hard, doing it as the parent of a transgender child is even harder, with so many people watching and judging and waiting to prove us “wrong”.
I agree with you about the blogging community, I’ve found so much warmth and kindness, willingness to share and support. The way transgender adults especially have extended their support humbles me. I feel like my journey is nothing compared to theirs, and that for my child they’ve paved the way for her with their own blood, sweat and tears.
I’m grateful that you’re willing to share your insecurities with us because it frees us to share ours.
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Thank you for everything you said! I mentioned feeling like an exposed nerve when Kris came out. It was actually a liberating process for me because I had to face my fear and some ignorance. I had to overcome feelings I didn’t know I had. And it was like there was nowhere to hide. Because our world became so small so fast, we had to be completely open with each other. I needed Kris to know they could trust me.
I am so grateful for the response I’ve gotten from everyone. It helped me find the courage to keep sharing these things. It’s important to me that parents who are just beginning this journey know that anything they are feeling is normal and that it will get better. 🙂
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One of the advantages of living in Australia is that I get to write and think while you guys are (mostly) sleeping and then each morning I can see what everyone in the northern hemisphere has been writing and thinking. So, I hope you don’t mind that I’m about to write . . . a lot. Your last post broke down some kind of dam wall in my own head.
So, I’m the mother of a trans kid and I’ve been blogging about it for nearly two years now. The first thing I’ll say is that I share your feelings about the warmth and general awesomeness of the blogging community. At the moment I’m ONLY subscribing to WordPress – I’ve deactivated Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve found I tend to trust people blog – they’re intelligent, writerly people and they contribute thoughtfully rather than troll. I’ve been blown away by the generosity of gender diverse and trans people (and their parents) who have just found my blog and have taken the time to support me and help me with whatever I’m struggling with (not a complete list but Lesboi, JanitorQueer, GenderNeutral, Kris,Chivalry Sundead and Eleanor Burns – I’m looking at you).
My child told me that they were a boy just before their tenth birthday. We’d all been aware we had a gender nonconforming girl for some time and thought that was fine – in fact, I think we were rather proud. The trigger for my child telling me that they were a boy was that puberty was their “greatest fere” (as they wrote at the time). There had already been some behaviour that I frankly didn’t understand, like packing underpants and insisting on going to male washrooms. I did know the word ‘transgender’ but didn’t really think of it in relation to my child.
So much of your last post hit me like a ton of bricks, Kat. All the emotions (walking around like you have an exposed nerve), the support of your child but the fear of hormones, sterilisation and top surgery. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that top surgery FREAKS ME OUT. I am personally very attached to my boobs – this sounds a little gauche or something but I LOVE them – they’re the favourite part of my body. I know my son’s body is not my body – but that’s part of why this is so hard. If a child comes out of your body – they WERE your body at one stage in your lives. After that, you both commence (what seems to me) a lifelong process of separating and individualising, but it hurts so much more when a child feels alien in a body that you helped to create – and a body that is perfect to you just as it is.
I think one of the things that you’ve opened up for me (and maybe many others) is that we seem to be at a point where it’s quite hard not to talk about stories that are not transitions from FTM or MTF. I also haven’t found a forum where I can talk about my reservation about cross-sex hormones except ‘4thWaveNow”. Here I get into how the whole world is crazy right now. I don’t know if you (or anyone reading this) knows this forum, but it started off by being a ‘lefty feminist critique’ blog, specifically focused on trying to encourage young trans men to accept their female bodies. That was a seductive idea for me. But several things have become clear:
* Gender issues really shouldn’t be political. The colour of one’s skin shouldn’t be political, or whether or not one can hear well. I guess all of these things become political (and so many other things) because humans discriminate. And groups like 4thWaveNow are happy to join forces with what we seem to be calling the “alt-right” if it means that “women born women” will be protected. I guess most people know the rest.
* I can see that in this environment you and Kris could get shoved out of the ‘club’ a bit, Kat. But this is part of what has moved me about your writing. You’re standing in your truth. The other thing – and I’ve felt this – is that maybe parents with children who are continuing to persist with hormonal transition are a teeny weeny bit jealous of you and Kris. I say that because a few parents in my circles have children who don’t want physical transitions and are happy with their bodies as they are. Privately (or not so privately) I wish my son was the same.
*However, he’s always been very ‘binary’: he is in a girl’s body but he is a boy – and he intends to get on T and get a penis as soon as its possible. The thing is, he’s 12. Also . . . and this is hard . . . he was amazing as a girl, and presented in quite a feminine way.
* What I take from you is that yes, things can change. Perhaps the only truth IS change and we have to honour this in ourselves and in others. Other bloggers have been inexpressibly helpful in that they’ve shared what they’ve felt is innate and what parts of themselves have been important to change. I owe them so much.
“What Kris was actually saying was “I’m not a girl.” Kris was a child. How could they know that the two don’t mean the same thing? They only knew two genders. But they knew their sense of who they are did not match the label they were given.”
— this bit of what you’re saying is powerful to me. So much depends on our ability to express our truths through language. That’s why I think it’s very important to keep trying to find the words and to keep talking. I think that Lesboi said in your last post that this is hard work but it actually is important work, because with better language we can understand more. So, when you feel able, please do keep speaking up.
I’m very grateful for all you’ve written. Thank you again. I promise not to always write so much!
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I think I need to get some sleep before I respond. It has been a long day here. Thank you for responding. You’ve given me more to think about and new bloggers to look up. And I didn’t realize I wasn’t following you- I thought gut I was- but I am now so that’s been sorted out. Talk more tomorrow!
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You are always welcome to write as much as you want! There are many things I want to say in response to your post. 🙂
First of all, I also tend to trust bloggers over everyone else. I am on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and I still feel that my most real connections are here.
Surgery, yes. It scared the living hell out of me. I was terrified that Kris was going to do something that could not easily be undone! I understood that wearing a binder was sometimes painful for Kris and I wouldn’t have wanted to force them into that for the rest of their life but when they decided that they did not want surgery, I was relieved.
I understand your feelings about your child and how you created them. I have always felt that I had a good handle on what was going on with all of my kids. I didn’t need to know every deep dark secret but I knew when one was going through something. This one- it was a blindside, which sounds kind of naive to me in hindsight because there were all sorts of signs. I saw them- I just didn’t know they meant this.
“Standing in your truth”- this part did not come easy. I “faked it until I could make it” for longer than I care to admit. I knew I was dealing with life or death here so I needed to get on board and FAST. So I went through the motions for at least the first year, if not longer. But when I was seeing actions and responses from people that I thought I could trust, I realized that I needed to make it clear that I wasn’t humoring a spoiled child here. And it was that desire that drove me to stand in my truth. Kris’s life means everything to me and if they decide they want female pronouns again and people give us looks, so be it. I don’t care. I just want Kris to figure out who they are.
I really appreciate the time you took to write this. The process of writing these posts and talking with you and the others has helped me in ways I can’t even describe. 🙂
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I feel the same – this helps me so much. It’s been such a hard week (again). I caught ‘O’ (my child) reading my posts out loud to some of his friends on Face Time last night. I realised it was time to re-think privacy. I also realised that I can’t leave this blogging community. You and the others are the most important thing to me in this journey. I feel like blog posts allow the admittance of things like “faking it until you make it” – that kind of ambivalence is hard to have on a Facebook forum, for instance, but it’s so necessary.
Last night I deleted all the words I’d written over the last two years and immediately felt a great loss -it hurt so much it alarmed me. I know now that I need to keep writing and connecting with people like yourself. Thanks for everything you write. In some, I think the answer to the question you began with: keep silent or speak up? – is that speaking up is necessary, when it’s possible. Take care, CM
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Hugs, CM! Lots and lots of hugs! I can’t imagine the sense of loss you must feel over having to erase your words. I’m so sorry! No one from my family reads my blog. They don’t know the name and they are respecting my need for privacy. A few people close to me have expressed interest when I’ve mentioned a post I wrote but don’t push it when I don’t show them. It’s not them I worry about. It’s the relatives who are no longer part of my inner circle.They took offense at Facebook posts that might or might not have been directed at them but were so vague they could have been about anyone. If they were willing to tear apart our extended family over nothing, they would hate me for this blog.
And on the matter of Facebook- I’m in a number of groups for parents, allies, friends of transgender people. Some are secret groups and some are closed. They are a great source of comfort and support but I’m still guarded with what I share.
It is so important to keep writing! It is so therapeutic for me to get those words out and hit publish. There’s something about that final act that makes the difference between writing for the blog and writing in a private journal.
Hang in there! 🙂 -Kat
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