“Gender is not a choice; transition was”

friday fuzz

Read article here- As youngster transitions from girl to boy, family shifts between challenges, calm

As I read the article, a few points jumped out at me, the first being the statement where Max’s mother expresses concern over what to do if he changes his mind. “Gender is not a choice: transition was.” How simple. How true.

“There are four times when gender issues tend to emerge, Berne said: the preschool years, when gender identity is solidifying; in puberty, when bodies are changing; a few years later, when young adults head to college or begin living on their own; and finally, during midlife, when some people start questioning their life’s path.”

Kris hit three out of four. I believe he would have hit the fourth at midlife if he had not transitioned after high school.

“It challenges our sense of orderliness,” said Berne. “We can be fearful of anyone who is different.”

Understatement, right?

PATCHWORK OF POLICIES

Another understatement. Policies vary from country to country, state to state, district to district, whether it’s school, extra curricular, Scouts, sports…… not a speck of consistency EXCEPT for the Inconsistency.

“Max has taught us so much, just by being himself.”

I am speechless in agreement. What Kris has brought to our family……. there are no words.

Happiness Is a Warm Gun…or is it?

You might wonder why I chose to open this post with that particular song. Well, if you’ve read anything I’ve written, you might know that I’m a big Beatles fan and especially a major John fan. I really do like this song. It’s so strange. It’s actually 3 songs, or the unfinished pieces of 3 different songs, strung together. They are all very different from the other. There are numerous theories on what the song is about- drugs, sex, violence. I have never touched drugs, not into violence and sex? well, that’s my business and no one else’s, right? I don’t really care. Just love this song. Hey, maybe there’s something to that- maybe my attachment to this song is because it reminds me of myself- having 3 very different parts of myself with very few people knowing exactly who I am but making lots of assumptions—-and like this song, probably most of them wrong.

Now, the inspiration for my post- in his post today, My Boy ‘B’ and the ‘Safe Room’- Ronovan writes about parenting and one specific paragraph jumped out at me. If you read it, you’ll be able to guess. Yes, the one about not letting his son play with toy guns or watch gun/shooting related shows. It reminded me of my oldest son, Michael.

When Michael was a little boy he was obsessed with guns. I wasn’t sure if this was a normal phase or if it was truly an obsession. I did know that I did not like it. Not one bit. I refused to let him play with toy guns or watch anything where guns were featured. I went so far as to put toy guns up out of his reach when we went to his cousin’s house. He did not let my efforts distract him or slow him down in his pursuit to play with guns. He built them out of Legos, TinkerToys, …..He even used his little sister’s toy blow dryer. Anything that could be made into a weapon, was.

Now, let’s fast forward to present times. Michael gained a son when he got married in January and considering his lack of experience, I think he’s doing an incredible job. It isn’t t easy to raise someone else’s biological child but Michael comes by parenting naturally.

I was over at his apartment a few weeks ago and I witnessed the following scene between Michael and CJ, age 5.

CJ had built a gun out of Legos and was racing around saying, “I’m going to shoot the bad guys!”

Michael called him over to the couch where he was sitting. He patted the seat and asked him to sit down. He unarmed CJ and asked, “Why do you want to shoot them?”

“Because they are bad and hurt people.”

“You know it’s not right to hurt people, even if they are bad, right?”

CJ’s body language slumped slightly and his gaze stayed trained on the Lego gun on the table before them. He nodded.

“Do I like guns?’

CJ shook his head slowly.

“What’s my job?” Michael asked patiently. Honestly, the patience my son shows continues to amaze me considering what a flighty energetic little boy he was.

CJ answered promptly, “You’re a paramedic.”

Michael nodded. “And what do I do at my job?”

CJ wants to grow up to be just like his Daddy so he quickly warmed to the topic. “You drive an ambulance and you save lives.”

“What do I do when I save lives?” It was easy to see that this was a familiar conversation.

“You help fix hurt people.”

Michael nodded. “Do you know how some of those people got hurt?”

His eyes trained on the Lego gun, CJ whispered, “They got shot.”

“Exactly. And when they get shot sometimes they die and sometimes they are very badly hurt.”

CJ sat there, a solemn look on his face and he nodded slowly.

Michael continued. “I am a  paramedic because I want to help people. Guns hurt people.”

CJ nodded.

“Do you understand why I don’t like guns?”

CJ nodded again.

Michael gathered CJ in his arms and said, “I love you. Give me a hug.”

And this from the guy, who as a little boy would take bites out of his pb&j sandwich to form the shape of a gun. images (5)While I’m on the subject of guns, I cannot believe we live in a world where this sign has to be posted on the entrances of SCHOOLS!

Color My World

“Color My World” by Chicago

I’m taking the liberty of modifying this to a song that reminds me of my husband since I’ve been married forever.

Every time I hear this song, I’m reminded of my husband. It’s the song that plays in our wedding video and it always brings that day to mind. It seems like a lifetime ago.

When you first get married, you have no clue. Especially if you are young and still have growing up to do. You choose this person who you think you want to spend the rest of your life with, not knowing what lies ahead. You don’t know how either of you will handle any crises you encounter or how you will deal with them together. You don’t know how much work marriage takes. There is so much you don’t know. And if you’re lucky, you’ve chosen well and it all works out.

I’ve been one of the lucky ones. My husband has been a constant. He loves us. He cares for us. Through the years we have encountered many difficulties and he has never wavered. When one of us stumbles, we help each other up.

There’s something about this song. Maybe it’s the way it’s so steady and predictable and nice. It paints a pretty picture of a loving relationship that endures. It reminds me of him and I’m lucky to have such a loving husband.

25 Songs, 25 Days: Day 14- A song that reminds you of your boyfriend.

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Friday Fuzz: A Word from Kris

My Friday Fuzz feature has returned with a very special guest post. Please let me introduce you to my son, Kris. The piece that I’m featuring is one that he actually posted on Facebook right after he came out to us 3 years ago. It is completely 100% his words- not a single mom edit. I’m one of those mom’s that won’t touch her kids’ writing unless expressly asked. I have two serious writers and I know that we, writers, are a sensitive bunch.

The reason that this piece speaks so much to me is because although it seems to be quite simple with content but nothing extremely deep, the more I read it, the more I see the small glimpses of Kris’s heart in there. Even though he is there exposing something incredibly personal, he’s still guarded with what he does share. He’s holding back, protecting his heart and his inner being.

This makes me sad because three years later, he’s still holding back, hiding in the shadows, not letting people know him. (People translates to “family”.) I had the opportunity to talk frankly with Michael, my oldest son about this. Yes, he notices that at those functions Kris is always by himself, in the corner, unless one of us is with him. Three years later and he still doesn’t feel comfortable with the people he’s known his entire life.

I am using this piece with his permission so without further ado, here’s Kris-

Me! by Kristoffer on Tuesday, August 8, 2011

Hi everyone who decided to read this. I bet you’re wondering why I’m Kris on Facebook. I’ll tell you the whole story, from when it starts up to today.

When I was a kid, I would play pretend all the time. It was pretty much how I spent my life. In all of my childhood fantasies and in every story I wrote, I was a boy. I was myself and I was a boy.

Somewhere in there, I started going on Habbo, an online thing for tweens, and there I posed as a boy. I was never more comfortable than I was when I was on Habbo. I felt like I was myself when I said I was a boy.

I don’t know when I fully realized that, but I had it pretty figured out by eighth grade. I had no problem dressing and acting like a girl, but a part of me always knew I was a boy. I first came out to a few people that year , about being a guy trapped in a girl’s body. I had no clue what it meant. I nevver heard of it existing.

Then, in the summer following eighth grade, I went to the library and came across a book with a weird acronym as its title. LGBTQ, it said, and I had no clue what it meant. I checked the book out and read it cover to cover. That is when I first discovered I am transgender.

I came out to some of my friends, and the world didn’t end. I came out to my parents, and they didn’t react much. They said they’d support and love me no matter what.

During high school, my hair was pretty long, but I tried cross-dressing once, failing miserably.

I basically told myself to be a girl since it’s the body I was stuck in. I started getting my hair cut short. I got it cut shorter and shorter each time, until I realized what I was doing. I didn’twant a short hairstyle. I wanted to be a boy. I didn’t want to think that was it though. Every time I got my hair cut shorter, I thought I was more and more attractive.

I didn’t fully realize what I can do until the end of my senior year. I finally said enough’s enough and decided to stop pretending I’m a girl when I’m a guy. I told people I would cross-dress, alnd they all told me that all girls wear guys’ clothes, and it’s true. They make men’s clothing more comfortable. But I would be wearing men’s clothes for a different purpose: to be a guy.

The summer started and it finally started to sink in that I’m a guy. My mom bought me some mens clothes, and I haven’t been able to wear womens clothes since. I got some mens deodorant and I seriously can’t stop sniffing my armpits. It’s great. But anyways, I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable now that I’ve accepted myself.

The next step is having other people accept me. I’ve been a guy all my life. I’ve been forced to act like a girl by others but mostly by myself. I’m still me. I’m exactly the same person I have been all my life. You’re just learning something new about me.

I’ve been going out in public dressed as a guy, to express my gender. I have, for the most part, been passing very well. I’m not confident enough to go in the men’s room yet, but I went in there my first time out in public, and I got no weird looks. I’ll do it again some day.

Now, for those of you who care about my feelings, here is how you can effectively not insult me!

  • Refer to me as a male. Use my preferred pronouns: he, his, him
  • Please don’t call me dude or bro if you don’t call all other guys dude and bro.
  • If you don’t want to call me Kristoffer or Kris, just don’t refer to me with a name.
  • When I pass in public, don’t laugh or point out that I’m a girl. I want people to see me for who I see myself as.
  • That said, never out me. I’m a guy.
  • Don’t mention my private parts or the private parts I’m lacking. I don’t like being in this body. Don’t remind me of it.
  • Take me seriously. I may not act serious, but I am. I joke because I’m scared of making people uncomfortable. I really am serious though.
  • If you don’t know if something will insult me, ask me. I’ll be less insulted if you ask than if you just say it and it turns out to be hurtful!
  • Feel free to ask me anything you’re confused about.

As far as transitioning goes, I want to start on testosterone (T) soon,and then later on, I plan on getting top surgery, then bottom surgery.

Thank you to everyone who read this all the way through.

Kristoffer

Rambling Thoughts at 3:00a.m.

Why is it you have your most lucid thoughts late at night when you are supposed to be asleep?

I suspect this might take on more of the tone of a rant than a rambling. Instead of being that startlingly clear thought that I usually have just seconds before falling asleep only to try to recreate it by the light of day, this has nagged at me for awhile. And tonight it just won’t let go. When it has come to mind in the past- not quite formed….just a random thought… I could think about it, mull it over, write it in my head and fall asleep, probably in the middle of my most brilliant sentence. That is not the case tonight.

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Not long ago I had a conversation with a transgender friend about what her expectations were when she came out to her family. She said that she was the same person she had always been and if they could not love her upon finding this out, then how genuine had that love been before? So simple yet so very true.

Over the weekend we went to visit my husband’s parents. My mother-in-law asked about Kris and somehow we wandered off the topic of Kris’s new job and onto some of the online support groups to which I belong. She sat her back straight and stiff against her chair, arms folded across her chest. In a very firm voice she announced, “We love Kris and support him fully. I’m so glad that you have groups and people to talk to about this.”  I paused, taking in the look on her face, the finality of her words hitting me full force. This conversation was over. ****And this afternoon when I mentioned this conversation to my oldest son, Michael, he said the message was pretty clear.

A friend has been working on a letter to her family to explain that her son is non binary transgender. After sharing it, she received a carefully worded and somewhat guarded response from one person and nothing from the other. It caused me to have flashbacks to my own experiences with my sisters over the past 3 years. imagesPAAV0294

As I was messaging back and forth with her, it happened. I looked at the words that I wrote to her in response to hearing about her family’s reaction to a letter that she had taken so much time and care to write. Oh my goodness! I really wonder sometimes. To me, regardless of what’s going on, this is a time when the family bond should overrule everything and it shouldn’t matter what it is. You didn’t confess to your child committing mass murders. Support and acceptance should be instantaneous. This isn’t the time for carefully worded sentences.”

I snapped.

I was sick of it all! So incredibly sick of it!

Over the past three years I have shared exchanges, read posts and listened to the experiences of parents telling their families about their transgender children. I have felt their anxiety as they wrote and re-wrote letters, asking for feedback from us, other moms of transgender kids, in the safe places we have found with each other where we can share our honest feelings and know that we are among friends. I know the feeling of pouring out your heart to people who you think love you unconditionally only to find out that there were conditions on that love after all.

I mean, what the hell? I don’t know what I was thinking. They loved Kris when he was Kerri, screwed up beyond words, on the verge of suicide, not living an authentic life. Then he began this incredible journey to become himself. When he presented himself to those trusted people- the ones who had held him as a baby, the cousins who grew up with him and played with him…..when he shared his most precious inner self with them, they stopped loving him? I’m sure they would say that they do love him. I would have to ask, Is this how you show love? By looking through him? Pretending he doesn’t exist? By not accepting him?

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Do they have any idea what it took for us to share Kris with them? What it took for Kris to share himself with them? Unlike everyone else who they just accept as they are, FLAWS AND ALL- Kris was being held to a completely different standard. He had conditions placed on him. He had to come out the way they wanted and then he had to proceed to handle himself the way they expected him to. It did not matter that he needed to know that they accepted him as who he really was- that he needed what they all give everyone else without a second thought. Nope. His feelings were never considered throughout the past three years. And the more protective I became of him…..his dad and brothers became of him, the more rigid and closed they became. I have gotten the feeling that they are even more upset with me for wrapping my arms around my child and holding him close, that we closed ranks and stuck together, us 7.

It should not take three years for them to determine how they feel, to show support, to BE THERE. If the situation was reversed and it was my niece or nephew, although I might be shocked and need time to process it, like my own experience with Kris, all of that would be pushed back so that I could show love for the child and I would want to be sure to support the child’s parent.

So, here I am, sleepless,wondering if I’ve done something wrong, maybe expected too much from them. But then I think of how this has all fallen to me and Kris since the first time I told my parents and siblings about him. I feel as if every single move has been mine and if I didn’t promptly fall down at their feet in gratitude for the not even half-hearted attempts they made, I had wronged them yet again.

What about that kid they said they loved? He’s still here needing their love more than ever.

untitled (16)Love has to come first and if it does, the rest will work itself out.