Family · Friday Fuzz · Gender

The Crux

Crux. What a cool word! It just came to me. Or maybe I read it somewhere and it jumped off the page shouting, “Hey! Looking for me?”

crux
krəks,kro͝oks/
noun
noun: crux
  1. the decisive or most important point at issue.
    “the crux of the matter is that attitudes have changed”
    synonyms: nub, heart, essence, central point, main point, core, center, nucleus, kernel;

    informalbottom line
    “with whom John will be living is the crux of the situation”

Regardless, it is the perfect word to describe this post by my friend, Charissa.

What I Wish Every Person Knew

text

If the person who sent you this text was someone who claims unconditional love and support for you (to your mother and all others) but had not contacted you at all in the past year, how would you feel about this text? Kris elected not to respond.

As Kris’s mom, I have issues with this text- then again, I have many issues with the sender so this should be no surprise.

My point is—the crux is— how can Kris feel supported or accepted by this behavior? Kris has not heard from the sender again. But in the sender’s mind, she has already mentally checked Kris off  her to-do list and added this task to her “signs I support Kris” list. And in my head, at the time she texted I see a scene in my head of her watching tv, having a beer or two, a commercial for that Jenner interview comes on AGAIN and her thinking, “Damn! I probably should text K…” And seconds later, she’s engrossed in her show again, Kris all but forgotten.

How would you feel if you received this as the only contact you got from someone who touts herself as a very supportive person?

Is it really that difficult to text, e-mail, call? To make a real effort to connect with another human being, one you have known his entire life and say that you love?

*This text was sent before “the interview” aired.

Gender

The Other Side of the Coin

As the parent of a transgender child, I worry a lot. I’m a worrier by nature so this came to me naturally. Sadly, the worries are very real and very scary when it comes to Kris. This article was out and about in the T world a few weeks ago and I began this post back then. Life got in the way and it sat here waiting to be written.

I Am Queer, I Am Non-Binary, and I Don’t Know What It Means to Feel Safe in Public

After reading this article, I asked Kris if he ever felt unsafe in public. He said that he felt he passed and that he was in no real danger. I reminded him to be mindful of his surroundings and it was no different now than it was when he was a teenage girl wandering around alone.

It really scares me that he isn’t just a little afraid. But deep down inside I think that he is. He has this habit of burying things and just shutting down. The first time he did this where someone other than me noticed it was in 4th grade but I can trace it back to when he was 4 and stopped speaking to everyone except us, his parents and his brothers. He has done it regularly for the past 18 years and if he’s closed shop and locked the doors, no one is getting in until he’s ready to share. On the subject of his safety, he is closed.

Back when he went away to school, when he first came out and was actually “in transition” bouncing back and forth between a female and male appearance, someone attempted to mug him while he was out shopping. He apparently broke away from his assailant and ran into the nearest store, staying there until it was safe to leave. I didn’t hear about any of it until after the fact. It made me sick to hear it. I worried even more about his safety.

When I first read this article, I focused on the dangers presented by strangers…. people who might pose a threat to a person who appeared to be transgender.

After yesterday’s Navy- Seal incident, I was forced to face another reality. What if the threat was not an anonymous person who was transphobic but someone Kris knows who was targeting him specifically?

Well, that’s all I’m going to say on this for now. I have to work on Writer’s Quotes and Wonderful thoughts for the day!

Have a good one!

Kat

Family · Gender

“Is Miss Kerri Carpita home?”

I can pinpoint the exact minute my day changed from the low key- chilling with baby Beej day to the off-kilter not quite right day it ended up being.

I was giving Beej his bottle. He was sprawled across my lap, his one hand beating rhythmically against the bottle as his eyes wandered around the room, looking for new and fascinating things. He occasionally made an approving sound around the nipple in his mouth.

Kris was preparing to leave for a job interview. He was looking sharp, having carefully coordinated his jacket, shirt and tie. I heard a beep-beep, which I assumed was Kris checking to see if the car was locked or unlocked. He had walked out of the room just seconds before.

I heard a knock at the side door. Then I received a text from him.

‘Some guys are at the dooooooor’

I leaned over since the door was within my line of sight. It was open.

THERE- that was the exact minute when the day changed.

I stood up, still feeding the baby, and talked as I walked to the door. At this point, I thought Kris had left. “I don’t understand why the door is open right now. I don’t think it’s warm enough for it to be open.” (Beej didn’t seem too concerned. He was focusing on his bottle, and the fact that we were walking and eating at the same time.)

I didn’t know what to expect when I reached the open door. It could have been anyone from door-to-door salesmen to Jehovah Witnesses. I did not expect to see two Navy Seals recruiters on my doorstep.

“Is Miss Kerri Carpita home?” one young man asked politely.

Kerri’s name sounded foreign and strange coming from this stranger. I was used to the unexpected person asking about Kerri by that name. But they were people that knew Kerri and possibly did not know about Kris. That was to be expected. This was not.

At this point, I went numb. I forgot that I was holding Beej in my arms, giving him a bottle. I stared at these two men and answered, “No.” It didn’t even feel like the word had come from me. That was how disconnected I felt.

“Does she live here?”

I paused. “No.” I was sure that I sounded wooden.

“Do you have a forwarding address for her?”

Another hesitation on my part. “No.”

One of the men nodded slightly and they wished me a good day. As they walked down the driveway, I turned from the door, not quite sure how I felt. The numbness seemed to be slipping away and I was left with an indescribable feeling.

And as I turned to walk back into the family room, still not fully aware of Beej in my arms, I froze as I saw Kris standing just out of line of sight past the open door.

We stared at each other, wide eyed and speechless. I tried desperately to read the expression on his face, or to get a feeling for his emotional state. All I got was scrambled waves of confusion and I wasn’t sure if I was reading him or me. I quickly surmised that my expression most likely matched his.

And then the emotion that I felt began as a distant ache that blossomed into a stabbing pain in my heart. I felt the beginning of tears welling up in my eyes and I quickly turned away, walking to look out the front window.

“They are getting into their Navy-Seals mobile,” I reported to Kris, who rushed over to see. Yes, it was a Navy-Seals mobile. You’ve seen those cars, vans and trucks which are advertisements for their business- not just a panel on the side but a full work of art that covers every inch of the vehicle. Well, that’s what these two uniformed men climbed into. And if I hadn’t read it on their chests, there it was on their vehicle- “NAVY-SEALS”.

“Why?” Kris’s voice was soft and hesitant.

“I don’t know.” My response was slow and honest.

We stared at each other in silence. Then I felt those tears fighting their way out again. Probably in response to Kris’s eyes which were looking suspiciously moist behind his glasses. Beej’s slight squirming brought him back on my radar and I looked down, grateful for the distraction.

“Even if I filled something out in high school-” Kris’s voice trailed off.

“That was four years ago,” I responded. “And did you?”

Kris shook his head.

“Even if you did, it sure took them a long time to get here.”

We both smiled.

“But why?” he asked again.

We were treading lightly. Very very lightly.

In that split second after they men had left and I had turned from the door, I had a suspicion. Something that I buried when I realized that Kris was there. Right there.

After Kris left for his job interview, I pulled out that thought. Had someone played a mean joke on Kris? What else could it be? Although Kris occasionally got mail addressed to Kerri, it was usually credit card offers….never Navy recruiters. And never recruiters coming to the door. And if it was a prank, it was cruel. So incredibly cruel.

Kris reported that he wasn’t sure how the job interview went, which was out of character for him. He usually felt it went really well or that he bombed. When I saw him a few hours later, he seemed to be moving as if in slow motion. Since I was fighting my own emotions, I think I probably appeared the same.

Hours later I’m not sure what I feel. Was it shock and sadness at hearing Kerri’s name spoken by someone I didn’t know? Or just hearing Kerri’s name? Sometimes when I hear someone else called by Kerri’s name, it causes a twinge in my heart. I still have so many mixed emotions tied to that name. Was it my fear that someone was playing a cruel joke on Kris? Was I worried that Kris felt it too? Did I feel that Kris was not as safe as I thought? I don’t know. I just don’t know. And I really don’t like feeling this way.

This is an example of the odd things with which we deal with Kris being transgender. Sometimes these things make us laugh. And sometimes they do not. Maybe that’s the hardest part of all- it’s not the not knowing when something is going to pop up… it’s the not knowing how we are going to to take it. Or are we going to react the same way? Is something that’s funny to Kris going to be painful for me? Or the reverse?

And then there are people who will think that this was no big deal. But for us, today, it was. And for those that don’t understand, THAT’s kind of a big deal, too. It’s symbolic of how some people in our lives just don’t get it. I was all ready to go on about how this is never going to end as long as people who have transgender people in their lives choose to turn their backs on them and not at least TRY to understand what their person is going through. I was getting myself worked up to a pretty good rant. I’ve got it in me. See, I’ve been so flipping busy “letting things go” all over the place I feel like Elsa waving my arms this way and that with icicles forming beautiful frozen sculptures and buildings all over the place. Something tells me that until those frozen masterpieces appear, I’m going to be like a ticking time bomb. These days I’m letting go of A LOT. (And I mean A LOT!!!) There is a limit.

And tomorrow, there had better be NO recruiters knocking on my door or else the encounter will go very differently because this time I won’t be caught off guard.

A to Z Blogging Challenge · Gender

R is for Red

My 5 year old grandson, CJ,loves his favorite Uncle Kris A LOT. What he doesn’t know is that his uncle grew up as a girl. As a family we have discussed finding the best way and the right time to tell him. We know it won’t change his feeling towards his uncle in the least. He’s at the “town crier” stage in his life and out of respect for Kris, he doesn’t need to know yet. Since he is a bright kid, we realize that he might connect the dots and come to his own conclusions before we tell him. He has seen a small handful of pictures of Kerri as a little girl and he has seen the pictures around the house of Kris as a little boy.

Until that day comes, I have been looking for books to help him and his baby brother to understand. Well, as is the case in all things transgender, the offering of kids books that address the issue of gender are limited. On top of that, the vast majority of those books write about transgender girls (male to female).

And then I found the book Red by Michael Hall.

Red by Michael Hall

This is the story about a crayon who was red, at least that’s what his label said. The only problem was that he wasn’t very good at being red. People in his life suggested different remedies to help him feel more red. And they had a lot to say about him, including that he wasn’t trying hard enough.

No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't be red.
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t be red.
 It wasn't until he met a new friend who asked him to make a blue ocean that he realized the truth.
It wasn’t until he met a new friend who asked him to make a blue ocean that he realized the truth.

This book is the perfect tool to introduce young children to the concept that the outside doesn’t always match the inside. In the end the blue crayon keeps his red label and I think that’s okay. It sends the message that it’s acceptable to be whatever color you are and labels don’t matter.

As for the lack of books that show little transgender boys (female to male), Kris and I plan on writing a book about a little spitfire named Kerri who grows up to be CJ and Beej’s Uncle Kris.

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0

Family · Gender

All Because of a Dress

As Kris began his transition, our household transitioned, too. Bits and pieces of the 18 year girl were packed away, thrown out or stuffed into a closet. Or so I thought. When Kris started purging, boxes and bags appeared outside his bedroom door, with this pile of dresses flung over the top.

I told Kris about a prom dress drive that was in its planning stages at his old high school. He liked the idea of the like-new dresses going to girls who couldn’t afford new ones.

When the day came to donate the dresses, I packed up my car and took them to school a few hours before the actual drive would begin. My friend, John, was there to help me take them to the room where they would be kept. As I hung them up and fussed a little over them, he asked, “Are you okay?” somehow more in tune to my feelings than I was myself. I swallowed the unexpected lump in my throat and moved my head. Whether it was a shake or a nod, I wasn’t sure. Neither was he.

I went home, feeling a little off. Deep down, I knew those dresses had to go. And I was ready to let them go.

But I wasn’t able to settle down when I got home. I paced from room to room, starting a task but not finishing. I was feeling rattled but didn’t know why.

As time passed, I felt agitated and I realized that my heart was beating faster than usual.

I was distracted and shaken. I felt like the walls were closing in around me.

I tried clearing my mind. Taking deep breaths. Relaxing. No luck.

I checked the clock. The dress drive was about to begin.

Without warning a swirling mass of emotions washed over me all at once and I couldn’t catch my breath. I was shaking and I felt like I was going to jump right out of my own skin.

I had to get to the school. FAST.

I don’t remember consciously thinking about what I was doing.

I just knew that if I did not get back to that school before the other people came to drop off dresses that something bad was going to happen. I felt myself unraveling….. so I grabbed my keys, tossed out a “I’ll be back” over my shoulder and practically ran out of the house, leaving behind a confused son and puzzled husband.

I made it back to the school in record time and speed walked to the room that held the dresses. John stood nearby and one look at my face told him that I was not okay. “What?”

“I need a dress.” I looked at the dresses hanging there, protected in plastic. My eyes raced back and forth until I found the one I was looking for. The one I didn’t even know I was looking for until I reached out and grabbed it….and clutched it to me.

“Kris?” he asked. I felt his concern but outwardly he was very calm.

I shook my head, blinking back the unexpected tears over a dress I was never really sure I liked. I kept bunching the dress in my hands until it was nothing more than a crumpled bundle- a poofy white confection of a bundle.

We were silent. Me waiting for the panic to subside, because it wasn’t until I actually laid my hands on the dress that I realized I was having a panic attack, and John being solid and present for me.

 Why that dress?

Warning- As I tend to do when I’m talking about Kerri-Kris pre-coming out, I will be switching to feminine pronouns.

I have so many memories of Kerri as a little girl. These memories are a mixed bag. Kerri was not forced to do what is viewed as stereo-typical girl things growing up. It was her choice. Ballet, pom poms, American Girl Dolls, clothes, make up, jewelry….. all her own choice.

And going to high school dances was another choice she made. She loved dances. Unlike the horror stories I heard from friends with daughters of the same age, we did not experience nightmare shopping trips, hours spent matching accessories and hair and make up drama.

Kerri was pretty low-maintenance when it came to this sort of stuff. She picked out dresses without much fanfare and occasionally I purchased a dress for her and she wore it. Don’t get me wrong- she wanted to look pretty and she always did. She just didn’t turn the process into an ordeal.

And then she was a senior and it was prom time.

She was so excited! She was going with a male friend who wanted a date but not the relationship ties. It was the perfect arrangement for both of them.

We went shopping for the perfect dress. Store after store. Dress after dress. I stood outside the dressing room doors along with the other mothers, doors popping open and random girls walking out, posing, with everyone watching. Kerri was no different than the rest.

I’ll never forget the look on her face when she slowly opened the door. She had finally found “the” dress.

She glowed as she stepped out, smoothing the floating soft fabric. Then she twirled around and said, “I feel like a princess!”

Her obvious joy brought smiles to everyone’s faces, including mine. But it just didn’t feel right.

Here I was, having that mother/daughter bonding moment that I had been struggling with for 18 years….and it did not feel right. It was such a normal thing. What was wrong with me?

And as I held that dress pressed against my chest, I realized why that dress. It was the last dress I bought for Kerri. It was one of the last times I spent with the child I thought was my daughter. But I also know that it’s okay for me to keep the dress for as long as I want. While it does represent the daughter I no longer have, that’s an IMPORTANT thing- because it reminds me of everything Kerri was and everything she was not. I don’t long for Kerri to come back because as you know if you have a transgender person in your life- Kerri was a temporary part of our lives until Kris could BE and all the important parts of Kerri live on in Kris. The farther I get from Kerri, the clearer Kris becomes.

Everything, even a panic attack, happens for a reason.

I’ve included a link to an article about how it feels to have a panic attack. If you’ve never had one, you might find it interesting– How it Feels to Have a Panic Attack