Posted in Family, Gender

Sharing Our Stories

Pamela Valentine writes the blog- Affirmed Mom. I met her in one (or more) of the Facebook groups that I’m in for parents of transgender children. There is a lot of crossover in that area due to it being such a small world. Last month she invited bloggers to submit contributions to be shared on her blog during the month of October.

Pamela writes-

October is LGBT History Month. To honor transgender people and their unique histories, I will be featuring transgender people and parents of transgender children all month long. Through sharing their stories, I hope to raise awareness of this amazing population of people who still struggle for basic human rights.

What an awesome idea! Especially if these posts are shared with others. While it is beneficial for us to share our stories with each other, there is so much to gain by getting these stories out there in the hands and minds of people who are unfamiliar with the reality of being transgender or having a transgender loved one. I have had many people who are not part of the LGBT community mention how they have noticed a trend—- (which makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck because as WE know, this isn’t anything new……but understanding that it is considered more newsworthy than in the past)— and if we can get people to sit up and take notice, then we most definitely should!

If you follow my blog, you probably know that I’ve been struggling with writer’s block lately so I viewed this generous invitation as a challenge. In the end, I decided it best to dust off one of my favorite posts for submission. I worked on it, re-writing, deleting, editing…..until I forced myself to stop because as you know, if you write, it’s too easy to fall into a trap of overthinking every word.

Kat’s Story: Words Don’t Come Easy

While over at Affirmed Mom, I encourage you to read everyone’s story in addition to Pamela’s own posts. You might be surprised to see a few familiar faces. Or maybe not because it is a small world. All are well worth the read, adding another layer to a very complex subject, You can also follow Affirmed Mom on Facebook.

Posted in Family, Gender

My Changeling

From the very beginning I called Kris my little changeling. There was always something about my middle child that was a mystery to me. Although some of the mystery has been solved, that feeling lingered even throughout his transition. And so it came as no real surprise when Kris texted me that he didn’t want people to think he changed his mind but he was actually non-binary or genderqueer.

Let’s hit the PAUSE button there for a minute—–

While my computer was having its own nervous breakdown, I tried to sort out my thoughts and figure out what I was feeling. Yeah, well, that’s not happening so what’s to follow is just me giving it to you raw and uncensored.

UNPAUSE—–

I haven’t done much research into the terms genderqueer and non-binary. While I know what they mean, I don’t feel like I know enough. Not when I have a child who identifies as one or both. It wasn’t a real surprise when Kris told me. As Kerri, he was never a die-hard girly-girl and as Kris he is definitely a unique individual who is not a typical young man. But let’s think about what I said. “Girly-girl” “Macho man” Those are extremes in both instances. And I can honestly say as a woman I do not embrace all things feminine. Growing up although I had all the average girl stuff my mom never dressed me in pink or rarely purple… Really! My other two sons, Michael and Andrew, while both male are as different as night and day. Kris fits right in the middle of them nicely. When he transitioned, there were parts of Kerri that just faded away and there were parts that stayed. Some of those might be things that are attributed more to girls than boys and while I noticed them, they were Kris. So no, this wasn’t news to me at all.

But then different thoughts popped into my head- and these weren’t new thoughts. They were things that peeked out from behind my everyday thoughts and I knew that I had been pushing them aside for months, maybe even the past year, now. For the past year Kris has been very erratic taking his testosterone. He had switched from shots to gel and had given various reasons. And as he has played cat and mouse with T these past few months (unknown to me), I’ve had instances where I was catching glimpses of Kerri. I have to admit it messed with my head more than just a little bit.

Was I imagining things? Did Kris look more feminine? (Not really) Was I really hoping deep down inside for Kerri to come back? Was Kris sending out mixed signals or was he changing his mind? Could I ask him? (NO) It was my imagination, right???

Then 2 weeks ago we went to the doctor and Kris asked that his level of testosterone be lowered. His doctor cautioned him that at such a low dose, it might trigger his period. Kris responded that it did not bother him.

And then the text.

I did tell Kris that I wanted to clarify a few points so I can explain it to a few people, who would want to know- like our very important closest people- his brothers, grandparents,….his dad. And for those other people (relatives) who might not say anything to him but will make comments to me….if they are speaking to me.

We have a starting point.

He prefers his full name and male pronouns. His gender is on the outer edges of male. While this is hard to explain, I do get what he’s saying.

I have to begin doing my homework on all things non-binary and genderqueer and how it all fits or doesn’t.

I know that as he lets his hair grow, he will confuse some people. He already does.

I’m ready.

Bring it on!

Posted in Family, Gender

Support and Ducks

“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”

When I shared the news of Kris coming out with friends, I was met with a variety of responses. I can honestly say that every single one was supportive. Although most people were shocked, they remained positive throughout the conversation.

I cannot say that all of these people remained that way.

There were some that disappeared overnight. I have not heard from them since.

There are others who were just a shade cooler the next time I saw them and they slowly drifted away……….

A few people lashed out at me- attacking me over something I did wrong (and in these instances every single attack was based on a perception- not on any actual wrong doing on my part- and it came out of nowhere- no warning signs in the least) and the only common denominator was that the attack occurred within a few weeks of finding out about Kris. I cannot prove that any of them had anything to do with Kris but in all cases, the people were quite irrational and refused to listen to any kind of reason or to accept my apology (for my non-wrongdoing.) Regardless, those relationships are over.

I don’t feel that these people are supportive- not of Kris, not of me, not of my family. They are ducks.

So, by those standards-

Looking like a duck

Swimming like a duck

Quacking like a duck

— when other people, say relatives, display the same behaviors……… what does that make them?

Posted in Family, Gender

Case Closed

Last week I wrote about a visit from Navy Seals recruiters at my door- “Is Miss Kerri Carpita Home?” and I wanted to do a follow up.

After a few days of debating how to proceed and whether to call their 888 number or the local recruiting center, I made the call. I do realize it wasn’t that big of a decision. I was upset and afraid of what I was going to find out or worse- not find out.

I called the local recruiting center and the person who answered the phone was very patient as I stumbled through my explanation that someone had come knocking on my door asking for my child by a name that hadn’t been used in over 3 years. I explained that my child had legally changed their name and I had concerns about why this house call was made.

He, (the kind man who I cannot remember his title, rank, name….), said that sometimes they did visit someone at home if they were unreachable by phone. When I expressed my fear that this might be a practical joke (and a not nice one at that), he offered to look into the matter and get back to me.

A half hour later, seconds before I walked into a meeting with the superintendent, he called back.

Their records indicated that they were using information from a college list that had been distributed in 2011 (the year Kris graduated from high school). He explained that the Navy is trying to recruit more women and that’s why they looked back that far into their lists. He said he would remove Kris’s old name from their records and apologized for the inconvenience.

I walked into my meeting, sat down, took one look at the superintendent and cried. Thank goodness he is a super cool awesome guy who I have a good relationship with. 🙂

I am relieved. With a few very tiny exceptions, the worse Kris has endured is being treated as if he ceases to exist. I didn’t want him to be facing worse and by someone he used to know.

Side note- Being treated as if he doesn’t exist is not acceptable either and I worry about the long term impact that could have on Kris. It’s why I no longer attend family functions on either sides of our relatives. Watching aunts, uncles and cousins ignore and avoid Kris makes me so angry I cannot see straight.

Have a good one!

Kat

Posted in 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