Tag: gender

To Be a Guy

bw converse shoes

Fandango, over at This, That, and The Other posted the first of what I hope will be a continuing challenge of provocative questions.

“If you could be the opposite sex for one day, what would you do?”

As you may or may not know, I have a gender fluid child. That being said, this question really is provocative to me because it strikes a chord. Over the past seven years, I’ve had time to think about gender and what it means on so many different levels. Accepting that my middle child’s gender identity fluctuates and isn’t always 100% aligned with the female body she was given has been a learning process for me. I always thought gender was set in stone and you were either a girl or a boy. Now I know that is not the case.

This isn’t going to be a post debating thoughts on gender and a person’s gender identity. But I am applying my experience to my response.

I’m a girl. Plain and simple. Whether I’m dressed and made up or wearing my favorite jeans, hoodie and Converse, I’m always a girl. SO- if I was to wake up one day and I was a guy? Well, I would freak out! The thought of having all that HAIR and guy appendages just makes me shudder. Those things are fine on the guys I know but I sure don’t want them. And you can charge me with gender bias but those things I’ve grown (and been raised) to expect guys to do, I don’t want to do. I have no doubt that I could do them. What are those things to which I refer? I’m not even sure. Maybe the car stuff and some house maintenance….. I would just prefer not to do them. If I was a guy, would I also be relinquishing my responsibilities? But then, who would be doing them? How would they get done. Let me guess- they would be waiting for me (kids in crisis and all that fun) when I turned back into me, right?

Am I overthinking it? Since it’s me, probably.

But the bra…… I definitely would not miss the bra!

Fandango’s Provocative Question #1

Happy Friday!

-Kat

Just Like You

When you meet me and my family, I’m asking you a favor. Keep an open mind. We are your average family…..or as average as anyone can be these days.

I’m married to the father of my three children. We have lived in the same house for the past 20 years. My oldest child is married and has two children and my other two are in college. Growing up my kids were involved in Scouts, band, karate and other various activities. We took annual family vacations and trips to the zoo and museums. I was a Scout leader, PTO and booster mom. Over the years we had fish, birds and a dog as pets.

Two of my kids have freckles. Two are left-handed. All three play musical instruments. Three loved Pokemon growing up. Two have been avid Star Wars fans. One paints. Two are natural comedians. All three are creative although by different degrees- creativity drives one, the other channels his creativity into his life’s passion and the last keeps his in check, allowing it to appear in little bursts. One is an extrovert and two are introverts. Two of my kids look just like me. They all have different color hair and eyes. One has curly hair and the other two have straight hair. Two are boys and one is transgender (see below for definition).

I worried about one child who struggled with reading. Two of them broke bones before they were three years old. One needed stitches at the age of 12. They all had strep throat more than once and pink eye only once (thank goodness!). Two had scarlet fever. They all had chicken pox.

——-Wait- what? (remember that open mind I asked you to keep?)

Until that second that you read that word, we seem like a pretty normal family, right? Nowadays our family has grown to include a daughter-in-law and two small boys. We might be a bit noisier or take up an entire aisle at the grocery store at times. You probably passed us at Target or sat a table away from us when we are at a restaurant. You stood behind us in line for hours waiting to get on the “It’s a Small World” ride in the Magic Kingdom. We might have exchanged pleasantries at school events or shared hellos as we passed each other while walking our dogs.

I worry about my kids when they are struggling, even though they are all technically adults. I love them unconditionally and will always do whatever I can to help them- whether it means giving them a hand or a swift kick in the butt. I want them to have happy, productive lives and be kind, caring people.

We could be anybody. We ARE anybody.

So, the next time you see us and maybe your knee jerk reaction is to look the other way as we pass, I’m asking you to please keep an open mind and remember we are still the same people we were before you heard that one word. We are just like you.

sep 001shoes3

Transgender– when a person’s gender identity or gender expression differs from their assigned sex or what is considered normal for male or female genders.

This post is in response to The Daily Post Discover Challenge- Open-Minded.

 

 

Gender Bender

Gender Bender

I recently shared that my middle child, Kris, told me that he is genderqueer or nonbinary. After some research and many conversations, we know that he definitely does not fit in the traditional gender binary. He has decided to go with genderqueer. To be honest, depending on the source there seems to be little difference between genderqueer, nonbinary and gender non-conforming. Every time I think I might have a handle on it, I read something that shakes it all up and it’s back to the drawing board for me!

kris
This is how Kris explains his gender identity.

Does it matter which term applies? Not in the least. Just the entire notion of Kris having unique gender expression is more in keeping with the child I raised. I love him and will support him and it doesn’t matter where he lands under the transgender umbrella.

My questioning and researching is more of a “Mom” thing for me. When I found out I had a colorblind child, I went to the library and learned all that I could. Two of my children were identified as gifted and talented so I jumped in with both feet, educating myself on ways I could help them succeed. And so, Kris throwing out new terms and a new concept to wrap my head around has me running to the internet and googling “genderqueer vs. nonbinary”. I want to understand what Kris is feeling. This kid has been such an enigma!!

In my research travels through the internet I came across terms that I have been hearing for awhile now. I was familiar with most but when genderqueer came up on my radar, you can bet I paused to take a closer look. I stumbled onto this video by Ashley Wylde, whose gender identity/expression is genderqueer. I love how Ashley expresses gender expression. 🙂

We are conditioned to check a box (as Ashley describes it) throughout our lives and that’s difficult to undo. People like everything to fit into a neat little package that they recognize and the minute something doesn’t match up with the ideal that they have been conditioned to expect, it rocks their boat a bit.

I realize that there will be people who will be uncomfortable at Kris’s appearance. He is a guy who might be wearing leggings or have a shawl draped over his shoulder. The funny thing is that now that Kris is expressing himself differently, I do feel more of a connection between Kris at 22 and that little kid who insisted on being called Peter Pan at 2 and wore leggings pushed up over the knees at 4 and insisted on wearing Michael’s outgrown winter coat at 7.

Am I any closer to understanding my child? I think so. I know that he will be pushing the gender binary by expressing himself in a more feminine way at times. He describes himself as a guy who likes girl stuff. Works for me! More than anything, I want him to be happy with himself and able to live in this world accepted by all and supported by those who should.

I don’t think that’s asking too much. It’s a shame that there are so many out there that think that it is.

Someday

Someday

I came across this in my Facebook newsfeed and wanted to share it. This is just a quick drop in while I’m working on a few other posts which will appear down the line.

Watch These Trans Teens Talking To Their Grown-Up Selves And Try Not To Cry

When I’m faced with a title that challenges me “not to cry”- I’m always a bit miffed. My first thought is ‘Don’t tell me what or what not to do!’ Then I move on to ‘This better be as good or bad as billed.’ Can you tell that I’m getting tired of the sensationalistic titles that fill my Facebook newsfeed?

But this one was different. The title caught my eye. I wanted to see other trans kids. My own child is 22 and he will argue the point that he is NOT a child but that remains to be seen.

So I watched. And I cried. Any and all of those kids could have been mine. These kids are beautiful and amazing and I wish them all the best!

All they want is to live their lives as their authentic selves and to be accepted. They aren’t asking to be the class president or to be the most popular—- they just want to BE.

It’s so simple and yet so hard to achieve. I feel that since my middle child first came out 4 years ago and we got dropped into Transgender Wonderland that baby steps have been made. We need more of these- many more and bigger ones- so that we can quickly reach a day where the kids on the video have lived to be that adult self they spoke to and so transgender people don’t have to give themselves advice and pep talks to get to a better place.

Someday. Hopefully someday really soon!

Take care

-Kat

What Could You Do?

What Could You Do?

If I was to turn back the clock 3-1/2 years and give advice to someone on how to support my transgender son, here is what I would say-

1. Call him by his preferred name. Do not ask him to use his old name EVER just because it makes you feel more comfortable- regardless of the situation. By refusing to use his name, you are sending a strong message that you do not accept him as who he really is.

2. Use his preferred pronouns. It is a serious lack of respect to misgender him. And use those pronouns ALWAYS- even when you are not with him. You are invalidating his existence by referring to him by the wrong pronouns even when not in his presence. You are telling others that you are not taking him seriously. Once again, you are not showing acceptance.

3. Continue to love him. If your love was truly unconditional before he came out, it still exists. He is still the same kid you loved before.

love

4. If I’m telling you about him, accept that he asked me to talk to you. The “coming out” talk can be emotionally draining and stressful. It is scary. He does not know if the person hearing his news will be accepting or not. The information is no less valid if given by me instead of him.

5. Let him know he is loved, accepted and supported. Let him know this over and over again. When people first find out this news, everyone reacts differently. BUT everyone offers words of support regardless of how they might feel. Many don’t know how they actually feel and those words of support fade away if they are feeling uneasy or well…..not supportive once they actually give it all some thought. IT SHOWS. The people who really do want to support SHOW UP. They don’t make excuses. They don’t disappear. The ones who want to be there are THERE.

6. While he is transitioning, the entire family is going to be going through its own transition process. Our transition will be very different from his. Moms, Dads, brothers and sisters might need that extra hug or kind word, too. People will be more prone to express their less than positive feelings and views to us, rather than him. Please be mindful of this.

acceptance

7. If he is quiet or unresponsive, it’s not because he doesn’t hear you or want to hear you. It’s probably because he’s unsure if you are really there or not. Remember, there are many people who said the exact same things you are saying and now they are gone. He might need some coaxing. Actions speak louder than words.

8. Educate yourself but remember, every trans person’s experience is different. There is no right or wrong way to be transgender. Don’t assume you are an authority because you read an article. Talk to him about it but be respectful. Or don’t talk to him about it but TALK TO HIM.

9. Whatever he is doing to change his outward appearance, this is nothing compared to what’s going on inside him. He is feeling A LOT. The result of this might be that he appears to be unresponsive at times. Please understand that he spent years stifling emotions, responses and more in an effort to present himself as someone he felt was more acceptable. He might have a lot to work out for himself.

10. Give him a break. He’s going through a lot. He is showing his true self to the world. He is raw and vulnerable and he needs to know that nothing has changed. That whatever he shows you is okay. But to show him that it’s okay, you really do need to show it. Empty words will have a big, hollow sound to them but actions will come through loud and clear.

support

11. If you screw up, acknowledge it and move on. It’s natural to mix up pronouns or a name at first but with practice, it becomes habit. And there might be times where you say something before thinking and then realize it wasn’t right- just apologize.

12. Trans or not, he is still a person. He has feelings. He wants to know that his family loves him. He wants to believe that love is unconditional.

Yes, this is what I would say if I could turn back the clock 3-1/2 years. Now that I re-read this, I realize that this IS what I said. And if you read this and you have been doing these things all along.

THANK YOU!