Link

Reading through a few new posts in WordPress this morning, I came across this one by Katelyn Pavey: 

Stupidity of a Protest – http://wp.me/p6MZjR-3o
She writes about the results of a church group’s attempt to ruin an Australian initiative – Same Sex Gender Diverse Formal.  I laughed all the way through.  It seems God overruled their bigoted attempts to control this event.  I love it! 

Tears of joy

I’m so teary eyed this morning, in my bubble there’s so much love and joy, but just outside it…
There’s a number of things jostling for position in my mind, foremost is the arrival of my beautiful niece 6 days ago. 

 Her mother (my youngest sister) and father estranged themselves, and their 2 year old son and daughter to be, from us shortly after we announced Izzy’s transition. 

 Here is an excerpt from their email letting us know they would no longer be part of our lives.  

It’s been three months since we’ve received this, and I hoped it would be recanted but it’s not and now I need to let that hope go by letting it out.

I:ve changed all the names.

Hi ***** and Harry

Thanks for coming back with answers to our questions.

I now want to share with you where ##### and I are at with everything.

We still have concerns around %%%% (Izzy’s birth name) age and whether this decision is appropriate. Our personal thoughts are that a decision such as this should only be able to be made by %%%%(Izzy’s birth name) at a time when he is able to truly understand its implications.  However you have made this decision for him and our concerns are for %%%% (Izzy’s birth name) and the possible mental impact that this might have should it not be the right approach. We are also concerned for Freddie around the mental impact of this as well.

We do not feel that the above is something that we can control as %%%%(Izzy:s birth name) is not our child and it seems that you have your minds made up.  You believe you have done the appropriate research and chosen the best solution for your child.  We could do the same amount of research and come out on the other side with the opposite approach.  Is your decision wrong because it doesn’t align with what we might do?  Not to you, as you truly believe it is the right approach.  While we can’t impact that, we are having a hard time accepting it because of our concerns.

What we can focus on is what we can control and this is around how we choose to let this decision impact our life and the lives of our family.  Our concern now is for @@@@ (their son) and for his sister.  This is not around being exposed to transgenderism, which we have nothing against, but around the risk of getting to know %%%% (Izzy’s birth name) as a girl where there may be a possibility that it may have not been the right approach and may result in %%%% (Izzy:s birth name) deciding to go back to being a boy down the track.  Our concerns are that this could be very confusing for our children should this happen.  As you want to do the right thing by your child, we want to do the right thing by ours.

Where we have concerns is that the approach we choose will impact our children’s lives.  If we decide to protect our children from the risk of exposing them to this situation and possible future reverting, it will no doubt impact much more than our relationship with %%%% (Izzy’s birth name) but with the entire family.  If we decide not to allow our children to see %%%% (Izzy’s birth name)as a girl until such time that we feel he is of an age where he can truly understand the decision and that our children are at ages where they can understand, then what does this mean for family get-togethers?  Will our children miss out on time with their Nana, aunties, uncles and other cousins as a result? Would it be right to go against what we feel is the right thing to do in order to smooth things over?  No, because we wouldn’t be putting our children first, in the same way that you are unlikely to change your approach as a result of the opinions of others. Is it fair that our children may have to miss out as a result of a decision that we seemingly have no influence over? No.

I need to reiterate that this is not about us disagreeing with people being transgender, it is around %%%%(Izzy’s birth name) age and our concern that in our view there has not been enough assessment of him prior to turning to this approach.

At this stage we don’t know what the answer is but what we do want you to be aware of is that there have been many sleepless nights, a lot of stress and worry for both %%%% (birth name) and for Freddie  They have been our primary concern.  However now, upon realising that your approach is not likely to change, our concern has turned to us looking at the impact on our own lives. We are now in a situation where there is conflict at home as we decide how we want to approach things going forward, and fear what losses may come as a result of our decision.  It is to the point that we are considering getting professional help in dealing with it.

I hope you see that all of this comes from a place of care.  If we didn’t care, there wouldn’t be sleepless nights, heated discussions, tears, worry, questions.

Please note that I have not included mum in this response as she has expressed her wishes not to be part of this discussion.

Love from xxxxx and ######.

 

Despite their deep concern for my children’s mental wellbeing they’ve checked on neither in three months, not directly, through me or through anyone else.

So, although the new baby is just 15 minutes away, I’ve not met her and I don’t know when I will.  This is a strange reality.

And finally, a message to my niece “If one day you read this, know that I loved you from the moment I heard you’d arrived. Know that no matter who you are, or who you become, you are loved.  You are beautiful and valued just the way you are.  Grow well, treat others with love and respect and never hide your light.”

Barbie, what happened to you?

Over the last three months (I can’t believe it’s only been that long since Izzy transitioned!) we’ve felt the joy of falling in love with our child all over again.  We’ve been privalaged to see her blossom, not over a number of years but over just a few months, and my how she’s blossomed.

I’ve always deeply loved my child, but Izzy J’adore.  She is magnificent.  She is just so full of love and joy, she lights up my life.

Before, she spent all her energy in expressing her unhappiness.  Now, that energy is free and it is expressed in the most beautiful ways.  Izzy LOVES flowers, she can spend an hour picking daisys, buttercups, clover in the park.  She inspects and appreciates every little beauty that mother nature produces.  Izzy wears flowers in her hair, as broaches on her clothes, she keeps vases filled with them on her bedside table.  Izzy LOVES pink, her room was always filled, by her, with anything pink she could find and now more so.  Izzy is kind and nurturing.  She has a huge capacity for empathy.

Izzy loves to sing.  She sings to herself, playing in her bedroom, walking to the car, trotting to drop Freddie off at school, picking flowers in the playground, building castles on the beach.  She loves to help.  She helps in the kitchen and in the garden.  Today Izzy called me “Mum, Mum!  You have to see this”.  She’d figured out how to put the hand towel back on the bathroom rail.  Perfectly.

Izzy has these brilliant ideas.  She’ll take a broken hairclip and turn it in to a piece of beautiful jewelry.  She’ll accessorise her tutu with a bowtie, another day she’ll use it as a headband.  She adds detailing to her clothes using stick on gems.  She makes clothes for Barbie, from an old shuttlecock, a floral tissue, playdoh.

Izzy is intelligent.  She poses surprising questions and makes wise statements.  Izzy loves to climb trees, she loves to jump from higher and higher places.  She pushes herself to conquer the things that pose her a challenge.  Izzy has a beautiful laugh, and a great sense of humour.

Everyday I’m thankful that this child was born to Harry and I, were she’s loved, nurtured and affirmed as being her and I whisper a prayer in my heart, for the children who are not.

Banging around

The other night I was lying in bed next to Izzy reading her bedtime stories.  She’d picked some old favourites we hadn’t read for a while and when we came to a badly torn page she said “Mum why is that torn?”  Now Izzy went through a very long stage where she tore every book we read.  “Well, when you were little you used to tear pages.” “Why?”  she asked.  “Well, I don’t really know.  Maybe you were feeling annoyed.”  Izzy said :”Like annoyed that you used to think I was a boy?”  “Mmmmmm, maybe.  But you don’t do that anymore, and we know you’re a girl.” I answered.  Then Izzy started giggling, “Mum, can I tell you something?  Freddie told me I can have an operation where they tuck my penis up inside me!  Is that true?”  I have to laugh, she’s giggling away herself.  “Well, yeah, but it’s an operation for adults, you know like cousin B’s age.” Izzy is cracking up “Mum I’m not getting that done! Well mum, I do want to, but I keep thinking about it banging around in my tummy when I run!”

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, a true LOL moment.

Marriage

Freddie to his cousin “It’s tragic, Izzy wants to marry me, but it’s not going to happen because I want children and Izzy can’t have them.”

Cousin “Ohhhh.”

Freddie “She can adopt of course.”

Cousin “Mmmm”

The hidden

I’ve written this post, or one just like it, several times since starting my blog.  But each time hit delete instead of publish.  Not wanting to expose him, us.  But I know that other people out there must be experiencing the same things and I’m not doing us or them any favours by hiding the truth away.  I feel ashamed, but I shouldn’t.  These are the cards, the kids we’ve been dealt and we’re raising them with love and as much grace as we can muster.  I’m sharing this because there are many difficulties people hide, hardships they don’t reveal, problems they don’t share and I am guilty of overlooking them or dismissing them.  

We’re sitting in the car headed to a beautiful beach.  It’s 930am.  Harry has just commented “That’s the hardest morning I’ve ever known”.  Harry, you lucky bugger!  This morning was yuck, but many days start this way – it’s just that Harry gets to leave for work each day.

Sometimes I want to scream, slam a door, throw a vase at the wall. Sometimes I want to walk away, escape, climb into a small dark cupboard and rock myself to some peace.  Today I wanted to drive my car in to a brick wall.  Just to make it stop. But of course I didn’t.  I wouldn’t.  I can’t.  So instead I am in the car, kids in the back, headed to the beach. 

Freddie is my first born, I love him with all my heart but I struggle to maintain my sanity with him in my life.  That sounds horrible, and the reality is horrible to admit.  My son is seven.  He has a wonderful mind.  He has love in his heart.  My son struggles processing the world he lives in, his senses quickly and often go into overload.  Izzy’s voice is too loud, his cup of water smells horrible, his jumper is scratchy, the sun is too bright, the wind too strong, the sand too sandy, jeans are uncomfortable, the kids at kindy drop off move too fast, his classroom too noisy, too many people in Kapa Haka, people look at him too much, talk to him too much….

Freddie doesn’t recognise his body’s cues, he often refuses to eat and drink.  He doesn’t take his fleece off when he’s hot or put it on when he’s cold.  Not surprisingly, Freddie has low energy and poor muscle tone.  He could spend days in bed listening to Famous Five audiobooks.

These difficulties lead him to lash out.  When he reaches overload, which as I said can happen quickly and sometimes unexpectedly, he explodes.  He yells at us, hits us, throws things, slams doors.

It is freaking stressful living with this child.  We live tiptoeing between one outburst and another.  And we live with the guilt.  Guilt of wanting to be free of the constant stress and anxiety.

We try really hard, and we will always try hard, but the effort is taking it’s toll.  On all of us.

Next month Freddie will be assessed for Aspergers.  I can almost taste the clarity that will come if he is diagnosed with it. To be able to say to ourselves “It’s not us.  We’re not crap parents”.  To know, without doubt, that he is not an arse of a kid – that his behaviour is not a choice and it’s not just his “personality”.  Our kid is all of the things above but he is also glorious, brilliant, funny, kind hearted and interesting to be around.  He’s so loved.  

Some see diagnosis an undesirable label, I set it as a saviour, something that has the power to set us free.  Freddie is becoming more self aware, he’s starting to recognise his rage as something “other” and it frightens him.

We have to be our children’s strongest allies, their greatest advocates – my son can’t be “cured” but he can be understood and just like his sister, accepted as his own unique self.

Life in The Bubble

The last “upset” has blown on through, and I’m once again feeling calm, content and thoroughly within The Bubble.  The Bubble, that’s the place we’re in now.

The Bubble is safe.  The Bubble is a place of acceptance.  It’s happiness.  The Bubble is the people around us.  The smiles, the hugs, the family and the friends.  The Bubble is Kindy.  It’s swimming.  It’s OT.  The Bubble surrounds us at school pick-up and drop-off.  The Bubble is present when we meet new friends.  The Bubble is great!

In the Bubble there’s no Transgender. There’s no dysphoria.  There’s no worries about what the future might hold.

I love The Bubble, but The Bubble can’t stay.  It’s not a permanent structure.  It’s a bubble.

The Bubble is a gift.  It gives us the time to grow, in knowledge and most importantly in strength.  It shows us who we are, who we have the potential to be.  These days are appreciated, they’re experienced, then filed under Happiness.  These days will give us a solid base for the future.  These days in The Bubble, they’re heavy with love and support.  These days in The Bubble are wonderful.

I know The Bubble can’t stay.  That’s OK.

Guest Blog: From then to now

Izzy’s teacher, Dani, shares her thoughts on Izzy’s transition.  

“Back in late 2015 when I was in my final year at university I was introduced to a great little “boy”.  In 2016 I was lucky enough to step into a full time position at the same preschool.  This was when I got to know the children and understand their very different personalities.  It was within the first few months I began to understand the children’s “hidden treasures”, the glimpses of light that shone within each child.  Some of these glimpses were stronger within some children than others.  

One day I sat down for story time when I heard a statement from a young boy “Will you have a girl or boy party?”  (pre Izzy replied) “One day I’ll be a girl” from here I developed a closer awareness of the mindset and acceptance of each child.  Why? Because the child that asked “will you have a girl or boy party?” did not judge.  He did not change the style of friendship, for him it didn’t matter if “he” was a girl at heart.  After talking to my manager, team and of course her mother I was lucky enough to be a part of this amazing transition. 

In July 2016 I was lucky to be the outside teacher where I could welcome Izzy as her true self.  When Izzy took her first step in the gate we could see the sparkle in her eye, when we said “Good Morning Izzy” and she was full of excitement, love and inner joy shining throughout her body.  Izzy was able to walk through her learning environment the way she had been dreaming of.  Izzy would no longer be referred to as a boy with a male name, but a girl with a name that held a special meaning to her.  

From this day on I was able to understand who Izzy really was.  She no longer wears the pink or purple dress ups that allowed her to be a princess, she was able to wear the lime green one that her friend (a boy) gave her to wear.  I ask why?  Is this because Izzy is happy who she now is and does not feel the need “to dress up” to become a girl.  She is now a girl, wearing girl clothes, with a girl’s name.  ‘Izzy is now Izzy’.  While at times Izzy might struggle with her communication she now knows that she is being heard and listen to.  Izzy loves to engage in family play where she will take on the roles of the mother or sister rather than a male role that used to do. 

At times we were unsure how to address the transition, or process, as we were unsure on how do we protect Izzy?  How would we allow Izzy to be Izzy?  Or how do we address the change in gender when questions arise from parents or children?  Overall I have been amazed with how accepting the pre-school community was with this process.  While questions were asked, they were mostly about her name being changed, and what name should they use, along with “What can we do to help her transition”.  Without hesitance the parents walked in and continue to say hello to Izzy. 

Months on, we notice that Izzy has gone through a variety of different feelings and emotion.  While Izzy is glowing and feeling more comfortable and confident in her own skin I could see there was times when she felt uncertain and didn’t know how to communicate with others.  However through these uncertain periods Izzy has become more mindful and understanding of other children allowing for friendships to widen and grow. 

Overall, as Izzy’s teacher, I am honored to be a part of her journey.  I look forward to seeing her grow and develop into the girl she dreams of becoming. ”

Dani