Life with a transgender child

Simply months ago, a new blogging friend asked me if I would consider writing a guest post for her blog – Thatswhatlynnsaid  I leapt at the chance, being a follower and fan of Lynn’s writing – she advocates for transgender people, and writes straight from her big, warm, heart.  Being me, I’ve only just got it finished!

It would be awesome if you scooted over to check it out, and while you’re there – read some of Lynn’s other posts like They’re Not Just Numbers where she writes about the homeless and you’ll figure out why I like her.

Lynn has also written a book Who Am I If You’re Not You? Loves journey beyond gender, you can read all about it here.

Lizzie Marvelly: Our toilets are the new battleground

It’s good to be in an empty house, sitting with a cup of tea when you read these sorts of articles.

That’s where I am now.  It’s 11am on a beautiful Saturday morning.

My home has been alive with constant chatter and creative energy, since 630am.  Izzy has watched 45 mins of her favourite YouTube show – CookieSwirlC, eaten breakfast, created an amazing house on wheels out of Duplo, reorganised her bedroom, dressed twice, had her nails done by Harry and filled in the rest of the time with hugs and kisses.  Freddie started the day with a rare cuddle, returned to bed to study his atlas, watched YouTube videos of Mt Ruapehu erupting, searched for his walkie talkies, designed a birthday flyer for Esme, got dressed in clothes best suited for winter, redressed in something similar but less fleece, and assembled his volcanologist kit.  Harry has been out to do the grocery shopping, I’ve baked cookies, packed lunches and filled the ice block molds in between responding to requests for help from the two creative geniuses that have the run of our home.

This is a NORMAL family!  These are normal things that happen in our family.  Then I sit down and read this in the paper and I think how the abnormal lurks just on the fringe of our society.  How the abnormal seem to have so much time on their hands beats me?  How do people have the time, between doing all this normal family shit, that surely can’t just be going on in my home, to be soooo concerned about other people’s PRIVATE business of where they go for a wee???

And I realised, this is the crap (you guys in the states are dealing with this big time I know) we need to look out for.  To YOU family, to You friends, to you other mum’s at school, at kindy, to you who support and accept Izzy, please read this article from the NZ Herald.

Let it sink in.

Think about what it means and decide, now, which side of the line you stand.  Because you who support Izzy, loud and proud or quietly and from a distance – you are her allies and by extension you are allies to transgender kids everywhere.  I ask that if you hear this fear mongering, this hate talk, this BS, SPEAK UP!  Tell the person as politely as you can, that you don’t agree with them.  Be calm, be fierce, be whatever, but please don’t be silent.

Somewhere between the broken soap dispenser, the constantly dripping tap and the hand drier that hasn’t worked in about 20 years, it appears that you’ll now find conservative lobby group Family First lurking in the background to ensure each girl who pops in for a wee between classes has the type of genitalia up her skirt that Family First deems appropriate.

Click here to read the rest of the article from NZ Herald

Being brave

(This is a week old, I must have got distracted!). 

I was planning on writing a follow up to my last (brief) post, but there’s something else on my mind, some other words that need to get out.

Today someone did something really lovely for me.  Another mum turned to me in assembly, took a deep breath, and blurted out something she’d been debating whether to say or not.  She wanted to know if she could do this lovely thing for me, but, understandably as we don’t yet know each other really well, she wasn’t sure how I would receive this offer.  Would I be insulted?  Embarrassed?  Horrified?  Clearly I was thrilled and am enjoying the spoils of her thoughtfulness as I type.  

Be brave.  If you have good thoughts act on them.  If you hear of someone in need help them.  If you see someone having a rough day – go bake those cookies, wrap them up and brighten up that persons day.  There is something very special about the connection made when someone does something for you selflessly.

Thank you “someone”, you know who you are. X

Why I’m embracing the bow tie

It’s our third day back at school.  I have precisely 14 minutes before it’s time to up sticks and leave to pick Freddie up.

It’s our third day back at school.  The third day of Freddie wearing a skirt to school.  Let me stop ya right here…Freddie is not my transgender child.  That’s Izzy.  Izzy is transgender.  Freddie is, well, Freddie is Freddie and Freddie does what feels good for Freddie.  And what feels good right now – is wearing a skirt.

Freddie wears his skirts long and flowing.  He wears his skirts (one belongs to Izzy, one is from the dress up box, and one is a donation from my wardrobe which my mum took in for him during the hols) with one of several long sleeved shirts.  He wears his shirts buttoned up to the collar.  He wears his collar with either a bow tie or a regular tie.  Freddie chooses striped socks pulled up and black dress shoes we bought him for my sisters wedding.  On top of this he wears a long blue wizard like dressing gown.  Hooded.  He is utterly and totally happy.

I can see that people are wondering, what the F is going on here?  First the little one and now the big one?  Where did they spend the holidays – some kind of re-gendering camp?  Let me ease your minds.  When Freddie was almost three we lived with his Nana, Freddie adores his Nana and very much enjoyed dressing up in her high heels and “borrowing” her t-shirts to wear as dresses.  There was “peachy” and “stripy”, two tops I remember well.  He’s always been happy to slip in to a dress/skirt/heels…  At kindergartens he wore nail polish and drew a little following of boys who also came with their nails done.

Freddie is a boy who has the confidence and the inclination to wear attire that is considered feminine.  Freddie has been brought up hearing “It isn’t what’s on the outside that counts, it’s what’s on the inside”, “Do we judge people for the way we look?  No, that’s silly.  We judge people on how they act”.

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder waiting for some love, and hear it is three weeks later.  Freddie is still wearing skirts and shirts, but we seem to have misplaced the tie!  Here’s what I’ve learnt – kids are really, really accepting.  With the exception of the very few who have something unkind to say to almost everyone smaller than them, NO ONE CARES that Freddie is wearing a dress.   As far as I can see, they just see Freddie.  It’s just another little character trait that makes up one of their school mates.

I find it interesting, because even my mum, who as I’ve said before is 100% supportive and loving, finds it difficult not to encourage Freddie to wear more “ordinary” clothes to school.  It’s intriguing is it not?  It was only in the early 20th century that woman began to wear trousers, even then it was frowned upon – but before that, just not accepted, any way or any form.  Is it not just the same now – why shouldn’t men be able to wear skirts or dresses?  In many countries men wear dresses – right?  So it’s just cultural and cultures evolve over time.  I LOVE that my kid walks his own path.  

I honestly never imagined motherhood would be such a period of evolution – the person my children have made me, is not the one who stood before.

Duty calls

Tomorrow I’m hitching a ride with Freddie’s school Principal, and sitting in on a meeting between her and another primary principal.  He’s a friend of hers who also has/had (?) a transgender kid in his school.  

School days are beginning to feel real!  

Autism Lives in This House 

A few weeks back I was feeling quite down, I read this Mum’s post  on her blog Our Trip To The Moon here at WordPress,  and felt a little less alone and a whole lot less of a failure.  To read the full post, and I highly recommend you do, Click here

The additional stress that raising a child with autism poses on a parent is immense. It feels like a weight that you carry around with you most days. Some days it is like a small rock in your pocket. The additional weight isn’t much but it reminds you that it is there as you reach your hand in and run your fingers back and forth over the smooth and rough edges. Other days it feels like you have a heavy sac thrown over your shoulder. It feels like you might crumble beneath the weight. This weight becomes more than a physical burden. It is a burden to your mind as you are constantly in a deep thought process. It can be anything from making sure that the schedule and routines of the day are in place. You worry about tomorrow and what triggers might set your child off. You worry about next week when you know their teacher is going to be away and wonder how they will cope with that change. You worry about everything that you do and everything that you don’t do. You worry if it’s enough. You worry about what their life will look like after 18 years. Will everything that you are doing today and tomorrow prepare them for the future?

Video

When you feel the love

I dunno if it’s just the medication, lol, but I have been FEELING THE LOVE lately!

On Sunday Harry took the kids down to our local volcano (ah yeah!  You read that right, we have a local volcano) for a pre-beach walk.  Now when my kids go out they kinda like to dress like they’re going to a Halloween party, that’s just their thing.  So Izzy had on a princess dress we bought last week for $2 in a garage sale.  Freddie wore an old skirt of mine that mum took in for him (this is sounding familiar???  I might have mentioned Freddie’s skirt in a previous post, but I’m already juggling dinner prep standing at the kitchen bench banging this out, while the kids have their allotted time of Sophia the First, so I daren’t waste a minute browsing my old posts for a sneaky link), a pink dress shirt, bow tie (silver) and a hooded dressing gown in wizard blue.  They were looking all kinds of spesh walking along the road.  So anyway this big ol’, very desirable, four wheel drive pulled up next to them, the window lowered to reveal a couple looking admiringly at the kids.  Apparently our kids “charmed”them.  Our kids?  And they explained that they were getting ready to move to the country and in cleaning out their attic discovered a huge pile of dress ups that once belonged to their daughters, now teenaged, and would we like to have them?  Strangers!  Never met them before!  So Izzy and I went round yesterday after kindy and wow!  Walked away with a wonderful pile of amazing outfits.  Felt the love man!

Then, in anticipation of the first day of school, I emailed Freddie’s new teacher letting her know about the autism and giftedness and also that Freddie may well rock up to school in a skirt (he did) and bow tie (he didn’t, choose an old work tie of Harry’s, which I’m sure dates back to the late 90’s).  Well, she came right back to me with the love.  Primary school is a wonderful, safe environment for children to express themselves through their clothing she wrote, she shared a personal story that made me just feel like – yup, we’re in good hands.  And I say we because to me our school is much more than a place to drop my kid off for learning, it’s a place that nourishes them, that reaches out to involve the family and whanau (extended family) and nourishes them too.  

Each year I get better at shaking off that feeling.  That feeling of not wanting to stand out.  Not wanting to be a parent that is overbearing, overwhelming and over involved.  Each year I have to consciously tell myself that this is just a feeling.  That it’s ok and welcomed to bring issues up with the school, it’s ok and welcomed to ask to be heard.  It’s good to make your presence known.  I find it hard to do that, but the rewards when you do step out of your comfort zone are enormous.  Or they have been in my experience anyway.  So totally felt the love with Freddie’s new teacher.

Got a whole lotta love walking in to kindy today!  Witnessing Val and each of the teachers greeting Izzy filled me up with peace, joy and happiness.  I mean, you couldn’t ask for warmer more sincere greetings.  And seeing Izzy’s head held high, exuding self confindence as she walked through those gates presented me with a moment to love not only her, and Val, and the teachers, but myself.  Myself for being her mum and being part of the group of people who surround her that have brought this self confindence back in to her life.  We’ve worked hard since Izzy’s transition, to bring about this very moment.  This moment when she arrives with head held high.  I really felt it today.

Then there’s the big old serve of love in a quick catch up chat with Freddie’s old teacher.  You couldn’t find a person with more love to give.  Seriously!  This teacher has her kids names inked up on the window (I’m assuming she’s totally used washable marker cause she’s a mum and a teacher and pretty smart), and I was having a nosy over her shoulder while we chatted, wondering which little gems she has in there this year.  I spotted two or three names, and that’s when the love hit – these kids are going to get the love and care my kid got from her last year, she is just the teacher they need and shucks, it’s such a good feeling when you see kids getting what they need right?  So that was a big old love up right there.

Then there was the text from Lou.  Lou of the unflappable (u can read about her here in a post I wrote way back called Unflappable).  She said her son thought Freddie’s tie was cool.  Love.

All that is needed to top this love fest off is a glass of wine!

A day to remember

Today is a day to remember.  It’s a completely ordinary day, rain has finally arrived and is washing away the dust from our camping trip.  It’s ordinary yet extraordinary.  Today we exercise the right to change our daughter’s name, another step along her journey.  This is perhaps one of the easiest step so far, fill out the paperwork, get a jp to witness that we are who we say we are, and pop the form in the post with payment of $127 plus $26.50 for a copy of her new certificate.