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.

Coming up soon

Just a few more weeks of the summer hols, bittersweet days of needing a break from the kids but wanting to hold tight to every moment spent with them before we return to the routine of school and kindy.

Over the hols we’ve spent a lot of time at our local beaches, we’re superbly blessed in terms of choice, white(ish) sand, clear(on good days) water and gentle(if any)waves.  

This year the kids both have water confidence and no longer require an adults hand to grip on to as they play in the shallows.  

Last summer visits to the beach often ended in Freddie having a meltdown – too hot, too windy, too sandy… but this year he’s really pulled himself together and has become a very keen boogie boarder, as has Izzy.

Thinking ahead to those hot and humid February/March days I’ve been filling the kid’s heads with plans to make Beach Time part of our school/kindy day, every day that I can.  For me that means pre-preparing dinner (big ask, but possible as I’ve not got many commitments this term) and bringing afternoon tea when I go to pick them up, we can go straight to the beach from school.  I’ve talked about it almost every sunny day and Freddie has started to incorporate it on to his reality and THAT is a win! NB Freddie was diagnosed in December with Autism, High Functioning. He’s also Gifted.  Getting this idea into Freddie’s mindset is essential to it being a success.  And getting physical activity into both the kids daily routine is essential not only to their well being but to my mental wellbeing.

I’m excited about this year, Izzy will be starting school, beginning of second term.  We’ve got a meeting coming up at school to discuss how they can make school a safe and nurturing environment for our daughter, their very first affirmed transgender child.  We’ve got teacher interview coming up to meet Freddie’s new teacher (I know her as I’ve teacher aided in her class and am looking forward to seeing how Freddie might flourish under her care.  I have to mention I’m REALLY sad to leave our beautiful teacher from last year behind, I may have to volunteer in her class this year to soak up some of the awesomeness!)

Next week while Harry is off we’ll get the documents witnessed and sent off to change Izzy’s name on her birth cert.  Originally I wanted to get both name and gender changed but I’ve since learnt this involves Family Court and I believe is unprecedented in NZ to date.  So instead we’ll change her name and then apply for a NZ passport which allows for affirmed gender, we have a letter from Izzy’s doc to support our application. Last week the hospital changed her name and gender marker and that’s now changed with our GP too.  Izzy will be registered at school under her new name and gender.  All of these things, and of course the fact she has socially transitioned, will support our day in court, when that day comes.

Disappointing news is that I don’t have a guaranteed job at school this term – really sad about that, so keep your fingers crossed something will turn up.  I really want to be working at my kids school, not just because my kids are there but because I whole heartedly identify with and support the school’s ethos of inclusivity.  I’m also a little attached to some of the kids!

Well, that’s enough for now – Harry and the kids are due back any minute and then it’s toast, “pudds” and bed.  We’re in the final chapters of The Horse and His Boy, and although I’ve read it numerous times before I’m really looking forward reliving the end of the story.

Hatching

Lying in bed with Izzy tonight, post four chapters of Noddy (Geez Noddy real depends on Big Ears to solve his problems!), Izzy said “can we chat for a while mum?”  I’m REALLY tired at the moment, school hols are awesome but freaking exhausting, so I said “Yup, as long as I can chat with my eyes shut” Izzy’s chatter in bold:

Mum, where do seeds come from?”  Even as I started down the path of plants and seed pods I knew I was in for it…”Mmmm, yes, I know about seed pods but Mum if seeds come from plants and plants grow from seeds then how did the first plant grow?” Errrrrr?????

“Mum, what’s in my balls?” “Nothing at the mo, when you’re older if you thought you were actually a boy and you went through puberty you’d get sperm” “Oh, no I’m a girl”

Question two “Mum, do I have eggs?”  Sigh “No my sweet, you’ve not got your ovaries so you can’t have eggs” “Can I get ovaries?” “No☹️”  “So Mum, I won’t hatch a baby then will I?” “Not from your tummy, no” “Mum I think that’s really sad” “It is, you’re right.” “It’s ok Mum. Some girls with ovaries don’t have eggs and some girls with eggs can’t have babies.” 

Oh how I love this girl.

Trans on TV 

I love it when something opens your eyes just a little wider – came across this article on ETCanada about trans characters (just a few trans actors I know, but still…) on TV starting in the 70’s.

As early as the 1970s, transgender characters have appeared in TV dramas and comedies. From ‘All in the Family’ to ‘Family Guy’ to ‘Transparent’, here are 21 transgender characters that shaped television viewers’ perceptions.

And I’ll add to that list – here in NZ we have a transgender actor playing a trans character on the soap Shortland Street 😁. 

Click on the link below to see the full list http://etcanada.com/photos/113119/trans-on-tv/#image-108830

Binge watching

I’m binge watching my way through three seasons of the hit show Transparent. Thanks C!!! 

Have you seen it?  This is a really good show, each episode makes me feel a slightly different way about the characters – they’re all so complex and so very human. 

Last night I watched the last four episodes of Season One, the references to the LGBT scene in pre-nazi Germany had me intrigued – was there any historical basis to this plot line?

Many of the scenes of Berlin take place in or around the Institute of Sex Research. The Institute, run by Magnus Hirschfeld–who is also featured throughout the season–was a real thing in Germany from 1919 to 1933

Click below to read more

https://www.google.co.nz/amp/s/milk.xyz/articles/a-guide-to-transparent-season-twos-historical-lgbt-plotline/amp/?client=safari

A fortunate life

I’ve led a very fortunate life, the older I get the more I’ve become aware of just how fortunate.   When I look back at all the hardships and the struggles (and there’s been a few Grade A struggles I promise you!) what I see is this long line of people who have offered me hope, support and mentoring along the way.  I didn’t always take these gifts, often I didn’t even see them as gifts!  But they were definitely there.

One such person is Val, our wonderful kindy owner.  Val has written a piece below that I’d like to share with you.                         

I am writing this from the perspective of an Early Childhood Teacher.  I have worked closely with Izzy and her mum for almost two years.

Reflecting on that time, Izzy was clearly confused by the messages she was receiving from society in general and the adults around her – though they were done from motives of love and concern for her, they were clearly at odds with her gender identity.

Since her parents (based entirely on their deep knowledge and understanding of their child, and supported by a specialist trained in the area) made the courageous and wise decision to recognise her female identity, I have been astonished at the transformation!  

Izzy went from being a child who arrived at pre-school each morning with bent head and downcast eyes, wearing her mother’s t-shirts over her jeans, to an overnight and radical change – she arrived to kindy as a child proud and standing tall, meeting my eyes, and above all, glowing with happiness.

What a joy and a privilege to be a small part of such a profoundly life-enhancing event!  It seemed utterly right and natural to listen at last to the messages Izzy had been giving us for so long.

Izzy is a girl with every fibre of her being and for her parents I have only admiration.  They all deserve every happiness.

Izzy is truly blessed by their devotion and love.

Val

Those my friends, are the words of a really amazing lady.  We count our blessings daily to have her in our lives.  Thanks Val.

Details, details

Every time I take Izzy to the after hours doctor (we’re here now) I have to write her birth name and a note saying “please use the name Izzy and female pronouns”.  My palms get damp and I feel sick.

It’s always ok, but each time I feel so nervous and I think how horrible it must be for older transgender people in these situations.

I haven’t figured out a way to get around the name used on her prescriptions, every time the pharmacist calls out her birth name.  So far Izzy’s never heard this, and by the time she’s old enough to collect her own prescriptions her name, and I hope, gender will be legally changed but you’d think the doctor could sort something out – all it would take is a note added to the prescription.

Finding yourself in the right place

Oh what a day.  It started this morning with the realisation Freddie wouldn’t be going to school and needed to see a doctor.  Followed closely by a text to my mum, at some ungodly hour before 8am, asking her if she could come to look after Freddie AND pick up Izzy after kindy as usual.  Eeccchhh.  We all went to the doctors, glands up on both kids but no sign of strep throat, phew.  Off to kindy with Izzy, dropped Freddie home just as mum arrived, and sped up to school for work.

It’s the last full week of school, and life there is predicatably crazy.  I was immediately relieved that Freddie was at home, the scene was of happy chaos.  Just as I found my class I had a message that the Principal was looking for me.  How the hell do those words still have the power to make me sweat??  Up I trudged to the office and was waved in.  

Well, Principal had some great news.  She’d had a meeting with someone from the Education Dept, and it had gone really well and she’d learnt alot.  You know, sitting there listening to Principal tell me about it, about how she was preparing for my child to start school, I had to count my lucky stars that this is where I was.  Where we are.  Where Izzy will be. 

When we were checking out the schools in our area for Freddie (we had four to choose from, all decile 9 and 10) we heard lots of things about our school – it’s the hippie school, it’s where those sorts of kids go, it not for everyone.  Schools sold themselves on their IT programs, their open plan, state of the art classes.  They talked about their plans for expansion, their dress code, their sporting prowess. The other Principals told us about their teacher’s career paths, their assessments and test stats, the expectation that our child enrol in extra-curricular activities provided through the school.  We heard all about how kids with special needs usually go to this ‘other’ school.  On more than one occassion we were told those sorts of families tend to choose this ‘other’ school.  Then we went to this other school.  We met the Principal and for the first time we heard someone talk entirely about THE KIDS!  We heard that every kid matters.  That no child would miss out on ANYTHING due to lack of finances.  We were told, as matter of fact, that we could pay our fees in installments if we wished, or if we needed help paying – that would be provided.  It was made very clear that every child was welcome here.  We heard that kids were allowed to be kids at this school, and we liked it.  We saw that the roll was diverse, it represented real life in NZ.  Without any doubt, we picked this school – and today, again, I was sooooooo happy that we had.

So first thing next term we will meet again and hammer out the details.  I am totally confident we are in the best place.  Honestly, Izzy couldn’t be more fortunate – we’ve had the most amazing kindy team support us and now prepare to head in to a school that is determind to do everything they can to ensure Izzy is safe, supported and able to succeed.  Just like every other kid that walks through their doors.

If there’s one thing I want my kids to understand – it’s that EVERYONE matters.

The other cool news is that we have the paper work for Izzy’s name change (birth cert).  This is the first step in changing her official documents, and is pretty straight forward.  All we need is a JP to witness our proof of identity and signitures, and Izzy can get her new name on her birth cert.  From there we apply for her passport, with the new birth cert, a letter from her psychiatrist and a declaration from us, she will then be in possession of an identity document with her new name AND affirmed gender, with no mention of either of the old!  Izzy will start school with an official document stating she is FEMALE!!!!!  

Now THAT will be cause for celebration!

Time won’t stand still

Each day, no matter how great (or how exhausting) is another day closer to our bubble popping.  To Izzy’s bubble popping. Click here for a quick reminder of what our bubble is all about.

When Izzy turns five and starts school, we’ll be saying goodbye to the safe, loving, controlled world of our wonderful kindergarten.  We’ll be leaving behind (though I hope we’ll keep in touch) one of the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.  (I often think about how I could write a post to do this woman justice, I hope I figure it out soon.)  We’ll also say goodbye to three incredible early childhood teachers, and a small handful of relieving teachers who are without exception, great.  The familar smiles and greetings of the other mums.  I don’t want to leave this place behind.

But it’s not about me, is it.  My fears and my attachments are just that – mine.  Izzy is strong.  Izzy is strong because she comes from a loving family.  Izzy is strong because she will have spent two years, before entering the school system, in a kindy that loves, affirms and supports her – whatever that took.  Izzy is stong because Izzy is strong.  She’s an amazing child.

Izzy and I have been talking strategies.  Casually!  Hey Iz, so if a kid at school is like ‘You’re not a girl, you’re a boy’, what would you say?  ‘I’d just say I’m a girl’.  ‘That’s awesome!  What if they were being twits and they were like ‘No, you’re a boy!’?’  ‘Mum, I’d just walk away.  I’m a girl.’

I asked Izzy who she could go to if she felt hurt or upset by something someone said or did to her.  She named straight off four adults at school who are EXACTLY the people she should go to.  She instinctively knows, or I guess she’s just really bright and has worked it all out:).

I asked Izzy where she would prefer to get changed for swimming (twice a week in term one and four).  She said she’d like to get changed in private, she didn’t want the girls to see she what she has.  I’ve tried really hard never to make her think having a penis is something to be ashamed of, but still, deep down she is well and truely concious that this is the difference between her, and other girls.

I’ve been talking to Izzy about how everyone has something about them that is different in someway.  When I was a kid my ears stuck out.  Like really stuck out.  Now I actually have no memory of this bugging me, or being teased about it, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t, I must ask my mum.  Anyway when I was about nine I had an operation to ‘pin’ them back. Not for  a second am I comparing the effect of having jug ears to that of gender dysphoria, but my point to Izzy was that there was nothing inherently wrong with my ears, they just stuck out more than most other people.  I’m not making this sound quite how I mean it, but I read this amazing post yesterday, you can read it here, from the blog Growing Up Transgender which says exactly what I’m trying to.  Reading it,  I realised how important it is to verbalise – Izzy wasn’t born in the wrong body.  I quote from that post:

You are not a girl in a boy’s body.

This is your body, and you are a girl.

So I told her this, and you know what she said?  She said ‘Mum, I’m a person, just like everyone else.’

I’m not saying I can possibly know my child’s mind, and I know one could read all sorts of things into what she says – she’s trying to please me…  but it’s just possible that this kid, who happens to be transgender, is strong.  This kid is going to make it.  Because this kid has a family who adores her.  This kid has a Dad who loves her.  A brother who will fight for her.  She’s going to make it because this kid is supported by five grandparents, loved and affirmed by aunties and great aunties, cousins and second cousins.  She has a community of people behind her, medical professionals, education professionals, mums, dads and friends.  This kid isn’t treading a brand new path, she’s following in the footsteps of the courageous.  The world is ready for her.  And last, but not least – this kid is going to make it, because her mum won’t accept anything less.

Time out

I’ve got an old friend visiting at the moment, you know the kind of friend – they have a spare key, let themselves in while you’re at work, eat all the food and then just lay around for days on end expecting you to wait on them hand and foot!

He’s been keeping me really, really busy – I’ve only just noticed how the attention he demands is affecting everything else in my life.  He’s like a possessive boyfriend, and I started to feel suffocated before I realised he was up to his old tricks.

He’s essentially prevented me from doing all the things I enjoy.  I’m not writing, reading or even watching tv!  The house is beginning to show signs of neglect and the kids haven’t had veges with dinner for weeks!  I’m struggling for conversation, he’s managed to steal my voice.

In the space of a few weeks, he’s succeeded in stripping me of the joy my life gives me.  Shitty house guest right?

So now I’ve realised what’s going on, he’s gotta go.  I’ve told him, and surprisingly he seems to respect that our days of “friendship” are done and he’s getting packed, preparing to leave.  

This is great, it’s only been a few weeks, last time he was here for months.

So, life should begin to return to normal, in time for my sister’s wedding, Christmas and the Great Summer Hols.  Maybe I’ll even get my writing mojo back!

I’ve known my inconvenient friend for over 30 years now.  It’s hard for him to pull the wool over my eyes these days!  But he’s probably got a string of other friends who might not be so savvy- maybe that’s you, or your partner, your child, your colleague?  If so, the short video linked below might help you see through him. Xx

I had a black dog – his name was depression.  

Guest Post – thoughts from Izzy teacher

We were incredibly fortunate to end up at the kindergarten we did, someone was smiling down on me when I made that decision!  Either that or our lovely Kindy owner/manager has some kind of power to pull in the people that really need her?   I wouldn’t put it past her! 

 The staff have been so incredibly supportive, and understanding.  They’ve approached this unchartered ground with great dignity and respect and I’m honored to share Izzy’s  journey with them.  They’ve given Izzy unconditional love.    One of Izzy’s teachers, who made a guest post awhile back, emailed me tonight with some thoughts she’d put down and with her permission I’ve copied them below.  But first I just want to say the following:

Anyone who know’s Izzy is welcome to share their thoughts, it’s really special to me to be able to share Dani’s.  If anyone has questions, or things they want to say,  but feels awkward approaching me at kindy, please feel free to talk anonnymously here.  

Reading Dani’s post I feel slightly guilty because I don’t want to cause anyone else problems, and I know Izzy would be dismayed to think she had- when I first informed the kindy staff of Izzy’s transition I was offered the opportunity to write something explaining it all in the newsletter.  At the time, I didn’t want to do this because I didn’t want to make a huge statement and put it out there in peoples faces. Perhaps this would have been the better thing to do, not for us, but for others.  There’s not much of a guidebook for parenting a transgender child and I’m kinda doing it by gut instinct and what I think is best for Izzy  (with of course the support of a pyschiatrist  who specialises in supporting transgender youth, and pooloads of my own research).  Having said this, my number one concern remains, and will for the rest of my life,  ensuring Izzy is not part of the 42% of transgender people who attempt suicide.

Recently I have had the urge to re-post but unsure about what.  While I am honoured to be a part of Izzy’s transition (as her teacher) and support her through the never ending struggle that life holds with being transgender or not.  I wonder what it is that people struggle with. What is it that people are scared of? Do we really still believe it is a ‘choice’?  Why is it that people are still afraid of asking questions or make a statement, but find the strength to say it behind closed doors? 

As a teacher of a small tight knit centre, which provides a welcoming environment to allow children and parents to ask questions, talk about issues or struggles in their life (child’s life), we have been faced with parent(s) feeling like we have not given enough insight into transgender and explaining it to their children.  However at aged 2, 3 and 4 how far do we need to go.  

As a teacher I will not lie and “sugar coat” it and say it has been an easy process filled of rainbows and sunshine but, I will say the children have been accepting.  While one made the statement “but Izzy is a boy I know!” (Shared bathrooms, which Izzy has developed enough confidence to go in front of friends) that was quickly overcome when we explained why she might look like a male but is a female (thanks to some well selected words from her mum).  She might have informed a few friends with her findings but they didn’t care.  They acknowledge Izzy as a girl and the children don’t exclude her for that. 

My point I am trying to make is children are more and more accepting of Izzy.  They might struggle at times, but that is not because Izzy is transgender.  Most of the time it is because of the mixed personalities in a small centre, trying to find their direction and role within their game.  They don’t need to know all the facts and figures but do need be told why****** (pre Izzy name) is now called Izzy.  

On an end note – a simple statement from a parent, explaining (I hope you don’t mind me sharing but I think it might help, wording might not be exact):

“Well, Izzy might look like a boy on the outside (meaning male genitals) but in her heart she feels like a girl” and “In your heart what do you feel like….?”