raisingpink

christmas lights

I totally had this whole post written by 10 am this morning as I sat at the information desk at the Trans Conference.  Then, it disappeared.   I don’t know where it went although, I suspect I deleted it by accident.  But, then I went through that whole process of “should I let it go because it wasn’t meant to be”  or “that was stupid to press that button that said DELETE”.  I decided it was stupid to press the delete button and think it wouldn’t delete this post but only the picture attached to it.  So, here I am trying to recreate the earlier blog post.

After a long day yesterday, Pink decided it was time for more swimming in the evening.  Another opportunity to use her mermaid tail and, according to her, to meet and make friends.  Within minutes of entering the pool area she and another girl were chatting and carrying on.  At first, about her mermaid tail but then about their favorite tv show entitled “H2O : Just Add Water”.  This is a show about adolescent girls who share a common secret – they are mermaids.  Ooh.  You can see why there is an attraction to this show in young trans girls.  Their bodies change and they share a secret.  So, as these two girls giggled, splashed and chatted, I was left with a feeling of contentment.  All is well in our world again.  Pink did as she set out to accomplish this evening.  Swim and make new friends.

When the girl had to leave, Pink swam over to me and declared that the girl was at the conference too.  I cautioned her not to assume that everyone at the pool was also from the conference but she seemed to think that most people just had to be.  In no time, she was admiring a group of young adults, maybe older adolescents, swimming in the other end of the pool.  A mixture of boys and girls that Pink was sure were at the conference which meant that they were just like her – but, older.   She watched for awhile as she swam and eventually a tall, dark haired beauty swam over and introduced herself and her connection to the conference.  She would splash and play with Pink for a bit and swim back to her friends.  I suppose she sensed Pink’s longing for company after her little friend left.  Or was just admiring the little girl with the mermaid tail.  However, I watched Pink admire this group.  She had a hard time taking her eyes off of them.  I slowly began to understand that Pink saw herself in that group.  She saw that she had a future, socially.  Or maybe I was the one who realized it?  There is always fear in the future.  What will happen when puberty starts, crushes began and issues like dating and disclosing her trans status?  These are things I worry about for Pink.  I don’t think she will have a normal adolescence but rather, one that will be normal for her.  Sometimes, I wish she can be frozen in time.  Things are good now.  She is happy, enjoying herself and living her life being just who she knows herself to be.    And, honestly, there is no evidence that the future will be difficult.  The transition socially was expected to be difficult but it wasn’t.  I suppose I just want her to enjoy this time now in all of her pink, sparkling wonderfulness without any worry.

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Once again, we are back in Philadelphia for the Trans Health Conference.  One of the largest transgender conferences in the nation in our backyard.   And, its free.  It offers three days of workshops for clinicians, medical professionals, parents of trans youth, and anyone who identifies anywhere on the gender spectrum.  Its pretty amazing.  This will be our third year.

We kicked off the trip by parking in a handicap zone.  Let me rephrase that.  My husband parked in a handicap zone. He claims he didn’t notice it.   That sounds about right for him.  So, as I write this, my husband is navigating the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s strict guidelines as to how to obtain your vehicle from a tow lot.  I’m pretty sure he has no idea what he is in store for but, I’d also like to think that it might actually be a smooth and seamless process for him.  The texts which were, at first, hopeful, are now short and happening at a very slow pace.  I am sure he is in the throws of a painful process with employees who really don’t give a crap.

As for the kids and myself, we already tested out Pink’s mermaid tail in the hotel pool.  Its pretty sweet.  Image

She is super excited to show it off at the pool party tomorrow night.  There is something mystical and magical about mermaids and its something that is very attractive to young trans or gender non conforming children, especially affirmed females.  I suppose it is the ambiguity below the waist or maybe its the mermaids desire to transform her body such as Ariel’s case.  Whatever the reason, Pink is equally fascinated with the mermaid’s plight, beauty and significance in the underwater world.

In any case, so far, it has been the highlight of her trip.  She had the whole pool to herself and she swam and splashed trying to watch the mermaid tail at the same time.  She begged me for video and still shots.

We are going  to bed hopeful about the next three days.   Hopeful about the new friends we will meet, the old friends we will reconnect with and the new bonds that will be formed with kids and families like us.  The conference itself is a very magical place where everyone is accepted regardless of their gender identity.  All of the attendees whether professional or not have one goal in common – to educate and support and become allies for this population.  To keep moving forward.  To keep walking on.

sugar and spiceIts taken me quite some time to process this next interaction Im about to disclose.  It happened around Halloween at our local community center.  The Halloween Dance to be exact and Pink was dressed as her favorite Monster High doll, Draculara, pigtails, monster make up and all.  Most parents do the drop off but since this was Pink’s first dance as an affirmed female I found it best to hang around with some other helicopter parents to make sure all went well.

The following is a conversation that I had with an 8 year old girl who approached me as I was sitting on a bench and Pink was out dancing and living it up:

Girl:  “Hi.  Are you having fun watching everyone?

Me:  “Yes, I am.  Are you having fun?

Girl:  “Yeah.  That’s a nice purse you have there.  I really like it”

Me:  “Thank you.”

Girl: “Are you Pink’s Mom? Is she your child?”

Me: “Yes, she is.  I am her Mom.  Do you know her?  Do you go to school with her?”

Girl: “yeah, we aren’t in the same class.  I know her.  She’s nice.”

Me: “Oh, that’s nice.  Whats your name?”

Girl:  ” Funny thing, though.  There’s some rumor going around that she’s a dude – is that true?”

(insert rug being pulled out from underneath me)

(insert gut punch to stomach and lump rising in throat)

(cue “stress sweat” )

Me: ” Im sorry, I didn’t catch your name.  What was it?”

Girl:  “Im asking the questions here.  Is she a dude?  That’s what all the kids are saying.  Well, some of them are.  I don’t know what to believe”

I quickly scan the dance floor to make sure I have my eyes on Pink because for the first time I actually felt that she was in danger of some sort.  I find her and realize she is fine hanging with her group of safe friends known to us as her ‘cheerleaders”.

Me:  “Why do you want to know?  If it were true or not, why do you want to know?”

Girl:  “Hey, Im just wondering too.  That’s weird if she was a dude, don’t you think?”

Me:  “Do you like Pink?  Is she a nice girl, kind to others? What do you think of her?”

Girl: “Oh, I think she is very nice.  I like her, I guess.  I don’t not like her.”

Me: “Then, does it matter if she is a boy or girl?  Would it make a difference to you if she was a boy?  Would that change how you treat her or feel about her?”

Girl:  (long pause) “No, I suppose not.”

Me: “Let me tell you this.  We need to treat others the way we ourselves want to be treated.  You want to be treated with love and respect, don’t you?  I expect you to treat Pink with respect and behave around her the same way you would want others to treat you and behave around you.  Do you understand?”

Girl: “Yes.  I understand. ok.”

Me: “I never did catch your name.”

Girl:  “That’s because I never gave it to you. You never answered my question.”

Me:  ” I think I did.  You just weren’t listening.”

She pauses.

And, she walks away.

I’m left feeling terrified.  I feel shaky, nauseous and downright rattled to my core.  That was an 8 year old who was so cunning in her approach to me that it literally took my breath away.

I watched her as she made her way through the crowd.  I watched her actions and interactions for any clue that she might be spreading our truth around in a malicious manner.  There was nothing I could do to stop it.  I certainly couldn’t run up to the child and cover her mouth with my hand.  I wasn’t about to approach her mother – who wasn’t even there, I learned.  I searched the crowd for Pink and her friend.  I found them totally unaffected by the interaction I had with the little monster.  I drank some water, calmed down and waited for the end of the dance.  Never really taking my eyes off of that little girl.

As soon as I could afterwards, I asked Pink about this girl.  She knew who I was talking about because she saw her talking to me.  She reported that this same girl was the one who taunted her on the playground. I was furious, angry and full of momma bear rage.  I asked Pink if she caused any problems tonight and Pink said she came up to her and said she liked Pink’s costume.  Nothing else.  Hmmm….

A whole week had gone by when I asked Pink if that little girl was causing problems for her on the playground.  Pink replied that she was leaving her alone.  Hmmm…

This little monster (in my mind) haunted me for days.  Who does she think she is?  How dare she?  The little bully.  Monster.  Every time I see her in the school my stomach turns.  But, I learned that she averts her eyes from me and looks away.  Sadly, deep down that gives me a sense of satisfaction.  A sense of ” don’t mess with me”.  I know somewhere in my brain that she is just a child who was confused by what she heard and didn’t know how to make sense of it.  I keep telling myself that when the anger and panic arise after I see her.  I saw her the other day.  None of that came up for me anymore.  I realized I moved on.

Did acceptance win?  I don’t know.

Did the girl just give up or find a new target?  I don’t know.

Did she realize that Pink didn’t care?  I don’t know.

I don’t care.

That was one of the most frightening experiences for me during the transition year and I realized if I felt this way being confronted by an 8 year old, I cannot imagine what Pink feels like marching out onto the playground everyday, getting on that bus, walking into the classroom.   I sat and cried when the realization hit me and I cried one of those mournful, snot filled sobs filled with gasps and sheer grief.  I felt so sad my daughter had to endure this…. but, slowly, the realization came over me that she was so brave.  So strong.  And, so willing to do this because she is able to do it as her authentic self.  What else is there to fear?

I am sugar and spice and everything nice. Don’t mess with me when it comes to my kids.
And, just to let you know, I think Pink takes after her mother. (wink)

Aside

Posted on: June 6, 2013

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I havent posted much at all lately.  Forgive me.  However, this past February we celebrated Pink’s birthday and her first official one as an affirmed female.  She was 8.   It was monumental in the sense that we didn’t have to hide behind two cakes anymore.  One “boy” cake for guests and one cake that she wants.  We didn’t have to save her presents  for when everyone leaves so we wont  have to explain why she is getting dolls and dresses to everyone.  She got to have a girly girl sleepover.  She was ecstatic.    Staying up, watching Monster High movies and being all giggly with your best girl friends.  For her, it was like a dream come true.  I admit, there were two parents that I was anxious about because I don’t know if they know.  But, the majority of them all did.  Sadly, it marks a passage for us as a family.  We had to take down the family portraits with Pink as a boy.  We knew the time would come, eventually.  And, it wasnt filled with sadness or regret.  It was just another passage of time we had to navigate through as best we can.

There was something magical to see her surrounded by all those kids with her face aglow from the candles.  It was one of those moments that I let have an imprint in my heart.    It was comforting to hear her and the girls trying to fall asleep at night all giggles and laughter.   At midnight, one of the girls had set her alarm to go off just so they could wish her a happy birthday first.  When’s the last time someone did that for you?

Its moments like these that I tell myself everything is okay for now.  She has socially transitioned into a school, a community and a social circle of peers.  And she is okay.   Maybe even more than ok.  Maybe wonderfully happy and joyous.  For now.  And I hope always.

I havent posted much at all lately. Forgive

Yesterday at my son’s baseball game there were alot of kids that knew Pink as his previous self.  So, 3 months ago, these were kids who played ball alongside Pink as a boy.  An awkward boy who would rather chase butterflies in the outfield than a ball.  But, today, Pink comes to the games and cheers her brother on from the stands and sees all of these same boys on the field.  To me, a pretty daunting task.  And, to her as well.  Our pep talk consists of us telling her that this is small stuff in life and that these people, if they accept you will matter to you and if they dont accept you will not matter to you.  Yesterday, as we walked through the game stands in our small little league community field, we heard “Hey, Pink, how are ya?”  ” Hey, Pink”  “Hi, Pink!”   It wasnt until the third or fourth greeting that it hit me.  These boys and girls were saying HER name.  Not HIS name.  HER name.  And, it made me want to hug all of them.  Each and every one of them.  And it made me want to go to each of their parents and say how proud I was of their children and how how proud they should be of their children and what an awesome job they are doing as parents. I said a prayer.  A very loud prayer thanking God for that moment.   My husband and I spent all summer trying to educate anyone who asked ( and didnt ask) about Pink in the hopes that it made the difference  between ignorance and acceptance.  We stressed to every parent who interacted with us and our children that it is by their example that their children will follow.  We always simply asked for respect.  We always stated our door was open for questions, just ask.  And we didnt hide.  We didnt cower.  We didnt run.  We kept going out in the community.  Holding each other’s hands.  Standing together.  Walking on. Hi Pink.  How sweet.

We may be the first in our community to raise a transgender child.  Big deal.  To us, we are just raising our children.  Same as everyone else but we have a few extra things to worry about, that’s all.  But, as we start our journey, I have noticed that we have some really neat firsts. Firsts that I never expected or thought to even look forward to when we started this journey.

Piercing ears.  This was our first big entrance into sisterhood.  Hello Kitty starter earring no less.  It was a painful 6-8 weeks waiting to be able to change them but as soon as we did we reverted right back to our favorite white kitty cat anyway.  And, clearly, it’s so much more fun to tuck our hair behind our ears when we have gorgeous earrings to show off, right?

The next first that I wasn’t prepared for was tan lines.  Not tan lines from swim trunks.  These were tan lines from our tankinis.   I noticed them one night when Pink was getting out of the shower and I was taken aback by them.  These were new.  Something I had never seen before in this way on my child and it was something that very much defined her as a female in this culture.  We both grinned at them.  Another first.

And, on the issue of firsts.  We returned to church today.  We had taken a hiatus.  We needed to explain to our family ministry just exactly the changes we were going through and would they be there to support us in the future.  They said they would and they are.  Nervously.  But, they are.  So, today was another first.  Pink returned to her children’s’ sunday school as a girl.   We returned to our Sunday service.  Anxious.  Full of hope.

My morning started by spotting two cardinals out of my window, a male and a female.  Cardinals as a totem are said to bring courage, grace and faith to a situation.  All of these I felt I needed as we prepared for church this morning.  But, as I left our house my dear friend asked if I needed her there with me.  I said I thought we would be fine.  Later, an email told me she was on her way with her children.  And, as we entered the building, I was nervous.  We all were tense.  Anxious.  Trying hard to look the part of relaxed but it wasnt until I saw her twin boys waiting for us in the hallway that it all melted it away for us.  I felt it.  We all let it go.  We all smiled.  Relaxed.  Joked.  In a sea of faces that seemed so unfamiliar all of a sudden, their faces were so warm, welcoming and hopeful to all of us.  Light, love and acceptance radiated from them.   We didn’t think we needed them there but it clearly made this “first” much easier for us to manage, at least emotionally.

As for Pink, she easily and gracefully, made her way into her classroom with plenty of family ministry to support her and us.  Loving arms embraced us, I believe.   Our message was clear.  We have everything and everyone we need to support us.   The message we walked away with that day from the service was simple.  You don’t have to understand everything to believe.

We faced another first as we encountered a lot of community members and families who had not yet either known about Pink’s transition or had heard but hadn’t seen her yet.  It was probably the first time we were faced with some pointing and laughing.  Some mixed looks and staring.  Mostly from adults, mind you.    But, as much as it bothered me at first, it seems to have passed because it hasn’t shaken Pink.  It hasn’t changed us as a family.  It hasn’t changed her.  If that’s how people choose to behave, that’s on them.  I remind myself that it is their uncomfortableness with a situation, not mine, not ours.   Since its my blog, I get to take the opportunity to say that it is their immaturity, ignorance and disrespect.   I also realized that those who treat others that way are only a very small percentage in our life.  If they only knew the support and love we receive on a daily basis, they might think differently about their actions.  But, that’s not for me to decide.

Pink, however, is excited about some other firsts.  Cheerleading next year!   Ballet and tap this year.   She is invited to a Tiki party on Saturday with some girlfriends and is eagerly awaiting a hula grass skirt in the mail.  She loves changing her earrings.  She cant wait to go to school with her Monster High backpack – did I mention her school has been awesome? – and be with her friends again.  She knows the first couple days will be different but she has faith in her friends and classmates and. more importantly, she has faith in her teachers and counselors to guide her and her classmates along the journey.    We have faith too.    Another first.  

This Sunday is Fathers Day or was Fathers Day.  I know, Im late posting this blog entry.

Pink has the most amazing father.  Pink received her very first Barbie from her Dad.  She was maybe 2 or 3.   She had some sort of stomach flu and couldnt hold any fluids down.  We were at the doctor’s office earlier that day and later at the pharmacy  I remember that she (then a he) saw the Barbie in the aisle and practically cried for it but I wouldnt budge because a Barbie in a  pharmacy was like 10x what it is worth.  I remember telling Pink’s Dad later that night about the Barbie and he had to run out for more Pedilyte or something – probably diapers or butt cream – and he came home with a Barbie and Pink lit up like a Christmas tree.  I will never forget that moment.  It is forever imprinted on my heart.  Pink’s Dad is solid.  He is a man who has not waivered.  He is a man who understands what it means to be a father, a friend, a husband and a provider.  He understands guidance and care, laughter and life.   He can be  a real goofball too but I suppose thats why the  kids like him so much.  I suppose thats why I do as well.

Now, I see him trying to learn how to use a curling iron and it warms my heart.  I notice that he places the bow in Pink’s hair every day, makes sure she has a necklace or bracelet on or compliments how pretty her nails look.  And, I thought to myself the other night as I watched him tuck her into bed, he just might be a father of the bride yet.   How lucky is he!  How lucky is she!     We tend to worry about all the fears in the social transition that we never take a moment to focus   on what positives might lie ahead for our family.  So, back to Pink’s Dad…. yep, he’s the best.   I couldnt imagine going through this with anyone else.  I hear stories of husbands who abandon their kids and shame them and I am so thankful that Pink has a father who openly and lovingly accepts her for who she is and guides her on this journey.  I am grateful that Pink has an older brother who does the same because they both have a father who models honesty and compassion and acceptance.   I took the kids for pictures for this Fathers Day.  I wanted him to remember that this was a Fathers Day of new beginnings for him and for our family and it is this way because of his strength and guidance.  Regardless of what anyone else says,  men look to men in our society to see how to handle things.  So, when men in our community hear aboout Pink’s transition they may form their own opinions about it but they want to know what Pink’s father has to say about it and once they learn of his acceptance and love for her, they seem to have accepatance as well.   I’ve watched it happen.  He  tells Pink’s story with such compassion, grace and honor and almost a sense of humility as well.

I hope he had a great Fathers Day.  I know Pink and her big brother had a great time preparing for it and they love their Dad to absolute pieces!  I couldnt be the Mom I am without him.    Mmsstt!

 

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