My absence

Please pardon my extended absence, we have been in the process of moving and have had a bit of drama with our FTM.  When my child came out a little over a year ago last August before school started I moved across town for a few reasons.  One being closer to work and avoiding the daily commute, (traffic in my part of the world is horrendous!)  Two, my oldest son was a senior in high school and had moved in with his Dad two years ago when I remarried, and he plays basketball and I wanted to be closer to him.  Third, I was separating from my husband who was having a meltdown after his businesses tanked along with the rest of the housing market.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s not why I left it was really that we didn’t know each other, we certainly didn’t like each other.  We didn’t get along, everything I did annoyed him and we had no intimacy. So it was really a combination of things there coupled with the fact that we had entirely different views on my transgendered child.  The final and fourth reason I moved was to give my child a fresh start a school where he didn’t have any history and where I thought it would be easier for him to be who he was without judgement.  I enrolled him into a performing arts magnet school and since we lived within the school district we were automatically accepted. 

The other part of that story is that my husband and I over the course of 6 months went to counseling and ended up reconciling.  Since at the time I was the bread-winner and we had my son in school he moved in with us and he left the first house we all moved into as a family.  At the time it was going to be foreclosed and was in my husband’s name alone since I already owned another house that I bought a year before we married.    Over the last 6 months the house was going to be sold on a short sale and the process was working its way through the financial institutions stellar home owner’s unit.  Until the buyer backed out two weeks ago.  I happen to be unemployed and not willing to jump back into a career that took me out of the home more than I liked and I’ve been dabbling in some online stuff, wasting hundreds of dollars and with no revenue producing stream for my family to show as of yet and soon to be considering other options we decided to pack it up and move back home!    It’s a lovely house, very big, sits on a small pond filled with fish of every kind, we call it the “honey hole”, and we now have the ability to move back in with a new low payment and we get to keep a foreclosure off our records and retain the house.  So we’ve been cleaning it up and I’ve been painting and doing some cosmetic things to it to prepare for our move next week, (which I’m not ready for). 

My biggest obstacle is with school and what to do with that, do I throw my son back into the mix of students that he grew up with as a girl?  We don’t have his name changed yet and while his first name could really be appropriate for both genders, the middle names, (there’s 2) show up making it grossly obvious that it belongs to a female.  I’m sure it will all work out, not without some drama, and I can’t get him into the magnet program at his current school, I can’t even get him out of bed on time for school living close, imagine what getting up an hour earlier would do to our relationship.  The constant nagging and threatening every morning is enough to ruin the most positive person’s attitude.   So a lot going on and so much to do. 

If you have any suggestions about school or ways that you’ve motivated your child to go to school please help me.  I’ve taken away his computer and phone and I still don’t get the results I should and short of home schooling him, which could be disastrous, I’m at a loss.  I’ve been threatening that since he can’t even get to school here that I’m not going to make any special arrangements or ask the school to send a bus all the way out there when he might not even make it half the time.  Private schools aren’t always the best idea for a transgender and boarding school he would love, but who offers that?  Please help!!!!

**I will resume regular posting hopefully within the next week or so after we’ve moved and hope that you’ll bear with me!**

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Doing the Right Thing

It’s hard to know if you’re doing the right thing with teenagers and if you’re being strict enough or punishing them for the right things.  They are on such a fierce track to independence and we are fighting just as hard to ensure that they are safe and cared for.  Someone once described a Mother’s love as an unrivaled force of nature.  Between the two energies it’s a wonder we don’t have a natural disaster in our presence daily. 

When you throw in the issue of being transgender you add another layer to an already difficult job.  When we ground them we worry that if they’re in seclusion too long they’ll become depressed, even more depressed than they already are.  If my son stays in his room too long there is too much focus on himself and then the long hours of him in the mirror feeling disgusted by the body that still has female parts that he so desperately wants gone.  An hour seems like 5 hours to him and in the world of a teenager a week can be an eternity. 

I have to trust that the suicidal feelings we had this last year are gone and I routinely check in to make sure that he’s not in a place that will drag him down deeper and i constantly remind him that whatever is happening today is temporary.  While he shares a good bit with me and has called me his best friend I’m not naive enough to think that there aren’t issues he isn’t sharing with me.   

He recently got in trouble for something that we found he did a little over 3 months ago and while I normally would limit the punishment on something that happened in the past this was serious enough that there could be legal issues for him.  He thinks it’s grossly unfair to be punished for something he didn’t just do.  Of course the law will prosecute you up to what 7 years after the fact for some things so I figure a few months is nothing! 

I want to protect him and I don’t want his opportunity to get into a good college to be affected by this but I also don’t want him to do it again and think he’ll get away with it because next time he’ll do a better job of hiding the evidence or keeping it from mom.  The problem is if there is another next time of this nature it’s not me he has to worry about keeping it hidden from.  He stole his brother’s birthday check and had a stranger cash it for him and used the money for drugs. 

How do you punish him sufficiently?  He’s had a million opportunities to come clean and he’s thankfully stopped using the drugs that he was buying at that time, and I’m pretty positive about that.  Again I’m not naïve enough to think absolutely without a doubt he’s not using some kind of drug, but I know that this particular one he was using is not being used any longer.  When my Grandmother and I determined that it wasn’t someone here at the house that took it she decided to pursue it legally to bring the criminal to justice.  I actually pushed her as well, we imagined that it was taken by someone who was running some check cashing scheme and they were taking advantage of Grandma’s across the country and steeling birthday money daily from the mail.  So what do I do now?  I swore seven times to Sunday that there was no way it could have been my youngest son, and had his back all the way, until I found the envelope and the card in his closet.  Now I struggle with what the right thing to do is, to let him suffer the full consequences or to shelter him.  I believe I’ll have to think about this some more and perhaps consult with his counselor. 

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Family and an Education on Gender

In previous posts you may remember that I’ve mentioned that I’m not only my child’s biggest advocate, but I may be his only.  Don’t get me wrong, my husband is supportive and accepts our new son, as best a step-father can.  He does still think it might be a phase and that he’s too young to start hormones or to decide what’s right for his body.  I on the other hand, disagree and continue to help my son as much as possible.  (I want to add that I have guidance from a Gender Confirmation specialist and a physician who works solely with transgenders and specializes in Oncology

The relationship with his biological Father and his family are at this point, non-existent.  It breaks my heart because my family is non-existent, so that’s really the only family he has, and now they’ve alienated him.  It was while my oldest son was home from college this last weekend that it really hit me.  When my son mentioned that he needed to call his Grandfather because he’d left several messages for him while he was in class is when I realized how angry I was that he’d never called his other grandson, not in the last 2 years anyway.   

I’ll be working over the next few months here before the holidays to try to find a way to re-connect them and educate them about what is happening in his life.  I will be sending letters and information I can find on the internet that will not only help explain the situation but will also familiarize them with the issues and the choices my child has made. 

My son has such a good heart, he has a conscience, he’s considerate, stubborn, opinionated and fun-loving, and no matter what he is or how I describe him, he’s still a child who needs love, guidance and support.  He needs it from all of his family, not just his Mother.  I’m telling you all this so that if you have any articles, websites, information in general that will help me to reach them.  Something that perhaps moved you or helped you to understand, please forward them to me. 

Thank you and have a wonderful day!

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Our relationship status

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After seeing a link to a You-Tube video about a young FTM and his transition and Q&A with his Mom that someone was kind enough to send me, (Gender-Panic you know who you are!) it inspired me to write something today. 

While watching the video of them answering questions one of them really hit home for me.  I don’t remember the question exactly, but it was along the lines of, “How has his coming out changed your relationship, was your son open about it, and how has it changed your relationship?” and I watched them do their little private Mother/Son look that is evident in their body language about how close they are and the fact that they talked a lot. 

I’m not sure if it holds true for all transgenders who have supportive parents, but I can’t help but think that we have a very special relationship with our children and while most teenagers hate their parents, I believe that our unique situation brings our relationship to a whole new level.  I’m not sure if it’s that Mom’s are usually the ones who are helping you through the situation and the ones you lean on during tough times, but speaking from experience I have to say I feel very fortunate to have such a close relationship with my son.     

My son tells me things that I sometimes wouldn’t dream of inquiring about but I’m so glad he does because it means that he feels safe and loved, and not ashamed of his feelings.  There have been times that my child has been hurting so terribly and that I’ve spent hours diving into issues that had we not been able to get them out in the open could have festered into suicidal feelings.  I have always tried to remember when discussing affairs of the heart with regards to his relationships what it was like to be a teenager in love and to factor in the gender issue and be respectful of the added layer of sensitivity.     

My child often tells people including his friends that I’m his best friend, and I know that he truly means this.  I believe that I am the one and only person who knows everything about him and having that additional layer of working with him through the medical aspects of being transgender and the very personal details that are discussed in relation to his issue are what make us close.  Certainly before he came out we weren’t this close and while I did everything I could to be close to him, (who I identified as my daughter at the time) we didn’t come close to the place we are now.

Knowing that he has such a long and difficult journey ahead of him that a Mother hopes and prays will get easier with time keeps me front and center and perhaps I do too much for him but I honestly can’t imagine life any other way!

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Help for those who need it!

I thought this was awesome and while most trans that I know would rather blend into the wallpaper, there are those that are proud and want the world to know, and this post is for you!

Click here to visit Legalize Trans.

The Legalize Trans campaign is an artistic and educational campaign intended to create dialogue and draw attention to the lack of inclusivity within the popular American ApparelLegalize Gay” campaign. Legalize Trans serves to emphasize the need for Transgender inclusivity within the dominant national Lesbian and Gay rights movement, and provide public education and resources that focus on navigating legal resources for Trans/gender non-conforming people.

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Encourage your child to talk about what’s going on with their body!

My son has been taking hormones now since mid-June which is exactly one year from the date he came out.  We initially were going to start on hormone blockers, but we had really already gone through puberty and they were so much more expensive than hormones and it wasn’t something we could afford at the time, and I’m glad we did, we take a pretty low dose, but I am starting to really see the effects. 

He is looking more and more masculine all the time.  His voice is changing and honestly sounds sometimes like a boy who’s going through puberty and can crack and hit a few different levels.  He had been using Rogaine on his face to grow facial hair, (I’m actually pretty amazed he thought of this and I’m not sure I would have) but since the hormones started the facial hair is getting darker.  I could swear I’m seeing an Adam’s apple and he came downstairs one morning for me to really notice that this beautifully skinned child now had a face full of pimples.  I’ve always regularly visited the dermatologist and taken the kids so it’s not unusual for me to have various washes and creams on hand to cure – well almost anything!  Personally the one thing that has always worked best for me on my face and is working for my son is Dove soap.  If you wash your face with it every night it will help.  It will also help if you’re using acne cream as Dove doesn’t have any harsh chemicals that will react with the medicine and it’s more likely to help keep it moisturized.

He has been binding his chest and we have been using Underworks products, which he loves, and it has made a difference in his breast size.  I think he was even taping them down at one point, and while I’m pretty large naturally it’s a blessing that he is not. 

There is a problem we’re having, well, he’s having – he seems to be producing prolactin, which is the chemical that stimulates breast milk and apparently when your pituitary gland is enlarged or has a cyst or a tumor on it this can happen.  So, this poor child can squirt breast milk a considerable distance.  Now the pituitary gland is in the front part of your brain and the idea of him having a cyst or tumor on it is frightening to say the least. 

Of course we went through the whole interrogation, “are you sure you’re not pregnant or there isn’t any way you could be pregnant?” scenario which I felt I had to do to be sure I knew what I was working with.  We’re scheduled to have an MRI this next week to determine if it’s enlarged, or if there’s a cyst or tumor growing on it.  What I’ve heard so far is that they are 9 times out of 10 benign and that it could be brought on by the psychotropic medication he’s taking to help with depression and his bi-polar disorder

The reason I’m telling you this very personal information is that a situation like this could be mortifying for our trans child (and adult I would imagine) and very scary.  Particularly for a young adult who may be exploring their sexuality and to have this happen could make them feel even more self-conscious about their body and ashamed.  Make sure that your child knows that they can talk to you and that no matter how embarrassing it may be, and Mom’s I’m talking to you, although I imagine there are Dad’s out there that a child feels closer to, but let your child know that no subject is off-limits and ask LOTS of questions! 

Trans children, youth, and adults, find someone who you can talk to, another accepting adult that you feel safe with, a family member, your parents, someone at Youth Pride or another local organization or even an 800 help line, but PLEASE reach out to someone whenever you suspect that there may be something wrong.  Wouldn’t you rather have someone tell you that you have nothing to worry about than to spend hours agonizing over what may be wrong with you?  You have enough stress to deal with without having to keep an issue like this to yourself.   

I consider myself fortunate that I have a close relationship with my son and I encourage any parent reading this to make sure you’ve told your child that they can come to you for ANYTHING, and mean it, encourage honesty and try not to be grossed out by anything he/she shows you or tells you and I promise that your child will feel closer to you and will more easily come to you on issues that are sensitive that could save their life.

**For any MTF’s that may be reading this there is a fabulous system out there that can help you grow breasts naturally and there are herbs and spices in your home that men can use to stimulate breast growth.  Please check it out!

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Parent in Training!

When my daughter decided to come out and told everyone that she was a boy trapped inside a girl’s body it was if now that the flood gates were open she wanted to have everything fixed immediately.  I’m sure that once she decided wholeheartedly to live life as a boy, she felt incomplete in the body of a girl.  That first month after she came out I heard about having plastic surgery to remove her breasts and the desired hormones and sexual reassignment surgery, I had threats from her that she would cut off her own breasts if she had to, and she wanted all of it done NOW!   I know some of it was an emotional reaction and I truly believe that with some of the family rejection, and I’m merely speculating on this next part, that it would be easier for people to accept her if she had all the male parts that she so desired. 

We spent countless hours in therapy and doing research on the internet with my child looking for resources on what the next step was and when was the right time for every step.  With our “ME NOW” generation it seems as though these children are incapable of waiting for anything.  I went through crying fits with him while he sobbed about wanting to kill himself because of the depression he felt about having girl’s breasts, and not having male genitals.  We went through the self-mutilation stage where he would start cutting on himself because he was unhappy with the fact that he still looked feminine.  It can be very frustrating for a parent, even a supportive one like me to stand firm on your convictions when you’re watching your child suffer emotionally.   I also felt frustrated that I was already bending over backwards to accommodate the lifestyle change from allowing him to pack all of his girl’s clothes up, cut his hair short and move out of his pink room, to moving into a new school district where he could attend high school at a performing arts school that I felt would be more accepting of his alternative lifestyle, what more was I to do?

The answer was exactly what I did, one step at a time.  I allowed him to rant and rave and cry and shout and then presented him with real facts about why those things couldn’t be obtained. (Not that it made it easier for him or he instantly accepted it!) As with any teenager or any child for that matter it’s important to set boundaries because no matter how much independence they want and how hard they try to pull away from us, they also NEED us to set limits and to stand firm by our convictions.  Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t change our mind or bend a little, but I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at. 

The place and the people who helped the most were at Youth Pride, and I know what you’re thinking and no they aren’t paying me to talk about them and I certainly don’t get anything out of talking about them other than knowing that I referred somebody to a quality organization that you can trust.  The people there helped validate both my child’s feelings and mine and encouraged open communication while sharing the proper sequence of events that needed to transpire for a physician to consider treatment of that nature.  As I’m sure you’re aware our teenagers don’t think we’re the sharpest tools in the shed and it gives you more credibility if you have someone back up your statements, especially someone in their own world. 

It’s been quite the learning experience for me and there is still so much more to learn and more that I’ll be exposed to I’m sure.  In the meantime, I know that if my son’s in trouble where and who I can turn to, and I have a better idea of how to help him.  Once he turns 18 which is in 2 years then a lot of these decisions will be made by him and will be dependent on his financial situation, but I’m hopeful that before he leaves my home I will have helped him enough to give him a good jumping off point and I’ll know that I’ve done the right things at the right time.  

If there’s anything you can lend me in the way of advice or places you can send me for good reference material, I always welcome your contributions!  After all, I’m a Parent in Training! 


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Youth Pride

 The people who think that being gay or transgender is a choice are well…..I really shouldn’t say on here in an effort to keep this clean for everyone, but I think you get the idea.  My own child’s father who I’m divorced from thought that if I just kept my child away from a certain girl then she would stop putting it into her head that she should be a boy, like the mere idea of separation would make her decide to stay a girl.  When I told him and his wife that I was taking my child to our local Youth Pride to join a support group they thought I was an idiot, although the email I saved from them isn’t as nice as that, and that I was encouraging homosexuality and taking her to a place where she could join in with other lesbians and gay men that would be swaying her to join them, and they’d be having an orgy of sorts.  Again, idiocy!

It just frustrates me to no end to think that his Father believes that he would choose to have family disown him and lose friends over a passing phase.   My child hates conflict so much that he would rather do everything he could to make you happy in lieu of you being mad at him.  I am not going to continue down this road though, it is going to be a positive day and I’m going to keep it that way.

Youth Pride – let me share with you that by the time we got to this organization we had gone through several terrible ~ no horrendous therapists, one whom I found on a transgender site, and were desperate to find a place where we both could connect with some positive resources.  

At first I’ll tell you that I was afraid that my child was going to be exposed to too much information and what I mean by that is information about surgical procedures and hormones, although I knew that I was being ridiculous, my child could find out more on the internet than he could possibly get from an hour of sitting in a support group.  I’m glad that we went!

This was a top notch organization being run by caring people that toured me around the facility, familiarized me with the operation and their rules and standards for behavior.  They were welcoming of a parent who was interested to learn more about them.  I couldn’t have been more impressed.  Before the parent support group started I remember sitting in the office area which is where the front door was and watching these young adults come in and interact with each other.  I imagined that this was the only place they could walk into and not be judged severely because of their lifestyle and I remember that day feeling an overwhelming sense of relief that such a place existed. This organization helped my child to know that he wasn’t alone and that his choices were natural and that being true to yourself is something you should be proud of doing.  It gave me a place to talk to a counselor who worked specifically with LGBT and could provide very real advice and didn’t make me feel like I was being a terrible parent for allowing my child to explore these feelings.  I had the opportunity to meet other parents who were going through the same things that I was, because up until that point, I felt utterly and completely alone and it was becoming increasingly hard to find someone to talk to.  I had gone through at least 4 counselors myself and hated every one of them and I think I blew each one of them away when I walked in and told my story. 

Youth Pride was our saving grace so to speak and if you have a teenager with gender identity issues please take them there and get there yourself!  You’ll be glad you did!

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Implement a 911 Text plan to escape violence

three youths in the furnace being protected by...

Image by jimforest via Flickr

My son and I have a system in place that if he’s in a dangerous situation or feels uncomfortable at all he sends me a text message that merely says, ‘911’.  Our deal is I will drop what I’m doing and pick him up no questions asked.  Now you may say, why on earth is would you not ask questions?   The situation that led to your child using the 911 parent contact can be humiliating and embarrassing for them and by giving them some space and allowing them to calm down and process what has just happened can go a long way in not only their personal growth but it will help strengthen your relationship with them. 

Obviously if there are cuts and bruises or serious bodily injuries you need to know so you can get the appropriate care for your child, and you should always ask if they’re hurt or if you need to bring back up.  If your child is emotionally upset and you can’t see any physical damage and you’ve confirmed with them that they’re not hurt physically it’s important to let them know that when they’re ready you are there to listen.  It’s critical to sometimes sit and listen without telling them what they should have done or could have done and especially important to not criticize the way they handled the situation.  No matter how bad the situation is or how bad it isn’t it’s important for you to convey the message to them that you’re ok with them calling you to rescue them and always, always urge them to get out of that situation even if they merely feel uncomfortable. 

The mere idea of what could happen and what does happen is enough to keep a Mother from ever sleeping again!  Here are a few frightening statistics that while they are old, they are still a frightening reality and the world hasn’t overnight turned into a better place.

  55% of transgender youth report being physically attacked. (GLSEN. (2003). The 2003 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.)

  74% of transgender youth reported being sexually harassed at school, and 90% of transgender youth reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression. (GLSEN. (2001). The 2001 national school climate survey: the school related experiences of our nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.)

  In a survey of 403 transgender people, 78% reported having been verbally harassed and 48% reported having been victims of assault, including assault with a weapon, sexual assault or rape. (Wilchins, R., Lombardi, E., Priesing, D. and Malouf, D. (1997) First national survey of transgender violence. Gender Public Advocacy Coalition.)

 By developing a 911 text plan with your child you are confirming that you love them, that their safety is of the utmost importance to you and that you will not tolerate any act of violence towards them and that they should not allow themselves to be subjected to violence, they do not deserve to be treated that way. 

Love them, care for them and teach them to love and care for themselves………always!

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Thought you might like to help Legalize Trans

I thought this was awesome and while most trans that I know would rather blend into the wallpaper, there are those that are proud and want the world to know, and this post is for you!

Click here to visit Legalize Trans.

The Legalize Trans campaign is an artistic and educational campaign intended to create dialogue and draw attention to the lack of inclusivity within the popular American ApparelLegalize Gay” campaign. Legalize Trans serves to emphasize the need for Transgender inclusivity within the dominant national Lesbian and Gay rights movement, and provide public education and resources that focus on navigating legal resources for Trans/gender non-conforming people.

* taken from an online article from e-junkie.

Posted in Loving your child, Parenting, transgender | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments