Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…


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on first glimpse

yesterday evening was the first glimpse my daughter had ever had
of people like herself. it was surprisingly a non-event for her.
i had thought she’d have been more excited upon seeing other kids
who also express a gender identity other than the one society had
allowed for them.

but zeeona has autism, and high functioning as she is, there are
yet a few things that give her pause.

she has difficulty with new things, with changing from one
activity to another, with social nuance
and appropriate responses,
and she doesn’t meet new people easily.

so she took to doing the one thing she does to relate to new
situations: she pretended to be running a store.

at home she also does this, gathering ‘nature’ items from the
backyard and turning them into ‘crafts’, or drawing pictures
and displaying them for ‘sale’.

lacking nature to craft while here at the hotel, she instead set
up shop in the private conference lobby and began drawing and displaying,
and ultimately handing out the pictures she drew.

i worry about her going off with her group today, away from me.
she is not able to tolerate the ‘paper work’ part of going to
the toilet, partially because of her ocd about germs, and maybe
partially because she doesn’t like to be reminded of the ‘spare
parts’.

yesterday i made a happy face – sad face placard for her to use
to communicate with the adults in charge. she knows she will have
my phone number to call me if she needs to, for any reason
whatsoever. hopefully this will be a pleasant experience for
her, despite the autism that keeps her from enjoying things
that ‘neuro-typical’ children can take for granted.

that she feels safe here so far is obvious, from her lack of
insisting upon leaving to find the solace and quiet of our room
altho, it was touch and go for a while during the milling about
and background chatter before the welcome meeting.

at day’s end i hope to post a most glowing and positive report
on our experience of the event.

i know i will be able to get some much needed information about
how to negotiate the maze of medical, legal and mental health
issues involved in advocating and supporting a transgender
child, but i hope that zeeona’s autism doesn’t prevent her
a great first glimpse into the community of people who share
in common with her a contrary and unique gender variance.

just a few minutes until we venture out and see what will be.
i’m a little nervous…

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the road less travelled

all this week my lovely daughter and i have been travelling
across the country by car to get to the gender spectrum
conference in berkeley.

we try to take a road trip like this at least once a year
out to california to visit friends and stay awhile in
our mountain home in northern mendocino county.

taking a different route each time affords us opportunity
to really take in the beauty of this country.
but it also gives the mind much time to reflect.

one of the things that occurred to me this time around
is how like a road trip life can be.

there are the long straight stretches of road
that require very little in the way of having to
attend to driving.
these remind me of the everyday parts of life.
the housekeeping, shopping, yardwork, meal preparations,
visits to local parks, zoos, relatives.
all rather second nature, easy come – easy go type activities.

then there are the special things, the road-side attraction type stuff such as an art fair in a nearby town,
an outdoor concert,
a play put on by a local theater group.
such as require a bit more planning to fit them into the ‘trip’.

sometimes there are more hectic parts of life’s journey.
like when one must negotiate a tricky cloverleaf interchange,
or need to exit left across multiple lanes of traffic
filled with other drivers busy with their own concerns,
or simply trying to merge onto a busy freeway.

this last type of driving experience happens frequently in the life zeeona and i share.
because of her unique neuro-diversity
(the doctors call it autism)
at times even the everyday activities can be as tricky as a cloverleaf,
because of her unique gender identity we have had to do the ‘exit left’ sort of manouevers, far more frequently.
and advocating for all her various needs often seems
like trying to merge onto a freeway upon which other drivers,
oblivous to our intents or necessity, little bother to make it easier for us.

never mind.

we enjoy our roadtrips, both the metaphorical and literal ones.

today is the first day of the gender spectrum conference for which we delayed our annual trip,
coming late instead of early summer.
having seen many new things along our way, we will doubtless enjoy this ‘exit left’ experience since so many other of life’s
travellers are on the same journey.

shared experience of similar life paths can be so rewarding and encouraging.

while zeeona is meeting others her own age who share
in common with her a divergence from the dominant societal norms for gender, i will be learning how to ‘merge’,
by learning from those more experienced and in possession of
more knowledge than myself in the various seminars i will attend.

life is real…so it goes.

i realise that even before zeeona came along, my life had
always seemed to be ‘the road less travelled.’
i’m not sure i’d have it any other way.
and just as the poet of the verse from which this post takes its title,
it has made all the difference!


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ASAP

apprehension.
a feeling that something is coming.
perhaps only fearfulness that the judgments of others will force my hand as zeeona’s most strident advocate.

recently i shared with my 25 year old daughter the fact of zeeona’s reality
as a transgender young person. a notion that was met with incredulity and alarm, mixed with advice that we should seek help.

we are, of course, doing just that.

but the help we are seeking is how to assist zeeona be the person she is.
how to ensure that she goes through female puberty.
how to enable her to be legally known as female on her various identification documents.
how to empower her to gain the right to simply ‘be’.

the help that was suggested unfortunately proved to reveal a prejudicial attitude that there is something deeply wrong with zeeona.
that she is somehow in need of repair. that we needed to find someone to help her be a boy. get her some kind of ‘therapy’.

of course, zeeona is seeing a counselor. but not to try to bend her sense of self to match her external physique.

in the three years after zeeona told me her ‘secret’, i
sought to downplay the notion. hoped it was a phase that
would work itself out.
brought her to an endocrinologist to check out whether a hormonal imbalance was confusing her.
talked to her geneticist about the effects of the transfer of dna between the third and fourth proximal arms of those chromosomes.
quizzed her neurologist about the abnormal brainwave activity and other anomalies as to whether such things might be behind her gender dysphoria.

in addition i did extensive research. into the most
prestigious of medical journals that broach the subject.
read books written by professionals who are themselves
transgender (transsexual some of them).
sought out others in cyberspace who might help me to put this thing in
perspective.

meanwhile i refused to let her feel badly about her ideas, but questioned them.

asked her if she felt she must be a girl to wear girl clothes, play with girl things etc.
told her that girl-ness and boy-ness isn’t really about genitals.
shared with her the fact that i was a ‘tomboy’
(as tho that were similar to what she was going through!)

in the end, it took all my strength to wrench my own mind
from the cage society has built, thus freeing my self to
assist this beautiful young girl to become who she is.

in the short time during which zeeona has been living
outloud she has become so much more confident, so much
happier and infinitely more at ease.
she doesn’t feel the need to tell everyone she meets that she is a girl,
because she looks the part and folk assume her gender from that.
she no longer tries to ‘rid herself’ of the ‘spare part’ (as she calls it).

from much of the statistical data that are available,
breaking free of my own ‘programming’ to support zeeona ‘as-is’,
may have the effect of helping her to become whole.
may be the way forward to a life wherein she can love her self
the way she is.

the suicide rate for transgender folk who are rejected by
family and friends is much higher than that for the same
group who receive the loving support of family.

so, what should i do about members of my own family, like
this daughter, who judge and freak out about this?
zeeona doesn’t want to live in secret.
she wants to have the surgery and therapy that will bring her body
around to her mind.
she is no longer ashamed.

so do i protect her from other members of her own family?
or is contact with these people kind of like being exposed, via vaccinations,
to a germ so as to build up an immunity?

i have no answers to my own inquiries.
we simply take each day as it comes and as it is.

hopefully my 25 year old daughter will learn to accept and embrace her younger sister some day. but i fear she will gossip about it to the wrong person, someone who will call the child protection services (as two anonymous callers have) or try to seek legal ways to interfer.

that might be the source of the apprehension.
even tho, both times the cps investigators came out they were impressed
with the way i have responded to zeeona’s reality,
it still feels uncomfortable being scrutinized by those
who are empowered to take children from their homes.

however, i was reassured by the cps that they wont investigate further calls made against us that are because of my allowing zeeona to be the girl she is.

so what is this apprehension?
this sense that the other shoe is about to drop?

maybe just the disturbed psyche of a woman who is about to embark on a cross-country road trip from florida to california, just to attend a conference for transgender kids and their families.

i hope someday that being transgender will raise no more of an eyebrow than does being brunette and blue-eyed. but until then, it’s down to me: to accept, support, advocate and protect her needs.

i call it ASAP, a clever acronym that not only lays out the proper response to these beautiful humans, but also the acceptible time-frame in which to extend them their rights.

apprehension.
a strange word.

i like asap better.


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to do the right thing

it is great being a parent!

while this statement is true at many levels, it shouldn’t be taken to imply that parenthood is without its trials.

my daughter zeeona has brought me no end of expanded awareness on a variety of subjects. as well as moments of absolute frustration.

but i wouldn’t trade a single moment of our time together for all the rice in china.

all in all, raising a transgender daughter doesn’t begin to compare with dealing with the side effects of her autism.

considering the surgeries and hormone treatments in her future concerns me far less than the juvenile polyposis syndrome she has, which necessitates yearly surgeries to remove countless pre=cancerous lesions from the whole of lower intestinal tract.

thinking of her health and well-being in lieu of the brain scarring she suffered at birth, the abnormality of a transfer of genetic material between the third and fourth chromosomes, and the anomalous spiking of electrical activity in her pre-frontal cortex worries me far more than the fact of her gender variant identification.

tell someone your child has autism and they sympathize with you.

inform them of the juvenile polyposis syndrome, and what it is or might mean and people are moved to compassion.

share with someone the fact of the intermittent seizure activity, the slight cerebral palsy that affects pronunciation of some words and has caused weakness and lack of tone in some of her muscles, and people consider our lot unfair and think us brave.

but if you let them know that your child is transgender all bets are off.

seeking to do the right thing for our transgender children is often called, ‘enabling’ them to be ‘mentally ill’. pursuing a course that can actually heal the child’s rift with the physical reality when it includes helping the body to align with the psyche is judged harshly by people.

there are no end of resources and medical practitioners to help zeeona and i maneouver the course of her various other ‘conditions’, and no one is concerned when i pursue the most appropriate treatment for them…they would be concerned did i not!

but when i pursue the appropriate treatment for helping my transgender child achieve wholeness, along with the prejudices of the sociey at large, there are precious few facilities and professionals geared to assisting us, unless we go to boston, seattle, san francisco…

well, you get the idea.

the statistics are daunting as regards transgender folk. if they do not receive the appropriate treatment to knit their outer selves to their inner selves death by suicide, drug addiction and other self destruct behaviours are high.

this is not a phase. it is not a mental illness. it is not a disease pathology. it is a person’s inner self and gender expression betrayed by the physical reality. or maybe for some it is really just a betrayal of their reality by a cis-ist dominant society’s insistence upon a binary gender system.

for every transgender person the way forward is perhaps as varied as are people themselves.

some will be fine with merely knowing they are inside the opposite of what their external bodies appear. some will want to alter their appearance and live as their identified gender to some degree, whether taking it all the way to gender reassignment surgery, or just hormones. some may be satisfied with merely using cosmetics and dress code that society has approved for that gender.

but without a doubt, the most important therapeutical assistance for any transgender person is acceptance of their reality. – by society, family, and friends.

so why doesn’t this happen? why does zeeona get all kinds of understanding for her various other conditions and judgement and loathing for this? why am i lauded as a patient and perserving parent for seeing to her health and well being in every area, except this one?

being a parent is sublime. and it is an honor. it is also a call to advocate on behalf of someone other than one’s self. regardless of previously held beliefs.

and so it goes…

to do the right thing isn’t always the easy path. come to think of it, usually the reverse is true.


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family affair

well, i knew this day would eventually come, never mind i put it off so long.

you see, i raised my kids to be inclusive and non-judgemental. to be fair-minded and accepting, so it might come as a bit of a surprise to some that i should put off letting them in on their youngest sibling’s gender identity.

everyone here in florida…my mom, brothers, nieces, nephews sisters, (none of whom were raised with the sort of openness and information with which i raised my children) have accepted zeeona for who she is.

my mom, while she doesn’t understand it, is supportive. my siblings don’t comment about it and accept zeeona as my daughter. one of my sisters did call cps (i’d wondered who the second call came from) but the person from the agency got back to her and told her that i was a very good parent and that allowing a transgender child to live as their identified gender doesn’t equate with neglect or abuse.

but tonight i shared with an another daughter the fact of zeeona’s being transgender.

it was no surprise to me that someone who doffed the free-mindedness of her upbringing, and embraced being a mormon to the point of feelings of judgement and discrimination to even just plain run of the mill gay folk, was fully unable to wrap her little mind around the reality we face daily.

i told her to read this blog.

i told her that i would happily send her to the best books, research, information and websites about the matter.

isn’t it strange!

her reaction was that zeeona needed to be ‘reprogrammed’ or ‘treated’ to get the boy back into her i guess. tho i am paraphrasing her words, that was the gist of it.

zeeona has never been confused about who she is. she’s been angry that god put her in the wrong body. she’s been afraid that she wont be able to grow up the girl she is. she’s felt betrayed when her cousin teased her about it in a public way and has felt the joy of forgiveness of this betrayal.

she hasn’t for one single day, i’ve come to realize, been a boy. and she will tell anybody who will listen that she is not a boy.

but since she’s been allowed to live outloud she doesn’t feel the need to ‘inform’ people about the ‘soon to be remedied’ unfitting body parts. she’s accepted for a girl and looks like a girl as any kid at her age will, if dressed in society’s gender apropriate proper clothing and a long hairstyle.

i hope that my other daughter will come around. but i’m not holding my breath.

zeeona’s transgenderedness is not a pathology, nor disease to be remedied…nor is it a mental problem to be head-shrinked away, nor is it horrible thing to be ashamed of and hide from people.

without regard to how family and friends feel about the reality she lives, she is happy, well-balanced and proud to be a girl. and i wouldn’t have it any other way!

like my most favorite tee-shirt says
“my kid is transgender. if that’s a problem for you – get some help”


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separation anxiety?

back when i first knew i would adopt and raise zeeona, it was believed by all that she was a boy. and i was really excited.

i’ve raised two girl children, but never a boy! i was ready to bring out all my tom-girl best! teach him to fish, to build tree-houses, and i could buy hot wheels and train sets and all the other toys i wanted as a child, which having been born female santa never brought me.

so here we are, she is a girl undoubtedly. but she is the same sort of girl that i was. she likes dinosaurs and hot wheels, climbing trees and all the stuff i loved as a child.

it has been a blast raising her. during the four years everyone (but she) thought she was a girl, we did so many fun things together. and we have been doing them ever since. traveling, camping out, landscaping and playing with what most folk consider ‘boys toys’.

but i am having a bit of separation anxiety over one particular thing in this change-up pitch i got tossed as her parent.

it’s the photos.

yes, sadly, i was totally able to give up the notion that this time i’d be raising a boy. especially since she is not too much of a ‘girly’ girl.

but i’ve taken soooo many photos of all our experiences together! the trip to hawaii, to belize. the photos of her piloting a plane, steering a sail boat and so many more.

it is these that i am having trouble giving up.

you see, zeeona doesn’t really want photos of herself as a boy hanging around. first the ones displayed on the walls had to go. then the ones in our photo albums and the slideshow on the computer.

i haven’t really deleted them, or thrown them away. i keep thinking that some day she might want to refer to them. not as they relate to her having started life in a boy’s body, but as they depict her life, the memories of times that we did things that were really special.

and she has yet to demand that i trash them all. she simply doesn’t want to see them.

i can always sneak peaks when she’s in bed, did i want to see them. but if she does one day ask me to delete them, to get rid of any reminder of the pain she felt at being defined ‘boy’, what will i do?

do i pretend to have thrown them out in case when she’s older she decides she’d like to see them again? and why am i so attached to them?

one reason for the attachment is that once upon a time i had albums full of photos of my girls which were destroyed in a flood following a particularly nasty storm. now i have very few intact from those parts of life.

guess this will be the least of the worries zeeona and i will have in our so-journ together on this trek called life.

there is the whole medical part of ensuring that she’s able to transition into the proper body, advocating for her right to have her identification from birth certificate to passport, driver’s license and every thing else reflect her proper gender, being there to put the pieces back together when she learns the hard way how closed other people’s minds are toward trans-folk like herself.

at least for now she hasn’t demanded that i delete or trashcan these mementos. so perhaps she never will. but it was quite enlightening to realise how much these photos mean to me and how much she wishes they didn’t exist.

in the end, it will be her decision.

there are still many years’ worth of moments to memorialize from the times since she began living outloud as the girl she is up until she leaves home and beyond. and we are a couple of shutterbugs so no worries.

still…


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apparently outrage got outwear’s attention!

good news!
just after i blogged my outrage at the ‘womyn born womyn’ tees and accessories, i visited my facebook news links and found this!
**************************************
14 July 2011

To our LGBT Community;

Please let me begin by saying it was never my intent to alienate our community or promote hate in any manner. Believe it or not, I had no idea of the gravity of this very political issue and the hurt it would cause. As a businessperson working in this community for the last 17 years, I have received many amazing inquiries, ideas and suggestions via my website to design and produce many products that I now currently sell.

As of late, I have received many inquiries to design and develop the WBW line of products for my customers. However, I was not as informed about this issue as I am today. It was an emotional reaction/business decision and NOT an informed action to develop this line further, and for that I truly apologize. No articles of the product line have been produced, and I have made the decision to discontinue it in the spirit of repairing and healing any damages that may have occurred as a result of this uninformed decision.

Please do not interpret my silence up till now as anything other than needing time to take this in, educate myself and create a thoughtful and respectful response.

If you know me or have seen me at the OUT!wear Booth at any of the events I’ve attended so far this year; you would see me wearing and selling the latest addition to my product line, “LOVE is a many GENDERED thing”. I designed this shirt many months ago as an attempt to reach out to the transgendered community as an act of inclusion and NOT exclusion.

I hope we can all come to a place of open dialog and positive discussion regarding this sensitive issue that is threatening to destroy the gains that those that have come before us have worked so hard to achieve in our battle for equality.

I would be willing to participate in any forum that would take on this issue in the spirit of cooperation and trust, so that we can all be educated and understand opposing points of view. It is only in this “positive spirited” dialog that we will educate and enlighten each other so the innocent error that I made will not be repeated and further divide us, instead of unite us.

I have received many, many, (many) emails from people in our community who I have never met. Several of these have touched me personally with their kind words friendly manner and personal stories, which have genuinely, moved me and shown me another perspective. It is because of this I have made the decision to not produce or sell this product line.

Truly humbled,

Maria S. Nasca
*****************************************************

okay, so she claimes it wasn’t outrage but letters sensitively and kindly expressing their feelings…whatever.

i’m just glad the line will be discontinued!
now if we could somehow cancel and discontinue that attitude that was behind it in the first place. of cis women exercising cis privelege over other women!

and yes, i do feel a bit like the rosanne rosannadana character played by gilda radner on those old saturday night live comedy sketches. so here it goes.

imitating rosanne:

‘oh, they retracted the line of womyn born womyn stuff? (facing camera smiling) never mind.’