Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…


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rip-off report: follow up to “school’s out”

turns out there was at least one other unhappy customer of the ‘too good to be true’ school that we found for zee.

after i got home monday, upon witnessing and being subjected to the dismissive attitude of the teacher in zeeona’s school, i googled to get the phone number to east hill academy, pensacola so that i could call and register my displeasure with what was going on. among the many links that came up was one that had i seen it before i enrolled her, i might well not have bothered.

it was a report on a site called, “rip-off report” and the unhappy customer described precisely what had been our experience, and worse! including an aid who had struck one of the special needs students and was kept on due to the fact that the teacher/owner didn’t want to be sued.

this same women is the teacher in our story!

http://www.ripoffreport.com/charter-schools/east-hill-academy/east-hill-academy-barbara-luca-bda3a.htm

it is bad enough when one is a natal male, transgender, girl identified eight year old autistic who is being teased by an already gynephobic/misogyneous boy who sits right in back of you all day long. but then to be punched by the kid and have the teacher dismiss not only your own report but the coroborations of other girls…well that’s just too much!

when bullying is seen as socialization, ignored and given no consequences, and seeking relief is denied simply because you’re a child, what is to become of society? both the bully and the marginalized victim will grow up someday and take their place in the world of tomorrow. what kind of future will arise of such reality?

had to post this short follow up to the “school’s out” post.

on a lighter note, zeeona and i spent her first day back at our homeschool situation taking a nature walk in a local state preserve and learning about saw palmetto, ghost crabs, pitcher plants, and symbiotic relationships in nature.

a very pleasant day!


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school’s out

ever notice how dismissive adults are of children?

that question arises in my mind alot!
i’ve seen parents, who love their children, simply not hear them when they try to convey something to them. even very important things.

like gender identification.
like bullying.

i was very excited about the prospect of the new school we’d found for zeeona. she was too. but every day of the entire five days she’s been at school, a boy who sits right behind her has been harassing her, calling her names and today he even hit her.

the teacher never mentioned a problem, seemed oblivious.
so today, since the behaviour of the young boy had escalated to being physical, i brought her attention to it. she called the incident ‘socialization’.

while i was talking to zeeona about it, two of the other female children spoke up. they chimed in right after zee had told me and i told the teacher, that the boy had hit her.
the teacher’s response? “i didn’t see anything” so one of the children who had seen spoke and said “i saw it.”

then one of the other girls spoke and said, “he’s like that to all the girls.”

the teacher kept interupting while the other kids were talking with zee and i, answering the questions i was putting to them with her back turned to my self, zeeona and the other girls. in a most ‘couldn’t care less’ way.

when i told her, that i was not speaking to her but to the children, and that they had also had problems with the boy, she said, “yes, all of the children are learning socialization skills.” and added that the boy was a child.

she was dismissive of the corroberation of the other children and simply said, and told me, they’re just children. she wouldn’t take their word for what zeeona was saying. she was dismissive even of me.

tomorrow i will unenroll my daughter from school. we will go on a nice nature walk on the gulf shores bayou. and the next day, we will start back homeschooling.

the irony of the fact that the boy was harassing zeeona because she’s a girl hasn’t escaped my notice. it is only further proof that she is a girl. but it is also her first time feeling the sexism of our society in which females are picked on just for being females.

welcome to the world as it is!


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of hope and dread

two things happened today. one of them filled me with hope. one filled me with apprehension and dread.

life is like that.

the thing that filled me with dread was some horrible news about my sister’s grand-daughter. she is only 5 years old and was just recently diagnosed with cancer in one of her kidneys. she was to be set for surgery to remove the tumor on monday. until it was discovered that the tumor is the size of a football. and has displaced internal organs. now nothing is set. nothing is known.

i tried to put my self in her shoes. but it is just too close to home for me.

you see zeeona has juvenile polyposis coli. and altho the pathology on the lesions has as yet come back benign, the longer her colon produces these pre-cancerous lesions, the greater the possibility of malignancy.

i have no idea what lies ahead for my sister’s grand-daughter. but hearing about it reminded me both of how lucky we are…yet how tenuous health and normalcy can be in this life. how we tend to take such blessings for granted.

the other thing that happened today, the one that filled me with hope took place in the local furniture store.

i had just purchased a new chair and table for zeeona’s room, and was being checked out by the older woman with whom i prefer to do business there.

she’s about my mom’s age, around mid 70’s. she’s sold us every piece of furniture that i’ve bought for this house, since 5 years ago when we first arrived. and so, she knew zeeona when she was a three year old boy named zion running around and playing hide and seek amongst the tables and couches on the sales floor.

it was natural for her to say, “is your little boy at school?”

i didn’t take even a moment’s hesitation when i answered: “turns out it i have a little girl.”

she looked at me with a quizzical expression, so i went on.

“she’s transgender”

what followed was a very nice conversation in which i explained to her what it means to be transgender, and a bit about some particulars.

like how i waited, probably too long, to allow her to be a girl, how i thought, even hoped, it was just a phase. how i researched and learned more about the whole thing and how finally, to spare her the psychic pain should would suffer did i not support her right to be who she is, i set aside my fear and ‘he’ became ‘she’.

the elder woman listened intently. her eyes showed an open and inquisitive soul, an underlying compassion shown through them. she looked at me with an empathetic expression and said,

“it’s better nowadays than before. people are changing. it’ll be even better in years to come.”

then she said, ‘he’ll be just fine.”

“she” i corrected the pronoun choice softly and respectfully. and the woman smiled and apologized for the incorrect pronoun. saying.

“i’m sorry, it’ll take me awhile to get used to it”

“that’s okay” i said “my mom still has a hard time remembering.”

this whole episode filled me with such hope! that a woman, not a close friend or family member, but slightly more than a stranger, was so understanding and open minded. and of course, what she said was true: it is better now than back then, and it will be better in zeeonah’s tomorrow than it is today.

there’s still a long way to go. transgender people are subject to discrimination, to ridicule, to harrassing and violence. but the world is coming around, ever so slowly. i have hope that someday, the gender to which one identifies, and whether or not this matches the natal reality, simply wont matter to anyone at all.

in reality, i’m far more worried about zeeonah’s juvenile polyposis morphing into cancer than i am about the fact of her being transgender. and i’m filled with way more dread and apprehension about my sister’s grand-daughter than i am about my own daughter’s future.

maybe i’m only an optimist.
or maybe i a dreamer.

but dreams are the things that give us wings. dreamers truly can change the world!


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to win the future

my little girl is growing up. so fast!
at eight years old and in third grade it is her first time in school.

we tried pre-school when she was three, but it was a public school and altho allegedly for special needs children, the staff, from teacher to administrator, seemed not to know what autism is. so iep’s weren’t followed and after three short weeks, no more school for us.

the school she’s attending now is a private school. everyone that works there has had special training in learning disabilities, especially autism. there are only five students in her class and two, sometimes three teachers. on every single child’s desk is a small laptop. internet and programs loaded onto each one keep the children occupied when they’re not doing the lessons planned for each day.

my little girl is growing up fast. and someday soon, before she begins to hit the infamous ‘tanner level 2’ where the testosterone that a male body creates would begin to do it’s irreversible damage, she will start on blockers to prevent this tragedy and take cross hormones to allow a normal puberty as the girl she is.

the years ahead of us will be full of many particulars and special needs not usual to raising most young girls to adulthood. and it seems clear that the world that surrounds us is only beginning to awaken to the presence of uniquely different children like zeeona.

but just as we found our way to a school situation that was fitting and appropriate for her, i have no doubt that we will also find our way through the maze of testosterone blockers and cross hormones, and doctors and surgeons to help her to become the young woman she is destined to become.

along the way their will be many, like the folk at her first school, that just don’t get it. there will be need for advocacy at every turn until and beyond the time she is grown and on her own.

but she is strong! i have no doubt that she will rise to each occasion, leap each hurdle, and win the future – not only for herself, but also for other children like herself who will be born.

this is the way we win the future. this is the way to win hearts and change minds.


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hopes for all their tomorrows

so the vacation zee and i took cross-country was a blast. we saw the sites of this spring weather’s tornado disasters. we were detoured around the still flood level high waters of the missouri river and we did some camping and spelunking in california and south dakota.

altho these various roadside attractions were alot of fun for us, and zeeona has added national park ranger to the ever growing list of things she might like to try for a career later in her life, the thing she has talked about most since our arrival is the fact that there are other kids like herself.

not that i hadn’t told her about these other children, not that i hadn’t sought out and found videos online about other transgender kids. of course i have done this frequently since she disclosed herself to me. but it’s different when you get to meet them face to face and actually play together.

she is so much more confident of herself now. and convinced even more of her female-ness. she has a very bright and intuitive sense of who she is. and she’s asking questions – important questions.

for example, she asked me about checking the female box on applications for school or driving license. then when i posited a future wherein there were no boxes to check, but rather a line next to the question “gender: how do you identify.” then, i said, someone can say exactly how it is with them.

her response? “i will only just say female.”

when i told her that she can either be ‘stealth’ or open about being trans, and that being open about it can lead to more people being comfortable or aware of transgender issues, she shrugged, as if to say “meh. whatever” she simply didn’t care either way.

how i love the guilessness of youth! to zeeona’s mind, she is merely female. something wrong happened with her body, and she is going to have it fixed. like wearing a brace for scoliosis, when one’s spine is crooked.

for her sake i hope for a change in the functional behaviour of the dominant paradigm so that she never has to be a victim of prejudice and small-mindedness. that she will never fall prey to a transphobic hate crime.

it is never easy being different in this culture of homogenized ‘sameness’. but the times are changing albeit ever so slowly. so who knows? maybe someday my informed apprehension and justifiable fears will be unnecessary; like a vestigial tail.

so here’s to the future, and to all those who go forth beyond the present into the fabric of tomorrow. may all the wrinkles of today be swiftly ironed out that their dreams may come to fruitition and who they are in terms of gender may be of no more importance than how they like their coffee.


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brave new world? – NOT!!

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-08/blood-test-can-tell-babys-sex-just-7-weeks?cmp=tw

this article infuriated me on a number of levels.
the most glaring of these was the cis minded supposing to know what gender might be! of course, the ‘gender’ to which the article refers, is the XX vs XY natal sex.

the second most disturbing thing about the article is that a not-to-subtle trend toward eugenics, albeit ever-so scientific and progressive! facts remain that in many cultures infanticide for a first born XX newborn is understandable. in our own culture certain disorders, like down’s syndrome (or even autism) among many for which a screening might be available, might mean that beautiful children like my own gender-variant, “high-functioning person with autism” daughter might be scarser since one could simply terminate the pregnancy.

in many respects the ability to ‘select’ for the absence of certain disorders seems appropriate, even compassionate in the event the disorder would mean undo hardships financially and otherwise. or perhaps a parent ‘knows’ they couldn’t rise to the occasion of raising a ‘special’ child.

but where does it end? where’s the line in the sand? who gets to decide the parameters? do we begin to create a future like the one envisioned by mr. hitler of pale skinned, blonde, blue eyed offsprings with NO abmormalities? and what outcomes might we alter for our shared futures just because we can? who is wise to play god?

the point was made in the article for knowing the XX or XY-ness of the fetus in order to prevent things like turner’s syndrome or ducheyne disease. but one of my lovers had turner’s syndrome, she was beautiful, creative, intelligent and my life was fuller for having known her. this article seems to allow for her not to have been born. and altho there are indeed other diseases that are either XX or XY expressed, there are many examples of folk born with some of these disorders who lead productive and socially full lives, members of the same society as those whose ‘genes’ would not have given pause to consider termination.

but the real outrage is that it purports that the XX or XY-ness of a baby is indication of gender. because the natal gender of my beautiful daughter is XY, the article was flawed from the outset.

how could gender binary mindsets be so strong today? when there are so many people living their gender variant lives? how can gender be seen as black or white? when clearly that isn’t true, there are intersex children born as a testimony that gender is beyond the binary even in terms of the strict physical sense. and with functional mri scans exhibiting an actual variance in the way transgender folk think, in this the 21st century, how can such a black and white system continue to be used.

and then there’s this problem: who among humankind can claim the wisdom to know which ‘traits’ should be encouraged and which disposed of? in the event that a gay or transgender gene should be definitely identifiable, would our society suddenly find itself without great poets, writers, scientists, philosophers, philanthropist? how many buddha or jesuses would make the cut?

my daughter has autism, is an XY natal transgender girl, she has neurological deficits, and many anomalies as regards her genetic profile, including a transfer of genetic material between the third and fourth chromosomes. she has intermittent seizures and an often pre-cancerous condition of the bowel called juvenile polyposis coli. all this, and yet my life is only blessed by her!

so how can i feel good about a scientific discovery that might lead to fewer of people like her?


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afterglow

it is the last day of the gender spectrum conference.
there’s no way to do justice in a blog to the experience
we have had. in order to do that, it would be necessary for
the computer screen to grow weepy around the eyes, and the
reader to see the glow in my daughter’s smile.

i found gender spectrum in a round about way.
a kindle amazon search led me to the book
‘the transgender child’ by stephanie brill.
this book was not only an excellent way to begin to
understand my child, but also served as a reference to genderspectrum.org
and dr. spach at boston’s children hospital.

having made contact with dr. spach’s office helped me to know the protocol
that we would follow to help zeeona become a young woman,
and also convinced the child protective services social worker
who came to investigate a complaint about my ‘parenting’,
that i was a good parent, doing everything above board to
correctly see to the needs of my child.

i gave a copy of stephanie’s book to the counselor we found
who was happy to have the resource since she had no
prior experience with transgender issues.
for although our focus for zeeona’s therapy wasn’t to be
about her gender identity variance,
it seemed a necessary pre-requisite that the person ‘connecting’ with my daughter have at least
the beginnings of understanding.

then through the genderspectrum.org website i learned about the family conference.

this was the fifth year of the annual event, and was so jammed packed with information
that choosing which seminars to attend and which you’d have to miss was a most difficult decision.

there were seminars on everything from legal, medical,
and mental health issues, to how to help family understand
or how to create supportive community,
even some on how to reconcile the transgender reality
to one’s faith or spiritual beliefs.

and while the parents or caregivers were busy getting all
educated and developing resources, the children were kept busy
with important things too!
play!

there were kids, tweens and young teens and older teens,
separated into groups with age appropriate activities and
engaging fun.

the volunteers were nothing short of awesome!

the weekend was incredible for zeeona too, who usually only
participates in parallel play. she played actually ‘with’ the
other children! and altho the usual lack of recognition of
social nuance was definitely in evidence, the planning and the
care of the staff were such as to prevent incident.

(a child with autism is often not an easy one to integrate into
a group whose members are strangers prior to the the event.)

it was heart-warming to see all the other parents and
caregivers there supporting and loving their children
just as they are.

it was encouraging to learn about all the professionals
not only giving seminars for the event,
but also participating as attendees educating themselves
to better serve their clientele.

it was inspiring to watch the beautiful kids and young adults
being who they are despite the dominant society’s attempts
to oppress them.
kids simply being themselves.

i come away from this experience with answers to many
of the questions only the parent of a transgender child needs,
and with a feeling of confidence that we are not alone.

there are caring professionals who make it their life’s work
to see to the concerns of transgender folk.
there are other parents who share in common with me,
the experience of advocating for their gender variant children.
there are other children and young people who, like my
daughter, are going about the joyful and sometimes difficult
process of growing up.

in the afterglow of this experience, the world seems somehow a
more hopeful place; a place that can make room for a child
like zeeona, and all the others too!