Important to my beautiful transgender daughter and to my self, as her primary support system…
Been too busy living to spend much time here at the blog recently… But I couldn’t resist passing along this gem..
It seems so obvious…. Women are women… Whether by accident of birth, or through actively asserting one’s gender, despite the travails such journeys often bring.. Women are women
I’m beyond words
The title of this piece comes from one of the little children’s-not children’s books I’ve read to each of my kids whilst they were young. It is a parable, really, of breaking away from the dominant paradigm in order to become oneself. It’s all about the butterflies!
My own daughter’s story is a bit different from Gia’s. For one thing, she told me her truth before she turned 4, altho in hindsight, she’d been hinting at it from the time she could talk.
Zee also is autistic. Social constructs have pretty much no power over her, and her social nuance detectors are all ‘offline’. This means that she had no clue that in our binary, xenophobic society, her claims were not widely approved, or even believed.
We homeschool too, which makes everything easier.
Still, I’m very moved by this story of small town mindsets transcending the tendency to reject differentness or fear it.
Maybe there’s hope for us after all
My daughter is autistic…she prefers this way of saying it, because she has owned the various traits that set her apart from neuro-typical folk like myself.
It’s important to acknowledge a person’s right to self-definition, so this is how i say it…
And it’s amazing the intricacy of the distinction…one is a statement of being, one is a diagnosis. No one should be reduced to a diagnosis.
That being said, instead of saying ‘autism presents along a spectrum’, i say autistic persons each have their own unique qualities. Even if some or many of these qualities are held in common with other autistic people, one needn’t consider and entreat them as symptoms, anymore than one would say of neuro-typical folk that they ‘present along a spectrum’ and then begin to define them according to what they can or cannot do.
This post is about how my daughter’s conversations, when she chooses to engage in them, are not dialogues…she, like many other autistic persons, monologues.
There are too way many instances that could i could relate to describe what this monologuing entails, how it differs from dialogue but is communication, no matter how dissimilar it is to the conversations of neuro-typs like myself. But yesterday was a perfect example, so i will tell that story. Then, dear reader, just know that this describes most, if not all, of her conversation.
Yesterday…there was an event for a bunch of homeschooling parents and their kids to attend a bbq, to get to know one another. Most of the kids found their way to places to congregate together, away from the adults. It was no surprise to me that Ziona did not. Instead she did what she usually does, found a place away from the crowd…she may come by that naturally enough, as that is my usual ‘gathering mode’ as well. She usually prefers to hang with the grown-ups, admitting that kids either bore or confuse her, so even tho i had scheduled the event as part of our homeschooling under the heading of social skills, i wasn’t surprised when she found a table full of adults with whom to hang.
What was interesting to watch was how other people responded to a child who didn’t really converse, despite the fact that she was talking. One would ask, “oh, how old are you?” or “what grade are you in?”, she would barely answer them before launching into a monologue about one or the other of her favourite areas of interests. “Did you know that archeologists almost all agree that even T. rex had feathers of a kind?” *adult hmmms says “oh?”* yeah, and birds are really just modern day dinosaurs that survived the extinction 65 million years ago, and—–”
She’ll go on forever.
I’m used to having precious few dialogues, actual give and take dialogues with her, and i live with her! The only way i get that sort of actual conversation is if i make it part of homeschool lessons, which of course, i do.
But as i was watching this – to me very familiar scene, it occurred to me that whatever the interactive back and forth commonly found in the conversations and dialogues of neuro-typical folk, and no matter how utterly unlike such conversations this was – she was communicating, nonetheless. She was recognising and relating to another human being, altho without the eye contact. She was sharing of herself, much more about herself than do we neurotyps when we voice platitudes or speak of things like the weather.
It was exhausting for some, i think – judging from their responses to her monologuing. A fact of which she, with her lack of ability to unravel the duplicity of social nuance, was never aware. But as i snuck glances at her captive audience, i could pick up on a non-verbal, “god, she just keeps going on and on”, as one by one, the chairs around the table offered up their occupiers, who politely found ‘somewhere’ else to be.
so , yesterday, for homeschool…i got schooled! Because i finally realised just how much Ziona’s monologuing says about her interpersonal skills…how much more she communicates and shares in this way, how much more she explains of her self and her reality to the those who share the world around her. My own shallow and rehearsed interpersonal dialogues with others seem to fall far short of really reaching out and touching in comparison!
Thanks to Kira for another great article to pass along.
Being mother to any child carries, along with the various joys, worries as well. This is especially true of those among us who are raising transgender girls. As if growing up and into their personhood isn’t already fraught with drama and doubt, our daughters must also contend with a lack of compassion and support from others of their peers, that unlike the garden variety meanness of teenage girls, will be a ‘thing’ with which they must contend even once they’ve grown into adulthood!
Of course, that rejection by other women is one of the lesser things facing our daughters. Job and housing discrimination, failures in health care coverage, and even assault and murder are far more prevalent among transgender women than their cisters.
No one challenges a cis woman’s womanhood. when she gets a boob job she’s rarely demonised for it. She’s not considered fake if she uses make-up. Women who are born without a vagina or a uterus aren’t feared or loathed. So what is behind the isolation of transgender women? Why are they denied the right to self-definition and self-determination that every woman’s movement since the 60’s has demanded for their cisters?
Only ignorance! Only a lack of awareness! Only a failure of compassion!
So we, the mothers of transgender daughters, cheer at every victory, feel fear at every assault and stand proud while we do what we can to alleviate that ignorance, educate the unaware and remind our fellow women that every woman deserves our compassion and support.