Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…

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please read these powerful words…and be moved

scrolling through my facebook timeline, i came across this article; appropriately titled: “someone tell me that i’ll live”

a beautiful bit of starkly honest writing that sent shivers down my spine, gave me goosebumps and brought me to the brink of tears.

we who are raising our transgender children have a host of ‘right now’ issues with which we must contend.  getting blood labs to ensure that we get the puberty blockers on time, before the hormones which would further betray our child take hold in their bodies….starting the cross hormones at the perfect time so that they can experience puberty as the person they truly are….advocating for them with schools and at other social gatherings…educating where we can so that others will begin to experience the requisite compassion.

but none of this ensures their safety.  when our children become young adults and venture out into the great, big scary world, it is out of our hands.

certainly, at some point before she is older, i will have to help my daughter to understand the dangers.  perhaps get her some judo classes…as she is autistic, she often misses nuances in behaviours of others that might warn her ahead of time when someone isn’t receiving her well.

this article was amazing in its ability to bring to mind the realities of our far less than perfect society, and the consequences to our transgender daughters, mothers, sisters and friends.

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a rather provocative title i suppose… no one likes the word very much…not after how it has been used in the last few…hundred years.

but propaganda is planting…specifically ideas. in this regard it isn’t necessarily bad or good…it just is.  it’s a method of beginning to grow something … either a new something, or an already existing something.  it has been a thing since language began probably.  one well-spoken person, with a convincing argument or an authoritative tone bringing others around to a certain way of thinking.

one homeschool lesson we did a month ago was about this subject.  using films (one of propaganda’s finest media) like “propaganda” and one called “branded”, we began to unravel the notion of how propaganda can be used.  i was quick to point out that really school is just propaganda, and just as with a real garden, what sort of seeds one uses for this “planting” or propagation definitely determines the crop yield.

but i’m not writing this to discuss the evils of state or corporate induced propaganda.  or even the benefit of using propaganda to counter-act this ‘mind-control’.  rather, this is a follow-up to my previous post of a few days ago: “in the air”

it struck me as fortunate that there exists this medium of film, of video and audio images entering into one’s thought realm…because there are clever people of good intent who have been using this to the benefit of people who are otherwise misunderstood.

around the holidays, nearly every local or national ‘news’ programme brings attention to the homeless.  kudos to them for that.  but the coverage fades after the season’s greetings have all been said, the decorations taken down.  it isn’t enough.

to be effective, propaganda must be on-going, repetitive, interesting, passionate….it must engage without nagging…provoke without oppressing.

governments know this and have used film to win people over even to the insane mass murder of war since before the ‘war to end all wars’ (which didn’t end them, of course).  corporations know this.  they have whole teams of people, including psychologists, spin doctors and studies about how best to get their products ‘stuck’ in our heads.  their messages are relentless.  they know that this is how it is most effective.  want to know with which country we will soon be at war?  watch the movies, or better yet, television.  the villainous breeds these days will speak with arabic, russian or sometimes chinese accents….this is not a coincidence.  the propagandists know full well how to use their tools.

this tendency of visual images and stories presented in film or via the television to ‘stick’ is a sword that cuts two ways.  because it can also be used to dissuade young minds (or even older ones) from bigotry, from ignorance about ‘those others’.  it can educate, enlighten and improve lives!  this is exciting.

money prevents some stories from being told.  the people that hold the ‘purse strings’ want to be sure of a profit margin… some return on their investments.  filming things is expensive, production is expensive.  and whereas there always seems to be enough money to make a movie or docu-drama about war or crime,  the stories that if told might lead to an end to these have trouble getting funded.

there are many good places to watch propaganda that actually plants good seed.  most aren’t network t.v. or sometimes even the cable networks.  because those venues are run by moneyed interests to the extent that compassionate portrayal of real stories aren’t as important as the profit made.  i suggest as a start going here   or simply google documentaries about:_______________. and fill in the blank.

lately there has been a lot of media attention directed toward transgender issues.   i am thrilled for my daughter’s sake and for the benefit such exposure can have for a very oppressed part of society.

but i worry it will be a ‘flash-in-the-pan’…like all the ‘homelessness stories’ that pop-up around the holidays then vanish before the snows are gone.  i worry that some of the most important parts of the stories will be glossed over for those that will satisfy a more voyeuristic bent, that the ‘sensational’ will be highlighted and the deeper parts of the stories…of the pain of rejection, betrayal…the mind’s discomfiture by the bodies contradiction…all the most important parts, those which can make a real difference in how society understands this sub-set of its own parameters might end up on the edit floor.

two projects in their beginning stages are crossing my path at the moment.  altho i half hope that ziona isn’t chosen for the “inside-out” documentary about young transgender people…(mostly because of strangers lurking about with cameras). .. i am thrilled that another programme about people like ziona is being done!  for propaganda to be effective, after all,

it must be on-going, repetitive, interesting, passionate….it must engage without nagging…provoke without oppressing.

and in its best moments, propaganda can change the world!  … for the better!

p.s. here’s a link to a film called “hidden world: underground rome”, which was done by vicki dunakin, the same woman behind the “inside out” documentary i mention

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in the air

spring is definitely in the air around here.  but that isn’t what i am writing about this day…

instead, this is about things in the air, or rather ‘on the air’ … the media.  media coverage of things can do many things, not all of them good.  but it can tell the truth about issues that are largely misrepresented. and that’s a very good thing.

lately one of those things is about transgender people.  folk already know that it was due to a barbara walters special on transgender children that aired in april 2007 which led to the beginnings of a much happier life for my daughter, ziona.  when she told me she was a girl, i had no idea how to help her…until then.   the airing of that program actually started me on a research journey.  ordering books from such as ‘the transgender child’; calling boston children’s hospital to speak with dr. spack’s clinic; and scouring the internet for anything to help me understand how to support my daughter…how to ease her pain.

that’s one thing about transgender people, old and young, that cis-gender people don’t and maybe can’t understand.  just how much pain is experienced…

every good parent ‘feels’ their child’s pain.  we fret over every fever.  break out the chicken soup and lose sleep until our little one feels better.  when they are bullied or have their feelings hurt by their peers, schoolmates and such, we want to take their pain into our own souls and perhaps sternly reprimand someone else’s child for their insensitivity.  we cringe when we clean out the gravel from their skinned knees. so you can imagine how heart-wrenching it is when the ‘booboo’ your child has is one of being a girl or boy in the body of the opposite gender.

ziona was suicidal at three.

altho, i’m not usually the optimistic type when it comes to human nature, i can’t help but to be very hopeful at the recent and even upcoming media representations of transgender people.  the series “transparent” on amazon…chaz bono, janet mock, …just google ‘transgender media icons’ and lists of role-models for our transgender children come up.  and that’s a very good thing!

my daughter is well on her way to becoming the girl she was always meant to be.  i had an ear to hear her words and a heart to feel her pain.  but were it not for media covering this ‘thing’ of “transgender kids”, who knows how much more pain she would’ve had to endure.  like my many transgender adult friends who had to suffer through puberty in the wrong body…and for transgender women, the many irreversible effects of testosterone, which mean more difficulty in being ‘read’ as just women.

so i am delighted with the media bringing the promise of a better day for transgender people.  just google ‘transgender documentaries’ or ‘programmes about transgender kids’.  i am hosting a woman who had found herself ‘homeless’ after she divorced her wife and disclosed to her family that she is not a man, but a woman. she has been approached to be part of a new documentary which, if she is chosen, would help pay for her transition…she has recently gotten a job and no doubt will be finding her own place in the near future.  but to afford the cost of transition in a state with no obamacare or find an insurance companies that will pay for it isn’t easy.  and who really has extra tens of thousands of dollars to afford it on $13 dollars per hour.  i hope they pick her, of course.

our culture and in fact the ideas many people have floating around in their brain-pans are largely infused by media.  the television programmes and the movies tend to be very good at imprinting people with values that are represented.  this can be very bad at times. for example when the news drum-beats for war, or commercials make women feel ‘less than fresh’ in order to sell them something. but it can also be good, when the invisible becomes visible, when the light of our collective attention is poured out in a dark place.  programmes that tell the stories that have been ‘left out’ … or wrongly portrayed, programmes that educate about things that are misunderstood, are a way forward and a welcomed relief to the ignorance and bigotry that might stand otherwise unchallenged.

yes, there’s something in the air these days….and it makes me very hopeful

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the kids are alright?

everyday, when i get up and greet the day, and after i’ve fed and watered cats and dogs, before ziona has wakened from her dreams, i take stock and give thanks. there is so much for which i am grateful!

that feeling of being graced is accentuated whenever i hear of or read about other parents raising transgender kids, or autistic kids, who are having a worse time of it. who have to struggle with schools, with getting the need of their kids met, and the special problems their children have to face in a system that has few or no safeguards in place for them.

i get to stay home and teach my child. and altho ziona often rebels against lessons (sometimes violently) no i.e.p could ever meet her needs the way that i can. here at home, i can make certain that she learns in a safe environment, that no schoolyard bully will attack her at recess, that she wont be denied the right to use the bathroom without scrutiny.

many folk whose blogs i read, or who post in chat rooms that i visit have much more fighting to do on their children’s behalf in large part because of the schools to which they must send them while they are working outside the home to earn a living. this seems outrageous and incredible to me.

families these days, by and large, require two incomes to keep afloat, for single parent households there’s just barely money enough to tread water. most don’t have the luxury of forfeiting the workplace so that they can teach their kids at home. so they must entrust them to the schools.

where can they turn when the schools fail to provide for their ‘neuro-diverse’ or gender variant children? of course, they advocate for their children, try to make sure the i.e.p for their autistic child is followed. of course they bring bullying or other indiscretions to the attention of those who claim to be in charge. naturally they fight for their children. but in an environment which is supposed to foster learning, why should they have need of ‘the fight’?

what has happened? to our society? to our world?

true that in years past the discrimination was as bad or worse for gender variant folk, for gay or lesbian youth…so much so that a closet was the safe way to go. but this is the 21st century, after all. and altho much has been done to try to right the wrongs of the past, the schools to which we send our children are lagging behind, to the detriment of future generations.

what becomes of our’tomorrow world’ when the morals and compassion one should learn as children, from parents and teachers, fall by the wayside? are the kids really alright?

i empathise with all those parents who must send their child to off to school while they are at work. the worry and concern they must feel, especially when their ‘different’ child comes home with stories of what happened to them at school. or when they don’t tell their stories, cause they’ve seen it won’t change anything.

no answers of course. unless somehow we can time-travel back to the bad old good old days of father knows best and stay at homes moms, to the drawing board, as it were, of today’s society and add a few courses to the curriculum taught, starting with sensitivity training for both the students and the teachers

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planetransgender: Barney Frank, Agrees With Mass Gov. Patrick and The AFA: SRS is Elective

i’m moon, the mother of a transgender child, and i approve this blogger’s anger.

planetransgender: Barney Frank, Agrees With Mass Gov. Patrick and The AFA: SRS is Elective.

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retractable claws

everyone has probably some working understanding of the reference to a mother bear as a way to depict the passion of parents’ protective instinct toward their children. it is an apt metaphor after all for many of us. ready to defend our young against bullies, protect them against dangers, and support them as they grow into the persons they will eventually be.

for parents of kids who are neuro-diverse, differently-abled, transgender and so on, the opportunity to rise to the occasion of keeping our children safe in our often biased and judgemental society will present on a fairly regular basis. after all, despite the changes for the better that each incremental rung of our stairway to heaven has brought, many folk are slow to become enlightened about things that are outside the realm of their own experience or opinions.

so we have to advocate for our neuro-diverse children by insisting that schools follow the i.e.p established to guarantee a child’s best possible outcome in school, we have to make sure that the environment they encounter while in the care of teachers, daycare providers and others will be safe for our children and responsive to their needs: that a differently abled child has ramps for their wheelchairs, alternatives to activities from which they must be excluded, that our transgender children feel comfortable in being themselves, are allowed to use the bathrooms pertaining to their affirmed gender. are called by the correct pronouns.

when it comes to getting our transgender kids the appropriate medical care and treatment, as proscribed and set forth in protocols and standards of care established by specialists in the field, we often find ourselves in the deep end of the pool. insuarance companies try to side-step responsibility as do governmental programmes that are supposed to intervene for those who can’t be insured. rights to coverage varies from state to state, and as if this weren’t frustrating enough we must often deal with the attitudes of medical providers and others involved in the process.

since mid-august, upon our return from the ucsf appointment at the children’s and adolescent gender clinic, we have been trying to get the bone density scan that the endocrinologist and head of that program ordered for ziona. it is a necessary part of the protocol as puberty blockers are understood to lessen bone density. so in order to be safe in going forward, a baseline for zee’s bone density is needed.

the nurse who co-ordinates such things at the pediatrician’s office back here in florida worked at trying to find a code whereby medicaid would cover the scan for weeks, even calling back to the endocrinologist for help in finding a diagnosis that medicaid would recognise and thus pony up for the scan. but by monday, the day before the appointment to have it done, there had been no headway made. i had been in contact with cms, a programme here in florida which covers things for children that medicaid doesn’t or wont, only to be told that governor scott had frozen their funds so that only oxygen tanks or inhalers for kids who will die without them were being approved at this time.

the cms worker suggested i call medicaid’s local office directly, but i knew that the nurse at the pediatrician’s office had already been trying to work with medicaid to get the procedure covered, with no result.

so i got my claws out, ready to make like the mother bear.

i dialed the number, and after being connected to the person who was in the position to help with the matter, began to say what was happening. that the pediatrician’s office was being told by medicaid that there existed no auspices under which a bone density scan for a child as young as zeeona, could be approved, when no underlying condition is presented to show need. the women from medicaid listened, then said that the doctor ordering the scan must provide a diagnosis with a correlating code or there was nothing that could be done.

i flexed my claws, began to unleash the mother bear warning growl.

my daughter is transgender, i told her. the protocol and proscribe treatment for this medical condition, as recognised by boston’s children’s hospital gender clinic and dr. spack, who advises the ucsf programme into which zee has been registered, includes a bone density scan in order to ensure that the effect of the gnrh (puberty blockers) which would soon be prescribed, aren’t impacting the child’s bone density too much. therefore a baseline density needed to be establish. i went on to explain that both federal and state laws protect lgbt people’s rights including the right to necessary therapies and treatments recognised as appropriate to their medical diagnosis. i intimated that perhaps the florida medicaid would have to play “catch up” if they dont have assurances in place that will cover my transgender daughter’s medical needs, simply because those needs pertain to her being transgender.

i took a breath.

what happened next both surprised and delighted me.

instead of the woman continuing to tell me there was nothing she could do, she told me that she knew exactly which code to use in this instance and told me to have the billing department call her and request them. by later that same day, just a half an hour before the scheduled time for the procedure, i received word that all had been settled, the procedure would indeed be covered by medicaid.

from the time i first realised that ziona may need me to fight at some point for her rights to the proper treatment i have been busy getting our ducks in a row; a lawyer through the National center for lesbian rights, doctors, specialists and others who might support us with their knowledge, standing and expertise should arguements need to be made on her behalf, and my own readiness to rise to battle, involve legal action and media if it became necessary. i told my mom just the day before, “well, this might be the place where i must begin to fight”. she smiled and said she knew i’d be fierce.

instead i get to retract my claws, stand down and count my blessings that so far, a battle hasn’t been necessary.

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my very own ‘luna’

i mentioned in a previous post that i’ve been reading a book called “luna” by julie anne peters. it is a very touching story of a trans-girl told by her sympathetic but not always understanding younger sister.

the story touches me on many levels. it is well-written and poignant. the insights into not only the troubles the trans-girl, luna, faces but also the trials that the younger sister goes through serve to paint a most realistic portrait of them both.

having a couple of very good transsexual friends in my life, it was easy to imagine these real life people in the place of luna. the family dynamics, the fear of being herself, the bullying when she is less than the ‘male’ that society sees, the spectre of rejection by family and friends, the ultimate life or death need to be who she is are all familiar variations on the stories my friends have shared with me.

today, while reading a specific passage wherein the narrator, regan (the younger sister) relates an episode from early on in their childhood, the story became all too real. far from merely hitting a bit too close to home, it hit the nail right on the head.

in the recollection, regan, her older brother (the trans-girl, luna.) and the daughter of a neighbor were all swimming in the neighbor’s pool, when the girls ask if they can swim naked. they are very young, pre-kindergarten age, and the mothers say it’s okay. liam, (luna) also gets naked. what happens next is like a page out of my own memories of just 5 years ago, of ziona.

in the story, the little trans-girl starts trying to pull off the penis. she’s crying and almost hysterical. she runs to her mother and begs her to help ‘take it off’, she’s screaming and beside herself in pain and horror.

the clueless mom thinks he was merely ‘touching’ himself down there, says to stop, that it’s nasty and sends him, (her) inside as a punishment for misbehaving. when the mom goes inside, the next thing the younger sister remembers is the mom screaming “what have you done? oh my god. put that knife down!” then bursting outside with liam (luna) in her arms to rush him to the emergency room.

at this point in my reading, a chill went down my spine. memories of the times i found ziona trying to pull ‘the penis’ off, of catching her with the plastic play scissors from her pretend doctor’s kit in one hand and ‘the penis’ in the other. of her begging me to ‘do it’, to ‘cut it off’, that i could do it without her bleeding to death.

“you can do it, mom! i know you can! please!!” the frantic voice beseeching me to do what every child knows a mom can do…make it better.

it was a very traumatic time. my little one, not yet four years old expressed suicidal intent so that “i can die and god can get it right this time”

my mind reeled. i explained to ziona that if god had made a mistake, god also made a way to correct the error. she was of course, not old enough yet to understand all that would be involved, but she realised at that moment, that mommy would help to make it better, in time.

there have been no more attempts to rid herself of ‘the penis’, and at nearly 9 years old, she can now understand that we will have to wait until she’s a bit older to do the surgery, and that ‘the penis’ will become her ‘girl parts,’ the vagina.

i am grateful, to whatever god or universal spirit exists, that my mind was open enough to really ‘hear’ my lovely daughter’s pleas. that life had somehow prepared me for the news so that even while it wasn’t something i would ever have wished for her, i can fully support her and advocate for her until such time as she can do so for herself.

there is no more sense of trauma surrounding the fact that she is a girl whose body will have to be ‘changed’ in order to be in line with who she is. we know that very soon we will be starting her on puberty blockers, followed shortly by what will be a life-long regimen of cross-hormones, and eventually reassignment surgery. we are at peace with the realities now. but back then…

still, after reading the particular passage to which i refer, i had to put the kindle down. altho my eye’s can’t make them, tears nonetheless spilled over in my heart, which felt as tho it were being crushed. it was necessary to take a break, run a bath, get dressed and busy myself with whatever ‘in the present’ chores i could find so that the memories of the past, of her pain when she’d first realised that she had the wrong body, of her own frantic pleading that i ‘cut it off’, could fade into the background once more.

there! that’s better…

now to finish the book.

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poetry and photographs

today, while going through some poetry to post online, i came across a couple of poems written about ziona before she had disclosed to me that she had the ‘wrong parts’, that she was a girl.

the word ‘son’ and the male pronouns used to reference her seemed so obviously out of place now. i began to feel as tho i should ‘rewrite’…but stopped short of actually doing so.

one reason is that daughter wouldn’t fit the meter of the poems, but more than this, altho i completely support ziona and her right to be who she is, there is still a slight sadness of loss. the loss of my son. so i suppose, this is one way to hold on.

already ziona has insisted that the photos once that hung on her walls, those taken before her fourth birthday, the ones depicting that cute little boy with the huge blue eyes, be forever removed. altho she didn’t insist i get rid of them, she made it quite clear that these were not pictures of her and she didn’t want to see them. perhaps they were even a painful reminder of the fact that, until she is older, she still has those ‘things’ which pertain to ‘a boy’.

so i stored the photos away. i don’t really care to see them either. after all, for my part, they speak to not just the loss of the son i’d believed i was raising, but also to the reality of all that my daughter will have to endure just to become who she is. they speak to me of the puberty blockers, cross hormones and eventual gender re-assignment surgery. they even fill me with the worry that while our society as a whole is beginning to accept people who are different in ‘that’ way, many people within this same society have been known to perpetrate assault, or even just bigoted discrimination against people like ziona.

i drank in the words of the poems i’d come across, realising that nothing in their verses, except for the gender specific references, was any less true today of her than the day i wrote them. like the photographs, her spirit shone through in these mementos. the spirit which has never been anyone’s but her own. like the photographs, a sense of bittersweet irony seemed present. an irony that only exists because of the preconceived ideas i held of her, a bittersweetness that vanishes the moment i look at her face and see the beautiful girl she is.

there’s nothing much of a sense of loss to my todays with ziona. she fills my world to the very brim! only when i re-visit those yesterdays do i feel a slight twinge. after all, i have only ever raised daughters, so i suppose there was a bit of excitement and something new to find myself raising a son.

but because of ziona, my todays are even more exciting and interesting. every day i feel challenged to expand my notions of what it means to be ‘female’, of what gender is, of how to allow her to unfold herself, the perfect bloom of her essence, unhindered by my own ‘therefores’. not as easy as the concept it portrays is the follow-through of being a supportive parent and wise advocate for someone in ziona’s place! every day she helps me to grow to a far more fulfilled measure of the role of mother.

so i posted the poetry, as is…figuring that the words spoke eloquently of her spirit regardless of gender reference…and knowing that the more recent ones she’s inspired, only realise a deeper truth about her, not a separate one.

perhaps she can forgive me.