Pasupatidasi's Blog

thoughts, poetry, life as it is…

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a little knowledge

last week i learned that my youngest sister was avoiding me because of my support for zeeona as a transgender person. my mom slipped it out in a conversation in which she also said that no matter how much information i am able to provide to help either herself or my sister understand the issue it wouldn’t be sufficient to dispell their discomfort.

it was disconcerting to me at the very least to realise that they chose to be uncomfortable and unenlightened over accepting or at least informed.

no matter. my mother still doesn’t feel comfortable that i sleep with women. and certainly both she and my sister are in the majority with their stance concerning gay or transgender people, and especially transgender children.

i thought i’d seen some progress this year when my mother actually began to use the female pronouns when referring to zee and when she had gifted her at christmas with ‘girl’ things.

i thought there had been progress even further back in time when my mother told this sister and her daughter,(my niece), that i would not be banned from her home, and would be allowed to visit even when zeeona’s cousins were staying there as they do on a weekly basis.

but in lieu of the most recent remarks, i wasn’t sure if mom’s ‘i’m so busy’ replies when i’d ask if we could come over were her way of keeping zeeona and i away when the cousins were there.

so of course, being quite honest and above-board, i outright asked her if patsy and her daughter were uncomfortable with zeeona and i visiting when lexi and mikey, (zeeona’s cousins) are visiting. adding something like, “cause you know, it’s not contagious”.

mom assured me that she ‘didn’t think so’. but i sensed a subtle omission behind the words. still she apologised if she had sounded ‘put-offish’ when she’d described her busy day and told us to come over.

zeeona has a great time whenever she gets to play with her cousin lexi…in fact, being autistic, even while she had trouble relating to other kids her age, it was remarkable the way she from the first meeting seemed close to lexi. when i used to provide daycare for lexi and mikey, zeeona and she were inseparable. like sisters, even tho at the time zee was not yet living outloud, she shared knowledge with lexi about the fact that she wasn’t really a boy. more like a ‘girl-boy’.

yesterday while they played together, lexi used the male pronoun when referring to zee, and then corrected herself! replacing he with she. i hadn’t been witness to the event, because i was in the kitchen, scanning the news feeds on my phone, but my mom right away came and related the story to me, proudly adding: “i’ve been trying to help her understand.”

then, as synchronicity would have it, i opened a news article that reported a study correlating the incidence of transgender substance abuse with the discrimination and oppression suffered by this group. the report was replete with percentages and comparisons to the ‘rest’ of the population.

i began to read it outloud, my mom politely listening as i went through the data not saying much until i got to the parts about how in 29 of our fifty states it is legal to discriminate against gays and transgender folk, that 51% of gay and 90% of transgender people report having been subject to discrimination in employment and/or housing, that gay and transgender people were far more likely to be the victim of assault, sexual battery and other forms of abuse. at these figures my mom’s interest seemed piqued. as she clicked her tongue and “oh really”-ed the various bits of data.

but the article included something even more important. a fact of which i’m guessing she and all the others ‘uncomfortable’ with zeeona being transgender and my support or her are blissfully unaware. that it is a medical condition and recognised as such, with a bonafide recommended therapeutical remedy.

upon finishing the paragraph that stated this, i paused for effect, then said to her. “can you imagine someone feeling ‘uncomfortable’ with zeeona because she has juvenile polyposis syndrome, or judgmental of me for seeing to it that she gets the necessary colonoscopies and bloodwork to ensure she survives the condition and is healthy?”

from the look on my mother’s face i could see that she understood something new. that she’d been given a different context in which to consider zeeona’s transgender identity and my support of her. it wasn’t exactly an “aha!” moment. more of an “if this is all true then …” cognitive event.

before this, and partially because my mother had warned that no amount of information would alleviate her and my sister’s discomfort with the issue, i had almost decided to give up on them…but now, i am glad i acted otherwise.

it just might be that just a little knowledge can go along way, in easing open the door to understanding and dialog. and, who am i trying to kid? i can’t ‘not‘ offer a branch to minds stuck in quicksand…it’s just not who i am.

as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, queer and transgender folk we are controversial merely by being true to ourselves. of course if we lived in an enlightened society there would be little if anything to distinquish our life-stories from anybody elses. so in the interests of making tomorrow a better world, it seems appropriate to educate, and foolish not to.

cause in some cases, a little knowledge is not a dangerous thing, it is a beginning.


a few words about culture

recently i’ve read many articles and blogs from folk who have a far less than favorable opinion about parents like myself with regard to our support of our transgender children. some of these articles even raise the spectre of conspiracy citing an industry that is using confused children and their even more confused parents as a means to become rich,i.e. the surgeons, purveyors of hormones etc.


where does one even begin to unravel such a twisted knot of irrational insinuations?

ostracism and misunderstanding are things well known to we parents who support and advocate for our transgender children. our families are ‘uncomfortable’ to the point of severing contact, or merely insisting still to use the wrong pronoun, seemingly going out of their way to do so. child protective services are sent out to investigate us for abuse. people roll their eyes, whisper behind the back…and that’s just the polite ones! sometimes complete strangers who are aware of the situation feel compelled to share (or air) their ‘views’, altho they wont stand still to hear the other side of the matter, instead they harumph and storm away content in their opinion that we are harming our children.

it isn’t possible to explain to such as these that it is small-minded adherence to the demands of paradigms embraced by their dominant culture that is harmful to our children. and not just to our children but to transgender people in general. and not just to transgender but also to lesbian, gay and bi-sexual folk, because it is that same paradigm which serves to justify discriminating, ostracising, oppressing or even out right assaulting creatures of another culture, for simply being who we are.

within every culture that has ever existed there have been ‘sub-groups’ with the culture. sometimes defined by nationality, sometimes by race, religious affiliation, career, language, differently-abledness or even hobbies. there also exist specific cultures based upon gender. most of these sub-cultures are tolerated by the dominant one. it is not considered a problem that the irish are proud to be irish, that the jews celebrate chanukah, that native americans have pow-wows. that catholics cross themselves, that cops hang with cops and doctors with doctors, and of course ‘boys will be boys’ is a good evidence of the absolute acceptance of gender sub-culture.

but in our society, the dominant cultural paradigm affords no quarter for a subculture of gender-variance. it is considered as an affront to god, unnatural, a mental illness. as if this binary system of gender were sacro-sanct. so someone, anyone who challenges this ‘rule’ is seen as a threat, possessed or simply confused.

our children are not possessed, they are not sick, they are not confused. we, their supportive parents, are likewise, not confused. we understand only too well what our kids will be up against as adults within this closed-system society. we also understand that it is important that they be allowed a ‘cultural’ reference, a place within their gender group among their peers. it isn’t necessarily true that boys will be boys, after all…and it is important that these ‘not boys‘ be allowed to ‘grow up’ among their peers; girls!

please read here for words from a woman who knows this.

i have mentioned before that i have more than a few friends that are transsexual. for all of these women, a common regret is that they’ve not ‘grown up’ as girls. they identify a certain sense of having missed out on many aspects of ‘female-gender specific culture’ that one usually grows into with one’s peers.

a long-time friend of mine, whom i have always considered my ‘sister’ and who seven years ago, in her mid-forties finally became the woman she always knew she was, often points out how this lack of a common history within ‘girl culture’ affects her.
she cites the various milestones that girls go through ‘together’ or at least around the same age: the pre-interest in boys ‘they have cooties’ phase, getting breasts body changes phase, becoming interested in boys phase, the multitude of nuanced behaviours including among them such negative ones as cattiness and gossip. she missed out on these. and as a woman in her mid-forties many of these peer-shared experiences wont be repeated for her benefit.

when i once mentioned that as a gender-variant person there was much of ‘girl culture’ that i wasn’t into, she said simply: ‘yes, but you were there.’

like so many other women who have for whatever reason, waited until they were much older to transition, it isn’t only the reality of the irreversible effects testosterone that frustrates her. it is the sense not having been part of, and party to the shared history of others within this ‘girl culture’.

as the parent of a transgender child, having done enough research to know that this ‘phase’ is not a phase; that whether or not i ‘support‘ her, she must eventually become who she is, in my humble opinion it is a part of my parental duties to ensure that she experience the same normal things that other girls her age will. even if i can’t ensure that she wont experience the negative things that NO girl her age will have have to suffer: the exclusion, discrimination, or even assault, i can at the very least be there for her and see to it that she gets to grow up as the girl she is.

culture is important. but culture that prevents a person from being who they are is evil.

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i almost wish i cared

yesterday, while speaking to my mom, she disclosed to me that one of my sisters who hasn’t been speaking to me for the past few years would like to be able to sit down and talk with me. my mom thought this was great progress. then she disclosed to me that the reason patsy hadn’t been able to tolerate my presence wasn’t that i had called children’s protect services about the boyfriend who had been abusing her grandchildren. but because she wasn’t ‘comfortable’ with the way i am raising zeeona.

i’ve known for quite some time that it was patsy, my own sister, who had sent child protective services to my house. one of the two calls that they’d been sent to investigate concerning my support of zeeona’s right to be the girl she is inside.

i didn’t hold it against patsy, even tho my brother thom, who revealed this to me mistakenly thinking that i already knew, believed that she did it as a way to get back at me for turning in the abusive boyfriend, (a guy who is currently serving time for endangering those same grandchildren…not because of my phone call or the investigation by child protective services, but because he kidnapped them from daycare and informed their mother, patsy’s daughter, that he wouldn’t bring them back until he got $500 dollars.)

i was quite surprised that it was the offense of supporting zee that was behind patsy’s attitude toward me. but i told my mom that i would be happy to get together and talk with her. maybe educating her about transgender issues would make her less uncomfortable with our decisions.

imagine my surprise when my mom, who this year finally bought ‘girl’ appropriate toys and clothes for zeeona, countered that suggestion saying that she was herself still unaccepting of transgender issues, even after having learned more about them from me. that no matter how much information i can bring to her she doesn’t think she’ll ever be ‘comfortable’ with zeeona living as a girl.

well, excuuuuuuuuuuuse me!

i almost wish i cared!

i almost wish i cared that they are so uncomfortable with my decision to alleviate the pain my child had been in, with my having educated myself so that i could understand what she was going through. with the fact that i care enough about her and love her enough to do what i can to spare her years of future pain and frustration by believing her and supporting her today!

my mother is fully aware of the fact that when zee first told me that she was really a girl, that i was alarmed and concerned. that i took her to an endocrinologist to see if maybe an imbalance of hormones could be to blame. that i’d had the pediatrician schedule an ultrasound of zee’s abdomen to see if she had ovaries too, was intersex. she knows that i tried convincing zee that she could still play with ‘girl’ things and dress however she wanted, even if society says boys can’t do these things. my mother knows that zeeona was so upset upon learning that the spare parts wouldn’t just ‘fall off’ one day that she tried to eliminate them herself, that she begged me to do it for her, that she’d cursed god for the mistake and expressed suicidal intents as a means to be ‘born again in the right body’. my mother knows all of this. she also knows that it took me three years to really hear what zeeona was saying and allow her to live as the girl she is.

yet, despite this…despite all the information i’ve shared with her in trying to help her accept us, she’s still uncomfortable!
and fully understands why my sister can’t bear even to inhabit the same space as us!

they’re uncomfortable?

zeeona is wearing a body that is the wrong one, she will have to undergo surgeries to become who she is, take hormones the rest of her life. she will be more likely than almost any other group to be assaulted, prejudiced against, discriminated against and in general relegated to the periphery of society. jobs, housing, even just a loving relationship with someone will all come harder to her because of how ‘uncomfortable’ people are with transgender people.

i tried pointing all this out to my mom. but she just said that no matter what i say, no matter what science, doctors or even oprah might say about it, she doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to accept this. to which i say, “yes, but you’re not even able to accept that i like to sleep with women”

“that’s right” she said…in a tone that let me know that the only way she could overlook this fault in me was by not having to think about it. so shut up.

but how can she not think about the fact that zeeona is transgender when she sees her in dresses, with her beautiful long brown hair trailing behind her as she runs and plays. how can she not think about it when i keep insisting on the female pronoun those times when she uses ‘he’ to refer to my daughter.

so, yesterday i found out that i’m not really ‘acceptable’ either…just easier to take because there’s at present no “girlfriend” in my life to make it clear who i am.

well, i will probably still try to educate and inform those close to me, and even the larger world outside the family. but as to whether or not they’re ‘comfortable’?

i almost wish i cared!

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what will it mean?

my beautiful daughter, who is transgender, is also autistic. tho each of these facts of her life and mine presents its own special set of circumstances, neither has thrown me exactly ‘for a loop’.

then, recently i received a call from the geneticist. i hoped it was about finding out what sort of nastiness is behind the juvenile polyposis syndrome, a condition which necessitates yearly colonoscopies, and removal of the constantly arising polyps.

being transgender has caused only few issues thus far; acceptance by others as a girl, frustration at having the ‘wrong spare parts’, and wishing she could have the gender-reassignment surgery already are about the extent of it.

dealing with being autistic is a bit harder. there are tantrums, an inability to self-calm, problems with transferring things from short to long term memory, rigidity in ritual behaviours, ocd…that sort of thing.

whereas the juvenile polyposis syndrome is understood to carry along with its diagnosis a significantly increased incidence of cancers.

so it had been my hope that the request by the geneticist’s team for ziona to submit a sample for study, that it would be to find out which of the known gene mutations or transcription mistakes was the cause of this potentially life-threatening condition.

but as it happened, the request was for ziona to be part of research into the effects and phenotypical expressions in people who have a translocation of genetic material from its assigned chromosome to another chromosome.

in the interest of furtherance of knowledge about what such thing might have to do with her developmental delay, (she is very high-functioning and only delayed in ways explained by her autism) we decided to become part of a scientific study that will research the manifestations, if any, in relationship to these various translocations of genetic ‘stuff’.

the chief geneticist, who hadn’t seen ziona since she had been living as the girl she is, looked at her file in his lap. he made the notation “transgender” without any explanation on my part, since his colleague had briefed him. but no sooner than he’d made the notation he told me that there was no way to tell what had caused ziona to be transgender.

i let him understand that i knew that this was just a study about the relationship of translocations and developmental delays. feeling a bit miffed tho, that the study was addressing things that are least problematic in our lives.

after we got home i began to read the voluminous explanations of participation and signed the consent forms. but as i did so, i couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if a relationship is proven? what if it were possible to determine if such a translocation were likely to occur? would there be some who would terminate a pregnancy if a blood test revealed a likelihood of this translocation?

many of my friends in the lbgt community are of the opinion that should a test be proved to predict a baby’s sexual tendencies before it is born, some folk would see it as good cause for abortion. and, after all, since in some parts of the world having a boy is so preferred to a girl that female infanticide still happens, is it any stretch at all to imagine what it will mean when science is able to determine such matters aforehand?

today, some people do terminate pregnancies when it is known that the child has spina bifida, or down’s syndrome. but is it ethical to disclose information that may result in such a decision?

some will argue that birth-defects should be an exception to ethics regarding disclosure because such things result in life-long hardship and suffering for the child as well as expense to the parents and/or society. but there are those who believe the same thing is true of gayness, or transgender; that they are undesirable birth defects.

what will it mean for society as a whole if the quest for scientific understanding turns into a virtual practice of a kind of eugenics that would rob the world of people who are different?

as for me, i can’t imagine my world without this creative, autistic, transgender daughter.

so, although we decided to participate in the study, to further scientific knowledge, it is my highest hope for the sake of our world’s future, and the sake of those who will inhabit it, that compassion and wisdom will advance as well, else science will become the gateway for ‘cleansing’ the human race of some of its greatest attributes.

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at what cost? the strategy of bradley manning’s defense

there can be no doubt, at least in my mind, that bradley manning is a hero. his conscience led him to make certain things public, including a damning video of US soldiers shooting and killing iraqi civilians from a helicopter. then came wikileaks and the throngs of cables, none of which were top secret, but all of which were revelations of the way in which business is done, behind the scenes.

his treatment at the hands of a government, angry at being “pantsed” has been nothing short of horrific and aptly defined as torture. he has been held in solitary confinement, often naked and without even a blanket, for nearly 24 hours of every day for well over a year. he has been denied visits, unless the matter has been pursued with viligance, and amnesty international was denied their request to visit him in detention.

that his actions did NOT harm a single troop on the ground or elsewhere and the fact that the cables were NOT released as part of a conspiracy with wikileaks or any other entity, seems little to matter to those who would lock him up and throw away the key. all this despite the present administration’s assurances of transparency, protection for whistle-blowers and repeal of bush era violations of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

so, one cannot help but feel that WHATEVER strategy could lift him out of his present circumstance is justified. but is it?

the strategy being used by manning’s defense is to paint him as a victim. NOT of a secretive government’s desire to shut up opposition, NOT of a conscience that wouldn’t allow him to look the other way when he came across clear abuses and under-handed duplicity. NO! the defense claims that stress created by the pressures of being a gay man in the service under DADT, along with the gender identity issues he has caused him to be leaky!

i think we all know where this can lead. the insinuation is clear. gay and transgender people in the military service aren’t to be trusted. being gay or transgender is a threat to national security. being gay or transgender is a pathology.

this, coming on the heels of the just recently repealed DADT bill, and the years of effort in advocacy on the part of transgender people to have gender identity diversity removed from the list of mental diseases in the DSMV, is clearly NOT a good thing!

tho, i truly hope that justice can be gotten for bradley manning, who is, when all is taken into account, a great american hero and patriot for his actions in trying to reveal the ways in which this country, the country that he defended, has gone astray, it seems unlikely that THIS defense will do anybody any good.

those who have opposed repealing DADT will have ammunition behind their bigotry, those who seek to see transgender people as weak-minded or sick will have all the affirmation they could hope for in the defense strategy being put forth, and likely it wont save bradley manning either.

so at what cost? this defense strategy.

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free at last?

it is the designated day for celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, and all day long i have been wondering about what it means to be free at last.

as Dr. King pointed out in his speech that day, one hundred years after slavery had been defeated, the ‘negro’ was still not free.

fast forward another handful of decades and even tho a black president resides in the white house, how much has really changed?

there are a disproportionate number of blacks as compared with white folk imprisoned in the united states. often a black and a white person found guilty of the same crime will be treated differently, the white guy might even get off entirely.

there are a disproportionate number of blacks as compared to white folk who live in poverty, in slums. a disproportionate number of people of color in general, who are sent to fight our wars or who struggle with the inequities of the society of which they are a part.

and if they are ever allowed to be truly free some day and equal, there are no end of other people within this same society that will still be left struggling with similar inequities, struggling for the reality of being truly “free at last”.

white as i am, i am NOT going to try to appropriate in the slightest part the legacy of this great american, this martyr to the cause of a sane and equal world, there seem to be a few correlations between the history of the civil rights movement history with regard to black people and the present day battles that gay, gender diverse and transgender people must face.

whether or not blacks could marry outside their race used to be an issue…now it is whether two folk can marry within their sex.

discrimination against gay, gender diverse, and/or queer folk of any flavor still exists, as does racism…so when can ALL people, no matter their color, creed, sexual orientation, gender expression et. al truly be ‘free at last’.
just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, i believe that a society is only as free as its every member.
is it xenophobia? is it arrogance?

what is it in societies of humans that causes one group to assume a superior position to others, to usurp the power that should rightly be shared, and to deny others the rights to which they entitle themselves?

such behaviour seems unbefitting an advanced life form.