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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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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what is a girl?

today my seventy-four year old mother…precious to me as my own life, since she is why i have one, came over for a few minutes after Mass.

she saw the critter container on the table and asked what was inside of it ‘this time’…to which i replied, ‘oh, zion found a black slug’

‘boys!’ she said.

and i reminded her that zion is a girl, and that she appears to be a girl much like the one i was when that age.

not afraid of bugs, or snakes. climbing trees, skinned knees…a tomboy, they called me.

later on in life when i chose woman as lovers more often than men, no one was very surprised.

zion is exactly what a girl that is true to herself can be. the fact that she likes monster movies as much as she likes her hannah montana dolls, takes nothing away from her feminine-ness.

i lusted after my brother’s christmas gifts when they got the hot wheels i wanted, and i got a vanity table or doll. (except poor pitiful pearl! that doll i really wanted!)

zion has told me that she wants to be with women when she is grown and after her surgery to become all girl.

guess she’s a lesbian trapped in a boy’s body…i used to date a woman like that, half my current life-span ago.