Archive | April, 2012

The Gender Book!

26 Apr

The Gender Book


Click on the link above to read the book online!

14 Reasons Why It’s Not Okay to Out Someone as Trans

26 Apr

Here is an article that is well-written and so important for all to read. Yes, it may be “preaching to the choir” for some of us, but this article provides concise and comprehensible reasons that we can certainly be made mindful of and pass along on to others.

14 Reasons Why It’s Not Okay to Out Someone as Trans – A Public Service Announcement From Your Friendly, Neighborhood Trans Person

The Big Reveal

24 Apr

A Note Before You Read-

Prior to the experience related below, my son had explained to us that he was genderqueer.  Therefore, I reference him with gender neutral pronouns (ie they, their) in the story below.

Both of my children live out of state…my daughter lives a couple of hours north of my eldest.  It was in February 2010 and I was on a trip to visit them both and a spot equidistant between them.  When my eldest showed up to pick up their sister and me from the hotel, I noticed THE CHANGE immediately. My inner voice was saying, “Uh oh!”  :

Hair-the shortest ever worn to date-and a different, much more boyish style.

And the chest…I know my baby’s chest. THAT was not a C cup chest. That was NO chest.

I tried to keep the inner fear at bay.  I remember making a comment that I didn’t get why  their keys were hanging from a belt loop on one of those C-clip type key rings – never worn before that way. A sudden desire to look like a janitor? Now in retrospect,  I  commented about it in a  disapproving tone. (Nice touch since this  was the first time I was seeing our child after several months).  I asked if shopping was something we could do during this visit and my eldest said they didn’t need anything. Panic.

We moms DO know everything. We sense it. But we don’t listen to our inner voices nearly enough. It’s not as if my eldest hadn’t been building to this new look. Or as if I wasn’t clued-in prior. I had received countless pictures from my eldest in the months prior via e-mail- and in those pictures, they actually WERE sporting this new chest. However, I DIDN’T SEE IT! Or take the previous August. We had just returned from a family vacation with my husband, the younger daughter, the eldest and- the boyfriend!!! (this is the part where I need to digress and explain that the eldest had previously explained that they were queer and even though we had been told this, I had decided to live instead in “LA LA Land” and believe this was a heterosexual relationship!!!). After that vacation, we were informed that the eldest was changing their name from a female spelling of a unisex name to the male spelling. AND STILL I WAS IN DENIAL!!! HELLLOOOO??

Back to the February trip: after dinner, the three of us are cozied-up on a hotel bed chatting (like three girls would do, right?) and the eldest reveals there is something important to share: my eldest is Trans. And they have been living as a male and is being referred to by male pronouns and it would be appreciated if we could do the same. This is important to..to….HIM.

I cry.

I explain that I am crying because of the loss of MY dream…that I understand it is my dream alone- it is what moms do when their babies are born. Moms have a plan…and this wasn’t my plan. I explain I am crying because for 23 years I have related to them as a woman to another female and I am losing this. My eldest is more than generous. My eldest states, “I know you will have your own process around this.” I explain that even though I am crying, I only want my eldest to know that they are loved no matter what.

Our Disclosure Letter

16 Apr

While there were many friends and family members that we shared our news of transformation with personally, there were those that lived away or with whom we didn’t speak with often enough. So, before we sent out this year’s annual holiday card, my husband and I wrote letters and e-mails to those folks that we didn’t disclose to personally or on the phone. Here is a sampling of what went out. Hope it helps you 🙂

Hi _______________!

Well, this is kinda a weird e-mail to send- and I have been meaning to send it for awhile now…____ and we are guessing that it will be the first of its kind for you!- we sure the hell haven’t rec’d one of these ourselves. We wanted to share that ____ has begun to transition from female to male and has already changed his name to _____.  Through careful self-exploration, family talks, and therapy we have all come to understand and embrace the truth of this for him.
As you have been a terrific friends for years – friends that we really admire- we wanted to let you know.  _____ and I know this could be confusing for you as it was for us in the beginning. We would be very happy to discuss any questions you might have!

Our love and support for _____ is complete!  We appreciate your friendship as our family helps ______ through any challenge that may lie
ahead.

Love to you! _____ and _______

Nina Here Nor There

16 Apr

Here is an easy read that you might find as fascinating as I did! I found Nick Kreiger’s memoir to be non-threatening and honest. It was candid  and answered many  questions I didn’t even know to ask. Also helpful was his transitioning as an adult…this was a book I could relate to even though it wasn’t from a parent perspective. When Kreiger shared, “Although I joked grimly to my friends that you’re not really trans until you lose a parent…” it hit hard. My son was not about to lose me!

You can click the book to check it out more.

A Whole New Chest

15 Apr

I am in Florida and my son just had top surgery this past Thursday! Whoa! That is a mouthful and a mindful! When I shed my first tears just over a year ago upon his declaration of being Trans,  I never pictured this week! “We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” is a catch phrase that easily comes to mind.

Let’s go back a few months:  In January, I was checking in with my son via a weekly phone call from my California perch to him out of state. When I inquired about his health, I heard the familiar accounting of back pain stemming from his binding. By this point, he had been binding for about 2 years. As he described his discomfort, I pictured those illustrations of the effects from corseting in the 1800’s. Oy! He explained that he was worried about the coming summer months when this would become even more complicated. In wet and chilly winter months, he could wear a looser sports bra, baggy shirt and hoodie. Even with this “uniform” he was experiencing ongoing pain. But, as warmer weather was approaching, his hormonal transition was developing, and by the time summer would arrive, he would have the voice, facial features, and whatnot to be consistently “read” as male in public.  He needed the chest to match for logistical reasons, like being able to access public restrooms.  Not binding due to pain felt unsafe to him and like he couldn’t express his gender accurately; binding full-time would render my son hopelessly locked in pain and unable to live the daily life he loves: pursuing a career as a midwife, working as a doula, and most importantly, helping raise three amazing children with his partner (she has twin seven year old girls) and his best friend since high school (she has a 19 month old son). When I relayed my anguish over my son’s pain to my husband that night, he declared that we needed to support top surgery right away! My husband is my son’s step-father, so for me, this was an AMAZINGLY generous and supportive desire on his part! He declared the top surgery what it is: a necessary medical intervention and one that is a quality of life issue! When we told our son, he said, “You don’t need to do this!” But we insisted. Our son set out to do his research: to find the most qualified surgeon.

At this juncture, neither my husband nor I knew of anyone who had experienced top surgery- from either the parent perspective, or as a FTM individual. Out of nowhere, a friend inquired if my son was considering surgery because her friend’s son had just undergone one and achieved a great result (What?! You have ANOTHER friend that is a “trans-mom”?!!). Because God or the Universe works this way, Teri came into my life! Teri was open and honest. She shared her personal struggle with her son’s transition. She shared how she rose up to overcome her own questions to support the truth for him. Teri described in detail her trip to Florida for his surgery and the positive experience they had recently shared. I will be forever – indebted to Teri for her open heart and generosity!

Fast forward to this past week. As it turned out, my son chose the same doctor as Teri’s son had: Dr. Charles Garramone of Fort Lauderdale, FLA. (http://www.drgarramone.com/transgenderflorida/). My son and his partner flew in to meet me for a pre-op appointment on Wednesday. In the waiting room were guys from literally all over the world: Germany, Australia, and Virginia. Dr. Garramone has a fabulous and supportive staff and he is, himself,  a gem: warm, patient, and respectful. No wonder he is scheduled to perform 50 surgeries next month alone! After answering all of our questions, and with pre-op directions in hand, we were on our way! The next day, we were picked up at our hotel by the surgery center’s car service. The surgery itself was only a ninety minute procedure. Dr. Garramone, the anesthesiologist and the entire surgery center staff were super supportive of this crazy and very emotional mom!

Now it is day four and my son is doing well! Ironically, similar to the  back pain from binding, he is currently in pain because of his tight post surgical dressings. There are a couple of drains his partner and I have been emptying- but that has been very minimal. The dressings and stitches are removed tomorrow! While he can’t raise his arms or lift more than 5 pounds for SIX weeks (imagine puppet hands bent at the elbows held along your sides)…the worst is behind him! Soon enough, the scars will fade, and most importantly, my son will don any type of shirt with confidence- PAIN-FREE!

I am so grateful for witnessing this chapter in my son’s transition.

Audio

NPR Episode

15 Apr

You can listen to this episode of All Things Considered:

Two Families Grapple with Sons’ Gender Identity:  Psychologists Take Radically Different Approaches in Therapy

Link

WPATH

15 Apr

http://www.thegavoice.com/index.php/news/national-news/3497-wpath-ann

WPATH Announces New Standards of Care for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People

Some key revisions:

• Psychotherapy is no longer a requirement to receive hormones and surgery, although it is suggested.

“It used to be a minimum amount of psychotherapy was needed. An assessment is still required but that can be done by the prescribing hormone provider,” Bockting explained.

• A number of community health centers in the U.S. have developed protocols for providing hormone therapy based an approach known as the Informed Consent Model. These protocols are consistent with version 7 revisions of WPATH’s standards of care.

“The SOC are flexible clinical guidelines; they allow for tailoring of interventions to the needs of the individual receiving services and for tailoring of protocols to the approach and setting in which these services are provided,” Coleman explained.

“Access is more open and acknowledges transgender care is being provided in community health centers. This certainly makes it easier to access hormones,” Bockting added.

• There are now different standards for surgery, as well. For example, a transgender man who wants a hysterectomy no longer has to live one year as a male in order to receive the surgery. Likewise, a transgender woman who wants her testicles removed does not have to live one year as a female.

For people who want genital reconstructive surgery, however, the standards of care recommend living a year in the role of the gender they are transitioning.

• Another major change, Bockting explained, is that the standards “allow for a broader spectrum of identities – they are no longer so binary.”

“There is no one way of being transgender and it doesn’t have to mirror the idea of a change of their sex,” Bockting explained.

“These standards allow for a gender queer person to have breasts removed without ever taking hormones,” he said.

The WPATH conference in Atlanta, along with the Southern Comfort Conference and the conference of the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association, was a joint effort to show the world what is being done in the area of LGBT health.

But, Bockting added, the new WPATH standards of care also show the tremendous effort that transgender people themselves are doing to ensure their access to healthcare.

“Oftentimes the standards of care were perceived as a barrier even though they were meant as access to care for hormone therapy and surgery,” he said.

“The new standards showcase the important role [transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming people] have played in changing the landscape of transgender health in the U.S.,” Bockting added.

The First Recommendations

15 Apr

When my son told me he was going to start hormonally transitioning, I e-mailed the GLBT National Help Center and wrote “Hi! My daughter- going to be son- is trans and I need to find a support group with other trans parents as well as a therapist familiar with this issue…do you have links for west Los Angeles or South Bay … Thanks!”

I received an e-mail back with the information for the Los Angeles Gender Center:

Los Angeles Gender Center
1923 1/2 Westwood Boulevard, #2
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: 310-475-8880
Email: staff@lagendercenter.com
Website: www.lagendercenter.com

On their website I got in touch with a therapist, Susan P. Landon. She is an amazing person! Susan made time for my husband and I to meet with her in a very short time- after work, too.  She shared with us about a monthly parent support group and   recommended the book The Transgender Child.  (see Resources link).  If you are in the LA area, I highly recommend contacting Susan or another counselor at the Center! Attending the monthly parent support group was a key in helping me rid myself of the “aloneness”.

Around that time, I asked my son if he had any additional reading recommendations, and he e-mailed me back:

“Sweet!  Looks good! I do have other recommended reading stuff but I’m running over to a friend’s house, so will have to get back to you on this.  I think The Transgender Child might be an interesting read, but honestly, I think it’s better for parents who have young children, and honestly, though I now identify as trans, I don’t think I was a trans child.  I think I was a genderqueer child.  Two different things. Okay, well, we’ll talk more soon…
love ya!!!!!”

I wrote:  “I see…yea- whenever you get the chance to read something that you feel is a decent “reflection” of you, that would be helpful 🙂  Meanwhile- remember that I love you no matter! The most important to me is you talking me through this and keeping me connected to you- that is all I could ask! Mommy”

Shortly after he wrote back that we could start off with one or two recommendations at a time to avoid overload.  He sent me a link to a website and a link to a book:

Hudson’s FTM Resource Guide

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano

A Handbook for Parents

15 Apr

This was the book our therapist recommended.  It’s a great start.  I found helpful suggestions when my husband and I were trying to figure out how best to disclose the changes in our family.  Click on the book below to order from Amazon.