Archive | June, 2012

Understanding

26 Jun

Recently one of our readers here on Transforming Love suggested that while their mother was loving and supportive, she couldn’t understand their being transgender. So this got me to thinking, do I REALLY understand? Is it even possible for me to truly understand my transgender son?  I have come to the conclusion that we “transmoms”, simply can’t.

I am sure I am not alone in finding it tough to wrap my head around something that is so outside my reality. Even though I believe I have grown so much in the “acceptance department”, I do need to monitor my tendency to worry and fear what I cannot understand.

Since I was born cis-gendered (accepting and feeling comfortable in the gender I was labeled at birth), I really can’t understand what it’s REALLY like to have to wake up daily to feel like I want to be other than cis-gendered. I feel completely authentic and belong comfortably in the world’s binary system of male and female. I asked my son if he felt as if he was lying to the world?- Worse yet, lying to himself before he transitioned? To my surprise, he told me that he never felt as if he was incomplete and never felt inauthentic. His transgender experience is NOT CONFINED to appearances. My expectations of what he must be going through were confined to appearances- but HIS experience of gender is not.

Now this is a HUGE revelation to me. I thought if I could find an experience in my life that makes me feel dissatisfied, perhaps I could get closer to that understanding that we moms crave. I thought of my frequent visits to my closet. I am always asking- am I at the weight I desire? Do I like how that outfit feels or fits? How do I look? If you are a roller coaster dieter like me (same 10-15 up and back down again), you will recognize the discontent to which weight fluctuations can lead many women. If you are someone (like me) that is looking into the mirror and not finding the reflection of the 30 year-old they feel like they are internally, you may identify with some of my personal discontent. But here is the important distinction- I am merely dissatisfied with my appearance- I am NOT dissatisfied with WHO I am!

But then my son explained that it is not dissatisfaction with how he appears that brings him to negotiate difficult social waters. It is BECAUSE of who he recognizes as himself – his personal identity of self- that has him identify as trans in a world that limits and attempts to define him…BY HOW HE APPEARS!

I can be honest about how people “read” me because I align with the binary that defines me. Being able to do that fits neatly into what society expects. My presentation of self is AUTOMATICALLY accepted NO MATTER WHERE I GO! Aren’t I the lucky one?

I believe we trans-moms try so desperately to understand for our own comfort. If we can feel comfortable, we believe we will be able to more easily connect with our children in a way that we haven’t been able to thus far in their transition. We want to remain connected to our children- that is what mothers NEED. I am reminded of a study in which researchers observed mothers in a room as they casually chatted while their children played around them. The data found that the mothers routinely(and without realizing it)visually checked in with their children. Amazingly, the children would look up and make eye connect with their mothers and then return to their play. The younger the babies- the more frequent the eye contact between mothers and babies. Well, this “transmom” is trying to connect with her son, even though he is an out-of-state adult.

When connecting becomes a challenge, we moms worry.  But worrying makes us hang onto our fears. The worry clouds our perspective- it fools us into feeling that we are closing that gap- filling that place we can’t understand. Instead of understanding, we must satisfy ourselves with empathy. We have to wrap ourselves in trust.

Join me in this goal, moms: Let go of the worry. Limit the questioning. Instead, trust that our children know the truth for them. Dismiss the concept that we are capable of having to experience everything in order to connect with our precious children.

We MUST rely on our love. Love reminds us that nothing else matters.

 

 

Transgender Kids

26 Jun

I am now drawn to all things “transgender”…books, articles, television features. Here is a  recent
article from the front page of the Los Angeles Times (June 15). One of the doctors mentioned (Dr.Jo Olson) is the medical director of the transgender clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the “go to” physician for the children in our monthly parents/teen/children’s support group. For those of you moms with younger children, this may ring true! For others of us with later identifying children, it is just interesting to learn about one type of transition.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-transgender-kids-20120615,0,216229.story

 

The Transgender Athlete

26 Jun
Here is a link to an interesting Sports Illustrated article entitled, The Transgender Athlete (May 28). Amid discussion of where and how transgender athletes have and do perform,  it also highlights the work of one athlete in particular, Keelin Godsey who hopes to realize his dream and throw the hammer as a member of the U.S. women’s Olympic team in London. Enjoy reading!

Getting Comfortable

17 Jun
It has been 16 months since my beloved eldest told me he was transgender. Lo and behold! I AM getting to feel more and more comfortable with myself. I use the correct pronouns without concentration (okay, there are those occasional flubs…gimme a break…I am working on 23 years of habitual “she’s”). I no longer feel a sweat breaking when sharing this information with someone. Of course, I am always asking myself, “Is this a person who really NEEDS to know?”
I do not want to “out” my son just as a matter of conversation!! After all, there continues to be and always will be, a need for his anonymity. But there are times when people do need to know- usually for me, those are folks that knew my son when he was a child- long before his transition. They loved her then and I am confidant they will love him now. So, sometimes, I share about my son. After all, I am a proud Jewish mama…how can I not share about my kid?!
Last evening, I had several women over. They are active members with me in a group that meets monthly. We were celebrating our Board’s installation of new officers. There are so few of us active enough that are willing to do the group’s planning and executing of events that it is more of a celebration of “changing hats”. I mention this to describe that after six years, these are women I know well. The very closest among these friends DO know about my son’s recent transition. However, two other women that did not know about him happen to be sitting with us for dinner. One of those women knew my son in high school- as a girl. We had  each had two daughters the same ages in common at that time. Across the table she asked, “So, how are your girls?” The friends “in the know” whipped their heads around to me in unison. I smiled.
“Well, actually,” I replied, “I have one son and one daughter now. ___ transitioned and is now male.” I smile again. She emits a little gasp, eyebrows raised with eyes opened wide.
A knowing friend on my left says with a big smile, “He’s great!”
Now there’s another gal at the table- several years my senior- that says she finds this interesting. She shoots off a couple of questions: How old was he when he told us? Did we know before he told us? And then she begins to tell her tale: her son didn’t feel comfortable about telling she and her husband that he is gay until his late twenties. “It just was so hard to do back then,” she shared. Now all eyes are riveted on this woman in her late sixties who had never shared about her son with anyone in this group until now. One could sense that this wasn’t something she had the opportunity to connect around often. She told us that she had finally learned that she was proud of her son. He was married and she said, most importantly, happy. She stressed again that happiness was what was really important. The mothers of straight, gay and transgender agreed.
I am happy I shared with such confidence about my son. It gave this woman the chance to be open, to connect. I was happy that I conveyed pride in my son’s ability to be honest with who he is. And I am happy that others know that I stand with him.
The Dalai Lama stated, “It is worth remembering that the time of greatest gain and inner strength is often that of the greatest difficulty.”
“Transmoms”…go with your hearts. In love.

Love, Love, love this!

7 Jun

I encourage all of you to download the following guide! It is wonderful on so many level: it is a practical guide for those that are needing assistance in accessing the bathroom of their choice. It is important for all of us that know and love transgender folks- we need to step up politically and this can help us do just that. If you live in California, it let’s you know the law, while if you are living in other places, it provides an understanding of where you might begin or from which you can move forward.Gotta love the folks at the Transgender Law Center!!

Peeing in Peace: A Resource Guide for – Transgender Law Center

transgenderlawcenter.org/pdf/PIP%20Resource%20Guide.pdf