Family Stuff



Field Notes In/On Transition.

Family Stuff

I really don’t know how to write this yet. So I’m just going to blurt it all out and see if by writing it out... if I can’t gain some insight, myself.

Why haven’t I been trying harder to make my transition more palatable, and understandable for my family and close friends? To a degree I definitely have been doing so with this blog, and with friends that I see on a regular basis. But I should have been more considerate with certain people, like my mom. 

I had a chat with my mom yesterday and of course the transition came up. My mom reached out to me and told me how hard this is for her, my transition. It hit me like a ton of bricks that I’d been pretty thoughtless to be all lalalala with this blog, and my pictures etc, without really trying hard enough to make this a bit easier on my mom.

I’ve been swimming so deep in my own happiness these last few months... and I haven’t been as transparent with my parent (pun intended) as I should have been. I should have sent her the books from Amazon (Transgender Explained for Those Who Are NotTransitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant ChildrenThe Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals)  that I sent this morning after our talk: like 3 months ago when I was really starting all this. When I realize this kind of thoughtlessness from myself, I plummet emotionally. 

I’m terrible at sending cards and gifts and keeping in touch with people. I rarely phone anyone except my mom, unless I have to. The phone and I are kind of over for some reason. I just always chalked it up to getting older and more curmudgeonly. But now I’m thinking that it was part of the whole downward inward spiral of denial and self loathing that I had been in since the mid 90s really. I’m a slow burn. I distract myself through reinvention all the time.

I’ve long realized I’m not a consistently communicative friend or family member. I want to change this, I also realize, as I’m writing this. I don’t really know how you make that kind of change in attitude, other than to take it day by day.

Of course she is having a hard time with this. Objectively she “gets it”, it seems, she’s a well informed person who keeps up with what’s going on in the world. And, I have been out with my trans issues to her for almost 20 years. But my own fears have always been of precisely this; that she feels like she is losing another child. For those who don’t know, my sister Carrie-ann died young in 1993 at the age of twenty, along with my niece Cheyenne who was just 20 months old. 

You don’t “get over” losing a family member, or a even a good friend. You grieve. You deal, somehow. But the loss is always there, and it’s a part of who you are. 

I am particularly in awe of my Mom’s strength in this regard. I feel she has dealt with Carrie’s death as well as any mother could be expected to do so, honouring and cherishing the time she did have with Carrie, and Cheyenne, and continues to love them and be their Mom and Grammy.

It makes me almost unbearably sad to think that my mom won’t be able to accept me as Josie.  Whether I am a woman (or whether anyone perceives me as such) or not: I am and will always be her son.

For me there is no contradiction here. I understand that for most people, though, that there is. I think it is extremely healthy for anyone who loves a Trans person, or any person who goes through a big change like this in their life... to grieve for what is lost, or to my mind not lost at all, but merely evolved, changed in configuration. My atoms are my atoms, whether they compose an unhappy obese nerd boy, or a happy chubby nerd girl, I am still “me”, the exact same nerd you’ve known all this time. I look different, feel different, but I’m still going to give you the same sarcastic, sassy friendship we’ve always had.

Not feeling like I could have my mom’s approval really is the main reason I haven’t been able to do this before now. I did not want to put my mother through another grieving process over a child. But I am doing this thing, and it’s kind of inevitable, and I think completely appropriate for a Mother to feel this way. She IS my mom. Her relationship to me is one that even I can’t really grasp, not being a parent myself.  

But also, I haven’t really given her the chance to do so either, I need to be more upfront and communicative with my family and my friends, and having become such a recluse, this process I think might take as long as my transition, or longer. Although having this blog, and the pretty constant interaction I get from friends, old and new on facebook, makes me think I might already be on a more open path.

I’ve sent her some books on coping with this issue, and links to a forum where people discuss being the parent/relative/friend of a Trans person online. I think it will help, but most of the responsibility for gaining her (and everyone else’s) understanding/acceptance lies on my shoulders in that I need to be clear, honest and open with her, and the rest of my family and friends as I can. 

I told her as we talked that I understand that she is grieving for me, and that I support any feelings she has. She should grieve for me but hopefully out of that rolling in the ashes; find some joy in my becoming the better, healthier, and infinitely happier me that I am already becoming. 

I really have absolutely no expectation that she (or anyone) can just accept this big a change with some kind of nonchalance. Nonchalance is not what I’m looking for in terms of support, to start with. Transition is a difficult complex issue for everyone involved. 

There are always a lot of people involved in your transition, no matter how self focussed the trans person may be. Many parents of Trans people disown their kids. I don’t feel at all like my mom would or could ever do that. But that doesn’t mean she will, can, or should just accept it all, oh so quickly. Nor should anyone to expect her to. Least of all, me.

Interesting side note... almost every single resource website on the web that I found for Parents of Trans people was about raising trans kids. While I’m really glad that kids and their parents can find so many great resources... (oh that this level of understanding had exited when I was young!) what about parents of 45 year old nerds? The entire world is child-centric these days it seems.

I haven’t even really talked to my brother about all this, as we aren’t that chatty to start with. But I’m starting to think I had better try to open a dialogue. I have been so upbeat about all the support I have been getting from this blog and on facebook, as well as from the people I interact with daily. 

That “other shoe” has dropped, I guess. All the pictures and words I send out to the ether about my transformation may not be enough to convince or show everyone, that, yes, this is who I am now.  This is reasonable. These things take time. I’m a only few months in, and very much trying not to rush things. My path is not writ large in stone somewhere, it is in my hands, like clay, rather, and I’m going to try as a woman to be a better son and brother than I ever have before.

I really do not want to feel ostracized from my family. But I don’t know how to, other than to express here and everywhere I go that I am just trying being myself, here. And even moe importantly that I have no idea where this is taking me.

After a lifetime of trying (pretty lackadaisically at that) to be some kind of dude whose identity was submerged in being a huge fat nerd who might be trans and or Bi, or gay, or....and yet somehow thinks they are someone who “knows everything”: I am slimming down, as my body mass reshapes itself... I am eating less, and healthier as I have progressed in this transition. I seem to have lost the compulsive buying and eating of snacks without thinking about it, or trying. Happiness is what defeats your self loathing behaviour, as far as I can see. Having a light at the end of the tunnel is an awesome thing. 

This is my first experience with having that kind of positive mindset. I had no idea!

As I slowly feminize my body, I’m feeling healthier, happier, more emotionally even keeled than I have, well, ever. I also feel more and more that Josie is who I am. 

This does not mean at all to me that Joe is gone, or should be forgotten. I kind of love attention. Likely, I wouldn’t be doing this relatively public transition, otherwise. 

I celebrate even the unhappiness of my past that drove me here. Because, well, it drove me here. I am grieving too, for some of the relationships, that have changed, and some of the things that were my crutches I used my whole life, feeling crippled as I did, by being “a dude”. Those things (food, alcohol, nerdy obsessions, are still in my life, but in a much healthier way, I’m not relying on them any more, but revelling in the moments of joy that they bring me.

What I tell myself everyday is that my world is changing, evolving, I already feel like there might be a possibility that I’m a good person deserving of love, and maybe even some respect. Less than a year ago it would have been impossible to say these things and believe them. Now I can, and do. 

So, for me this process is very different from loss. I’m not losing my maleness, (or my hair, anymore) I’m moulding it into something more comfortable for me. I might even become a grownup. I really hope that I can help anyone who is having a hard time with me doing this by writing this blog, being a bit more open and communicative with everyone. 

Comments

  1. Fabulous post! It seems that as your transition progresses, you not only learn more about what you need but about what others need from you. I am sure for so many transgendered individuals, transition is finally a time to think about themselves and their own needs (after so much time trying to fit into the molds others have made for them). It is inspiring however that you are continuing on your journey by also using this time to understand what your family and friends need from you. I am sure your mom is proud. Well done, my friend!

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  2. Wow! It's wonderful to be able to understand and learn from this blog about the transgender process. Good for you.

    - Lara Kroeker

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  3. Thank you ladies! I feel like I'm in school again myself, kind of.

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  4. This is by far my favourit posting of yours. There is so much emotion. Your mom may not always UNDERSTAND what you are going through, cause lucky her she was born a woman, and likes it that way. However she will always ACCEPT it, because you are you, and a PART of her. Just like she is STILL coping with Carries passing oh so long ago... it will take a lot of coping to deal with your changes as well. Its a biggie in her life ( as it certainly is in yours)... not "mom I'm moving" or "mom I've got a new job" BUT.. "Mom I am becoming a woman".

    You are so incredibly strong to be able to do this. I applaud your convictions, your tenacity and your ability to publicly share this with all of us. I love your confidence is going ahead with your changes, I love seeing the pictures... and I say YOU GO GIRL!

    The only question I have?..... When can we go shopping together at the V.V. BOUTIQE?????

    lOVE YOU MUCHLY.... Your Cuz... Barbie xoxoxo

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  5. Thanks Barbie, I appreciate the support and wisdom so much! I definitely would love to do some shopping with you, and i will next time I can afford to get back to Ontario (maybe next year, I'm hoping.

    xox love Josie.

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