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Archive for the ‘Positivity’ Category

Today my family is celebrating TransParent Day. This new holiday was thought into existence by other trans people with children in response to a very real awkwardness our children feel when confronted with Fathers Day and Mothers Day. Sometimes they struggle with how to celebrate their relationship with a parent who has transitioned away from their former gender role – and we struggle along with them.

For our family TranParent Day came as a bit of a god-send.

I discovered the concept this past year (and I wrote about it here: Fathers Day for a Transgendered Parent), just after my kids struggled with whether or not to include me in Mothers Day, and just before they felt obligated to celebrate Fathers Day. I was personally struggling with the situation as well. Trying to play the “father” role was one of the most stressful and gender dysphoric aspects of my former life. Far from something to celebrate, it’s something that hurts to be reminded about.

Besides, my kids don’t call me “father,” or “dad.” And they don’t call me “mother” or “mom” either. They call me “nai” (and occasionally “mama”). But I love my kids as much as any other parent. They’re so central to my life – to my entire concept of who I am – it could never feel right to just do nothing to celebrate those special relationships.

“Happy TransParent Day!” were the first words I heard as I rolled out of bed this morning (delivered by my middle child, the 8 year old Mighty-B). Dinner will be one of my all-time favorites (coq au vin – the Alton Brown version). Then we’ll share a little pumpkin cake, because it’s a special day for all of us. It’s going to be a little holiday for the whole family, and that elevates the whole weekend in my book.

But more than all of that I’m happy to have a special day to mark our success together in navigating the gender transition of a parent while remaining a family.

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Strangely Positive

Strange days lately. Unexpectedly, I feel my life coasting into the decidedly non-turbulent waters of middle-class normalcy. This comes in sharp contrast to the previous years of inner conflict, massive depression, and social chaos caused by my pending crisis, coming out, and subsequent transition.

It turns out that, underlying all of the previous tumultuousness, the basics of my life are rather pleasant.

These days for the very first time in my life I’m able to spend time with my family at home while feeling entirely present and entirely loved. It’s an amazing feeling, none the less so for its seeming banality. Those of you who have known this sort of thing previously, please indulge me as I get to enjoy it for the first time in my life.

However there is a downside to all of this. Pleasantly banal lives lived in the enjoyment of ones family make for mighty good living, but not very good telling. The blog posting is certainly suffering. I’m not apologizing, just explaining.

I feel like I’m starting my real transition, which isn’t so much about changing gender as it is about changing my life. I feel like I’ve been suffering from congenital illness all my life and, while I believed I was in the process of getting better, suddenly I’m actually feeling better. The difference in outlook is striking.

There’s still a lot of sadness and anger in the trans community and I think I’m developing some survivor guilt about that. I’ve been there, and you don’t have to go back too far on this blog to see the evidence. But now I feel myself getting out… getting away from a tormented trans life, and getting into just living a life. I feel like I’ve escaped something horrible, and I wonder why I got to be one of the lucky ones.

Truth be told, I never wanted to be a trans person. I’ve always aspired to just be a person person. The trans thing was simply an unfortunate condition I had to deal with. And even though there is still more “dealing” to do, it’s feeling more and more like that’s just minor details. The main stuff is over. My “trans” life is being replaced by my “life” life.

None of this is leading up to an announcement of ending the blog or anything. I still have more I want to cover here, it’s just coming up less frequently. It’s sad but undeniable that it’s easier for me to write out of pain and torment than out of more positive emotions. But if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hang onto those positive emotions all the same.

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Progress in Higher Ed

How about a little positivity to cleanse the palate from last night’s downer post?

One of the things I observe often (at least when I’m not moonlighting as Debbie Downer) is how much things have been improving for the trans community over the course of my lifetime. Things really are getting better all the time. With all the attention the bad stuff receives, it’s important to take some time to celebrate the successes.

One that sticks out for me today comes from Central Florida University, which is currently debating transgender inclusive policies. The student senate recently voted to override the veto of a bill designed to include gender identity as a protected class on campus. The vetoing university official responded by scrambling to explain that she was entirely supportive of the goal, but the rules required another approach. Another official argued that the necessary changes shouldn’t need to wait for the bureaucracy so why don’t we just get on with it.

In the midst of it all, a trans student offered one of the most concise and accurate depictions of the trans experience I’ve read, carried by the student paper…

“Imagine, for a moment, living in a body that is not your own,” the junior biology major said. “When you try to live in a way that makes you feel comfortable, they say you’re wrong, confused, a freak. Transitioning is not for the faint of heart.”

This kind of love-fest over trans inclusion was virtually inconceivable in my own college days.

We’re only talking twenty years ago. Back then we didn’t talk about transgender issues on campus because there was literally no awareness that such a thing existed. Heck, I was a trans person myself and it wasn’t until after I graduated college that I became aware of the word transgender.

At the time the “GALA alliance” was the cutting edge on campus and quite controversial. A few of the more radical campus institutions were trying to press gay and lesbian inclusion, but mainstream organizations like the university administration and student senate would have nothing to do with it.

After reading the article from Central Florida University, I went back to check how things such issues have progressed at my own alma mater. The results were equally encouraging.

In a mere two decades since I was a student, gay and lesbian campus inclusion is taken for granted and trans inclusion seems bound for the same. This is important. People who are educated in environments in which inclusion is the norm are going to find it strange and backward when they enter non-inclusive workplaces. Social change will happen as a result.

Things are getting better for trans people, even if it feels like it’s happening at a glacial pace at times.

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