Parenting is an extremely tricky stage of life. As a mother, I often feel like everything I am doing is wrong. You take one step forward and about 10 back. And this seems to go on EVERY, single, day. Kids evolve, we as mothers evolve, and the world and everyone around us evolves. Sometimes our expectation is that everything will stay the same but that’s not reality. As things and people evolve, parenting becomes somewhat more complex. It’s like an infant, we want them to learn to walk only to realize that once they do, all hell breaks loose and we have more chasing around to do. It’s almost difficult to see that there are accomplishments that take place in parenting.
Peyton is a very complex child. Sometimes he can even be difficult because of the comorbid disabilities that he lives with. Currently, we are not even sure what all these disabilities are. Sensory integration disorder, and severe ADHD seem to be most prevalent and what affect his daily life the most. This inquiry into his disabilities means that we must see doctors fairly often. And said doctors tend to use Peyton’s legal name when first addressing him. The latest doctor that we visited addressed Peyton by his legal name. This used to make Peyton very angry and he would scream at the person using the incorrect name. This last time however, he simply said in a sing song voice, “That’s not my name…”. His response was rather cute and the doctor corrected herself and apologized to him. We were able to move on without having to spend time focusing on this. This seems like something unimportant, however, it shows incredible growth in Peyton’s part. Small as it might be, it is an accomplishment.
Since coming out, Peyton developed an extreme hatred for anything girl. For example; the colors pink and purple, books that appear “girly” to him, girl shoes, girl clothing, girl television characters, etc.. Last week Peyton was playing dress up with his sister and instead of being a knight, he decided to put on a dress. He even changed his voice to sound girly and pretended to be feminine. To him, this scenario was incredibly funny. I asked him what was so funny and he stated, “I’m a girl”. Warning bells automatically went off in my head and I wondered if allowing him to explore his masculine side all these years was the wrong thing to do. I waited a while and then asked him if he wanted to be a girl. He laughed and said, “no I’m just tending”. His “tending” means pretending. After watching him a bit longer I realized that Peyton was genuinely happy. Not happy to pretend to be a girl, but happy because he is so incredibly comfortable in his own skin that he has reached an unbelievable level of comfort. He knows that everyone around him accepts him as the boy that he is. He is treated as the boy that he is by all those around him. Because of his age, there are no in-depth questions about his having a vagina, and he has somehow come to terms with the fact that he does not yet have a penis. In that moment it also hit me that I must be doing something right. I have a transgender son and because I made the choice to accept him as he is, he is an incredibly happy and secure little person. If that is not an accomplishment, I don’t know what is.
When the unexpected happens, fear creeps up as to what the responses of others will be because I have a transgender child. Living in a small town sometimes makes things difficult because in reality, close minded people seem to lurk in small towns. Luckily for us (Peyton and myself), we live in a small town where people are not as close minded as in other areas.
If you didn’t know, monkey bars in school are a dangerous piece of equipment. Well not typically, but Peyton turned them out to be so. He injured himself and required an emergency room visit, surgery included. Because he was born female and his female name is in insurance card, that is the name used when at the hospital. Through doctor and dentist visits I have learned that the easiest way to deal with this is to be as transparent as possible with medical personnel, and to nip the use of the female name and pronoun in the butt as quickly as possible. As soon as the opportunity safely arises, I inform personnel that Peyton is a F/M transgender child. Some people are initially taken aback and are unsure as to how to take in that little bit of information but are respectful of using the correct name and pronoun. Other individuals just say “okay” and move on as if nothing changed (and use the male name and pronoun).
We ended up in two emergency rooms that day/night. The injury that Peyton had required a visit to a Children’s Hospital for the proper care. So we were transported via ambulance. In all I believe we must have interacted with about 50 medical staff members and hospital staff. Out of all of those only 2 appeared to be bothered by the fact that Peyton is a transgender child. Even the ambulance personnel treated Peyton as a normal child. They joked around with him and kept him as comfortable as possible. Not once did they look at him in the slightest negative way. And even when they dropped us into the emergency room at Children’s Hospital, they lingered and were reluctant to leave. And this appeared to be because they wanted to make sure that Peyton was okay.
As I met more and more personnel, I had to ensure that they knew that Peyton has a female body. Peyton required surgery and his body would be exposed to nurses and doctors and I did not want any confusion as to who was my child. It is very tricky to be in this type of situation. The first few times (maybe 3 or 4) that I had to talk about Peyton’s female body, I was a little out of my comfort zone. I felt it had to be done and I wanted it in his file. The fact that Peyton has fetal alcohol syndrome and some disabilities makes everything more complicated. The looks I received for that were negative until I explained that Peyton is my adopted child. This means that personnel were far more judgmental about the possibility that I was an alcoholic parent than they were about Peyton being a transgender child (which in this instance was good). Eventually it became easier to discuss Peyton’s body with nurses and doctors.
The two nurses that were out of their comfort zone with Peyton’s female body acted in a very professional manner. I think it helped a great deal that I was with Peyton every minute of the 6 days that he had to be in the hospital. This meant that all bathroom visits were assisted by me. In the very beginning one of the doctors asked to check Peyton’s vaginal area but he refused to show it and here again they said it was fine and did not push.
At the end of our hospital stay one of the doctors came and visited us and shared that the Children’s medical complex where we stayed had a special clinic for transgender children. He explained that the clinic specializes in support for parents and children to help with the transitioning process. I was extremely thankful to have received such information.
To me this experience seemed a little bit out of the ordinary. I know that not everyone receives this type of care from medical staff. I also think that children are treated differently than adults in a similar situation. Children are treated in a more gentle manner. But as a parent, I think that those around me respond to how I react to situations. Medical personnel understood that Peyton is a boy because I repeatedly reinforced the pronouns and the use of his name. Though I was hesitant to talk about it at first, they also understood that I fully support my child. All of this helped them know that the only way to address Peyton was as the male that he is. I think things would have been a bit different had there been doubt in my stance with Peyton being a boy. Approaching this situation with conviction led to an easier process for Peyton.
As for Peyton, he was just a boy in the hospital getting his boo-boo fixed.
Sometimes as parents we have no choice but to take all of our children everywhere we go. This was the case on a weekend camping trip where Peyton had to join myself and a group of girls as we spent a few days in a cabin in the woods. This particular cabin had a single bathroom with multiple stalls, much like you would see in a target store. Separated from that are showers but everything is in one big room. I very, very closely supervised bathroom routines. This means that Peyton did not enter the bathroom when girls were in the bathroom and girls did not enter the bathroom if Peyton was in there. I guarded the door at all times. However, Peyton is 5 and like most 5-year-old’s, when you have to go, you have to go. There was a girl in the bathroom washing her hands and I asked her if Peyton could enter and go to the bathroom in the stall. Her reply was yes as she was about to leave and Peyton really had to go. Peyton quietly went into the stall and I stood guard. He finished and went on to wash his hands. Another girl entered the bathroom and she said she needed to wash her hands. I said okay to this. She however flipped out that Peyton was in the bathroom because he is a boy in the girls bathroom. I showed her the sign on the door which showed that the bathroom is for both girls and boys and reassured her that I was in there so it was okay. It took her a few minutes but she finally acquiesced and allowed Peyton to finish without further issue. This incident however left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. What happens when I am not there to help Peyton regardless of which bathroom he is in. The bathroom quandary is a very real issue to which there does not seem to be a right answer at the moment. And I am not sure why it can not be resolved. I do understand that there seems to be no easy answer, but, I also feel that something has to be done.
There are a lot of people in the world. Some of which have mental health issues as is the case with the little girl in the bathroom. And sometimes, there is no way to reason with a person with mental health issues. At times, their brain only sees one thing and there is no changing that mindset. Signs on doors however, appear to be something that helps individuals understand that yes it is okay for both sexes to use the bathroom at the same time. Things are easy at the moment because is just finishing kindergarten. But, what happens next year when he is in first grade or worse, what happens when he is in fifth grade? In a world where racial slurs and discrimination appear to rampant, how do I make the world a safer and better place for Peyton?
Support systems are at times ignored. As parents, we seek help for our children via therapists, counselors, after school clubs and such. But we often forget that we ourselves may benefit from a support system.
I am guilty of not seeking out a support system. One of the reasons that I have a strong dislike for support systems is that I don’t prefer to need help. As I get older, I’m learning that needing help is not necessarily a bad thing. However, my stubbornness gets in the way of my learning occasionally…. Friends and family often make a large portion of an individual’s support system. They are the ones that we go to and discuss events and changes in our lives with. And as much as they are great listeners and amazing helpers, sometimes there is a need for some outside help. This help disguises itself in many different forms.
Locally, there is a new group offering advice on how to help support those in our lives that may be experiencing some gender identity issues. I looked at the flyer and thought it would be great for myself to attend and see if I am on the right path to supporting Peyton as he grows and changes. Then I thought that my best friend attending it would be great as well. That then evolved into her daughter attending the group. Though her daughter is 13, I think it is the perfect age to learn how beneficial it is to support each other as people.
As I thought more and more about the group, I started to think that the staff that is directly involved with Peyton at school might get something from the group as well. There’s a certain fear that creeps up my body each and every time that I have to discuss with teachers and staff at school anything that has to do with Peyton personally. For me, it is incredibly scary to think that someone might reject Peyton because of who he is. I cannot imagine how this feels on a daily basis to those that are gender identity different from what is considered “typical”. With a large amount of trepidation, I approached several teachers about the group. While not wanting to know the answer, I eventually asked the teachers if they had any issue with the fact that Peyton is trans. Not an easy question to ask, and I’m sure it is not an easy one for some to answer. Religion, culture, traditions, and environment are huge parts of our daily lives. While I don’t think it is okay for someone to not accept the LGBTQ community, I do understand where it is that they are coming from. The responses I received were positive ones. That aspect of kids or people doesn’t matter to them. Relief flooded through me with the replies. Being 5 Peyton doesn’t quite see the looks and thoughts racing through some people’s faces. But at some point, he will feel the hesitation and the disapproval that some may have towards him and the LGBTQ community. Part of my job as a parent is to shield him from those feelings. Not because I don’t want him to learn how to deal with these reactions that will come from others, but because I want him to not have those experiences for as long as possible. He will have enough of them when he is a little bit older. I did not receive a clear answer as to whether any of the staff members would attend the group. Educators are often busy in the summer as they prepare for the coming year. I did however realize that these teachers and staff are a support system for me and for Peyton. They indirectly support me by being supportive and accepting of Peyton. For the moment, he is a “normal” kid living his life at school. The teachers and staff really try to make this aspect of his life (his school life) as “normal” as they possibly can.
Currently, these teachers and staff make it easier for me to talk to them about Peyton, not less scary, but easier in a sense. And throughout this year I have discovered that they are an incredible support system for myself and Peyton.
My advice to parents out there? Make the time for the support systems. They will ease the fears in your mind.
I’m frequently asked whether or not Peyton’s name will formally be changed from his birth (female) name to his male name. This is something that frequently enters my mind. When is the right time to change a child’s name? Having adopted three of my children, this was something that originally was thrown on the table. It seemed a little bit easier then. Having a child, and by this I mean a very young child as Peyton is, transition from female to male, means that as an adult, and the parent, you must make the choice of “when is the right time?”
I think of the day that we walk into court with our paperwork, and think of the questions that the judge will ask. Peyton is 5 so how do I know that he will not change his mind? How do I know that this is not just a phase for Peyton and he will tomorrow, want to be a girl again? I’ve talked about this in a previous blog. In all reality, I don’t have the answers. I can only go by the person that he honestly seems to be. At 5, he doesn’t seem to have another agenda. Sure, kids lie all the time and make up all sorts of stories. But for Peyton, being a boy, is simply who he is. I no longer see the little girl that he once was. He is still as beautiful as the day that he was born, but he presents himself in a different way now. His physical appearance has changed, and for his sake I truly hope that we can continue to change it until he is 100% happy (or as close to that as we can get), but he is still in a sense the same awesome kid that he has always been. It’s hard to believe that we will soon be entering the 2 year mark of when Peyton told me that he wanted to be a boy. And yet, here we are. And the time has come to go through the process of legally changing Peyton’s name. How do I know that this is the right time? Peyton is on a variety of medications that he takes on a daily basis for the other issues that he was born with. This means that I am often at the pharmacy. Insurance requires the legal name of the person to be given in order to pick up any medications. On one of our typical med runs I pulled up to the drive through window and drew a blank on my child’s name. For the life of me, I could not remember Peyton’s “legal” name. I asked for the medication using his male name and the pharmacy tech looked at me confused. She knew who I was, and whose medication I should be picking up, but again, legally I have to ask using the person’s name. My nine year old chimed in and said my son’s “female” name.
And that’s how I know that the time has come for the legal name change. The female name is now a distant memory of a kid that lived with us. Thinking about it this way makes it again sound like a child died. I suspect there will be some instances in our future where a sense of loss will be felt because the little girl is no longer here. But living this first hand, I realize that nope, I haven’t lost anything at all. As a family we are ever growing, and changing, and this is how Peyton is growing and changing and we are all there along for the ride and to support him however we can. Peyton is officially Peyton in all of our eyes, and now we must go through the legalities of it all.
It seems like the general population today lives in a world where it’s each man for himself (or woman). Everyone is concerned more about personal feelings then the feelings of those around us. Clearly this is not something that is working as humankind seems to be deteriorating rapidly with each passing day. And by humankind I don’t mean that people are dying but, more that the kindness in people is dying.
Last night I saw the movie, The Truth About Jane. It is one that I had been meaning to watch but was on the fence about it. It is not action packed, it’s not about sex, and there are no naked bodies on the screen. It is a little slow but not boring. In short the movie is about a teenage girl coming out and the reaction of those around her. And the reaction of all those involved are so incredibly accurate when compared to real life.
When Peyton first told me that he wanted to be a boy I was confused. He was such a cute girl, why would he want to be a boy? Instantly after that I thought, “What the heck am I thinking? I myself am a lesbian so why should I care if he wants to be a boy?” But being a mother means that the only thing you want for your child is for that child to be safe, and healthy, and you want to keep them in a bubble so that nothing ever happens to them. Having a transgender child means that they will go out in the world each and every day and be taunted, and teased, and even bullied at times. Images popped into my head of Peyton coming home bruised and beat up because of not being accepted by others. What if he gets killed because of who he is. So even I, in the very beginning, thought “Nope, Peyton can not be a boy.” Thankfully I quickly overcame my ignorance and decided to learn and grow.
Overcoming ignorance can be done. But each individual has to choose to want to learn and grow. I won’t lie, it took me about a month to start allowing Petyton to make changes. Peyton’s real life name is not Peyton. I use that name on here to protect him a little bit. He did choose his real life name but I chose the spelling because his nickname could be for a boy or a girl. At the time I wasn’t quite ready for my little girl to be a little boy. But I was willing to take baby steps to help him, and baby steps to help me change and grow. Change is hard, for all of us. I think that is called being human. Allowing is a very restrictive word for me, but as parents, we have some control of what our children do and not do. It’s part of that safety bubble that we want to keep our children in. So we allow them to go to the movies, or we keep them home. We allow them to stay up late, or we send them to bed on time. Parenting is very tricky. And here I had to decide whether I would allow Peyton to be Peyton, or whether I would prevent him from being who he is. I slowly began the process of allowing Peyton to be Peyton. In The Truth About Jane, the parents try to prevent Jane from being a lesbian. They send her to therapy, monitor her comings and goings, and almost send her away to boarding school. And nothing changes Jane’s feelings because she was and is a lesbian. This is the case with Peyton. There was nothing I could ever do to stop him from being a boy. That is who he is.
In The Truth About Jane, Jane’s feelings are shown as she feels hated and alone because of lack of parental support. Jane feels that her family will kick her out and hate her for life if she comes out. She even contemplates suicide. Growing up and being different I felt all of that myself. There is a large amount of guilt that comes from coming out and “letting your family down”. And getting passed that is an extremely difficult thing. I did not want that for Peyton. So I chose to learn and grow and accept him for who he is. Jane’s mom eventually chooses that as well.
Jane’s mom feels scared for her daughter, because she doesn’t want Jane to ever be hurt. Having a gay friend, Jane’s mom “knows” the “hardships” that can come from having a “different” lifestyle. Jane’s mom also fears what others will say. That she will be thought of as a bad mother. But moms out there, our children have choices and a brain and a heart of their own. We can steer them towards a direction that we feel is right, but ultimately, they will become their own individual and unique person. Our job is to love and support them so that they feel like they have somewhere safe in the world where they belong. And this is where we have to think about the feelings and emotions of others. Kids are important and if we put their feelings and emotions into play, we can learn a lot about them, and support them in unbelievable ways.
In the United States alone about 123 people die each day via suicide (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2018). Do you want a child or do you want a statistic?
If you or someone you know is considering suicide please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 741741
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2018). Suicide Statistics. Retrieved from https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/
It’s been almost 20 years since I came out as gay (I don’t like the word lesbian for some reason). Since then, it seems like there has been a significant change and increase in the terminology used to describe or categorize the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) community. Back in August of 2017, I decided to begin my studies for a Masters in Developmental Psychology. It seems pretty crazy since my life is busy all the time, but it seemed appropriate because of the needs of my children. My hope was and is, that I will learn enough to not only to better understand my children, but also help my children live their day to day lives more efficiently and more enjoyably.
This school session I am enrolled in a Gender course. Three weeks in and thus far it is extremely informative. The course text is from Vicki S. Helgeson and it is the 5th edition of Psychology of Gender (2017). And so the lingo that I have learned comes from this textbook.
Sex– This is a word that is often misused and confused with gender according to Helgeson (2017), and I have to agree. Oftentimes it is used interchangeably. But as explained by Helgeson (2017), sex is what makes an individual biologically male or female. When seen naked an individual either has a penis or a vagina. Historically, this was what determined one’s gender. However, sex does no longer defines one gender.
Gender– “refers to the social categories of male and female” (Helgeson, 2017 p3). Cultures and societies assign gender roles to males and females. An example of this would be a father that wrestles with his son to toughen him up, and plays with a tea set with his daughter. The same father would not wrestle with his daughter because this would be viewed as a “man sport”.
Gender role– In some cultures women must stay home and raise the children as well as take care of the house, while the males go out, work and bring home the money. These are the roles that I was raised with in my very Hispanic household. My dad would never be seen cooking or cleaning anything inside the house unless it was a task that was being performed to earn money.
Gender nonconforming– Are individuals that do not follow the typical gender roles that have been prescribed by cultures or society (Helgeson, 2017).
Gender identity or gender-role identity– Is how we perceive ourselves, whether it is male or female (Helgeson, 2017).
Cis-gender– These individual’s gender matches the sex with which they were born with. An individual with a vagina perceives themselves to be female, and one with a penis perceives themselves to be male (Helgeson, 2017).
Transgender– These individual’s sex does not match their gender (Helgeson, 2017). Peyton fits into this category (not that I like to label people). Peyton was born female but perceives himself to be male. He dresses like a boy, looks like a boy, and acts like a boy.
Transsexuals– Like transgender individuals, their sex does not match their gender. However, transsexuals go through procedures so that their sex and gender do match, think Caitlyn Jenner (Helgeson, 2017).
Gender fluid– These individuals do not follow any gender roles (Helgeson, 2017).
Gender hybrids– Are individuals that see themselves as both male and female (Helgeson, 2017).
Intersex– Are people that are born with both female and male genitals (Helgeson, 2017). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a common intersex condition (Helgeson, 2017).
Sexual orientation– Is not the same as gender identity but rather has to do with whom you prefer to have a sexual relationship with be it female or male (Helgeson, 2017).
Heterosexuals– In laymen terms would be straight people. Helgeson (2017) states, “prefer other-sex partners. (P 9)
Homosexuals– In laymen’s terms would be gay, lesbians and bisexuals. Helgeson (2017) describes them as individuals that “prefer same-sex partners”. (P 9)
Bisexuals– Individuals that form sexual relationships with those of the same-sex as they are or from the other-sex (Helgeson, 2017).
Sex typed– Males behave in a masculine manner while females behave in a feminine manner (Helgeson, 2017).
Cross-sex typed– Is “a male who acts feminine and a female who acts masculine” (Helgeson, 2017 p 9).
Androgynous– These individuals do not see themselves as female or as male but rather are a combination of both (Helgeson, 2017).
Gender-role attitude– Is our own individual perception of how another individual should behave, male or female.
Sexism– Is how we feel about “the sex category” (Helgeson, 2017 p 10).
Sex stereotype or gender-role stereotype– Little girls should have everything pink and little boys should have everything blue is a stereotype that fits into this category. Also, women are nurses and males are doctors is another gender stereotype (Helgeson, 2017).
Feminism– Basically means that everyone is equal regardless of their sex (Helgeson, 2017).
This list does not encompass all the terminology out there. Not past or present. It is merely meant to provide a general idea of some of the words associated with the population I discuss in my blog. Below I have referenced not only the Helgeson book but, I have also added the National Geographic 2017 issue which contains several gender articles, as well as the Time article from 2017.
Conant, E. (2017, Jan.). I am nine years old. National Geographic, 231(1), 30–47.
Helgeson, V. S. (2017). Psychology of gender (5th ed.) New York, NY: Taylor and Francis.
Steinmetz, K. (2017, March 27). A New Identity. Time Magazine, 189(11), 48-54.
I myself would identify as androgynous, or at least gender nonconforming. And I am raising a very strong, masculine boy that was born male, a female to male transgender boy that is still finding himself, and a little sassy princess born female that somehow wants everything pink. Only the tip of our eclectic family dynamics.
Peyton is now five years old. In a couple of weeks we will reach the 1 year mark of Peyton becoming himself. As he gets older, we slowly face more of the issues that he will have to live with for the rest of his life.
As his mom, my main concern is to prepare him for what the future has in store for him. Currently, I do not feel equipped to prepare him for his future. Some days I want to teach him that the world is full of ice cream and rainbows so that he grows to be optimistic about the world around him. Other days I want to shield him from what we see in the news from day to day. And other times I want to raise him to be weary of all those out there whom he might not be able to trust. I don’t yet know what is the correct path for us to take. Swimming leads me towards the shielding.
He is barely 5 and he is a boy in the body of a girl. Due to his developmental delays, he doesn’t quite understand that all those around him don’t understand why he has the body of a girl. I guess as any 5 year old he doesn’t understand why he should hide who he is. Looking at him I know that he just sees himself for who he is. Most days the fact that he has a vagina and not a penis does not bother him at all. However, I know for a fact that this is not the world that we live in. So we go swimming and he wears swim trunks and a swim shirt. Not that he has breasts to cover but, I want him to be used to wearing a shirt with his bathing suit to make his life a little simpler later on. Our brains seem to adjust better if we have a lifetime of training rather then when we have to make a sudden change, so we go with the shirt. After swimming, kids typically strip down and change into regular street clothing. In my eyes this is not an option for Peyton. At 5 years old, there are other kids who already tease, other kids who look and shame, and parents who are shocked that a little boy has a vagina. While all of this is ridiculous to me, it is the reality. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed of explaining to other parents that my child is a boy trapped in the body of a girl. But I think Peyton deserves the right to decide who knows about him and who doesn’t. While it doesn’t matter now, a few years down the line, when all of these kids are his peers in the classroom, it will matter. He will be the one to deal with bullies and with teasing because inevitably that will happen. So for now, I’m the overprotective mother who hides his physical body while allowing him to live the life that he feels best fits him. It’s kind of contradictory and I hope that, for now at least, Peyton doesn’t realize this. At no point in his life do I want him to be embarrassed of who he is.
First off I want to apologize for my hiatus, the children keep this momma busy all the time and have to be entertained with activities to keep their little brains learning. Sometimes this takes all of my time.
The nature and complexity of my household has lead me to searching for other avenues of schooling for my children. Currently, we are exploring home schooling. Before I am crucified for this let me say that we are a very active family in exploring the world around us and there is no lack of social interactions for my kids. They are involved in many, many after school activities and extra curricular activities as well. I began researching the idea of home schooling because I do not want Peyton to be picked on in school, but also because he is behind in school and I want him to be able to focus and learn in an environment that is better set up for his learning needs. My eldest I want to home school because he is also very behind in school and is coming home with some behaviors that I don’t want him exposed to at this early age.
In my search I came across a group affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church. Prior to this, I did not know anything about the Evangelical Free Church. Before I expose my kids to anything, I do my best to research it and learn about it. I contacted the church to inquire about it’s views on gay, lesbian and transgender people. The person I spoke to whom I guess is the secretary, though I am not sure, directed me to the Pastor. Both individuals were very nice and cordial and I would not describe the interaction as entirely negative. However, when I asked the Pastor about the church’s view on gay, lesbian and transgender people he informed me that they follow the teachings of the bible which state that marriage should occur between a man and a woman. I felt that was a pretty vague answer based on a book which was written by men thousands of years ago. I’m a writer, I know how writing is able to influence people’s views. And the bible is written by men according to how they viewed the events that were taking place at the time that they lived (and yes I realize that is what I am doing with my blog). The pastor continued on to say that the church provides those that are confused about who they are by teaching them the word of god per the bible. And, that there are passages in the bible that state that marriage should ONLY be between a man a woman and this is what is taught to all congregation members. Now, these were not his words exactly and again he was very vague but he lead me to believe that gay and lesbians and transgender, etc, we are simply confused and need to be taught differently so we follow “the right path”. I then asked about the congregation and he avoided answering by stating that he could not speak for his congregation as a whole and could only say that some individuals strongly believe in the word of the bible and others are confused and need guidance in various areas. I was simply inquiring and was not looking for an argument with this Pastor or his church and it is true that he can not speak for his congregation. However, as a Pastor it is part of his job to know his congregation and know what they believe and accept.
I had earlier contacted the coordinator of the home schooling group and had to leave her a message. She returned my call after I spoke to the Pastor. Again, she was very nice but informed me that their group had never encountered this “type of situation” and that she would have to speak to the Pastor in charge of their ministry before approving our application. In the end of the conversation, which by the way left her pretty much speechless, we mutually decided that this group was not a good fit for my family. I thanked her for her time and left it at that.
As I ruminated the conversation I became angry and annoyed. Here I am trying to do what is best for my kids. A school setting is not the best for them. There are too many distractions and there is a lot of room for bullying in there. The bible is thousands of years old and it is still around to influence people in such a huge way that they actually discriminate against individuals for essentially simply being who they are. I believe that people are entitled to their own feelings and opinions but only if this doesn’t affect the lives of others around them. This gets very tricky because of religion and church. I was raised extremely Catholic. I’m condemned to burn in hell because I have tattoos, I smoked cigarettes for 15 years and I drink alcohol occasionally. To top it off I’m a lesbian. That’s the household I grew up in, these WERE my parents beliefs. I know first hand how religion and the bible influence people. When I was old enough I separated myself from that and formed my own beliefs. Do I believe that there is a supreme being that created this world and man? Yes. There has to be something greater and more amazing than us that made this incredible world. At the same time I believe in science and evolution. And I also believe that the bible was written by men as they saw the world around them. Was there something special about these men? Sure, they were brave enough to go out and spread the word of what they believed in. They were also brave enough and smart enough to write down what they believed in. But their world and words of thousands of years ago is not the same world with the same words that we have today. Everything changes and everything has changed. Much like they wanted to be heard, we, the community of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, all of us, we deserve to be heard and to have the same opportunities as all those around us. Education is not something that should be denied to anyone for any reason. One of the things that the group’s coordinator said to me was that they had never been exposed to anything like this “situation” and she did not know how the group members would react. Exposure is what teaches people and practice is what makes us better at things in life. In the beginning it was not easy for me to call Peyton a boy. Sometimes it was hard for me to say his name. We have almost hit the year mark of Peyton “becoming” a boy. Through practicing calling him a boy, saying him and using his name it has become as easy as taking a breath for me to see him as a boy. Exposure is the first step in understanding and acceptance. There is no way discrimination will stop in our world until we all allow ourselves to be exposed to the differences within us that are all around us.
Why did I seek out this group? For the connections that I could build with other parents to learn and teach my kids. And they also take part in some very cool activities that I wanted my kids to be able to experience. Can I do this on my own? I’m sure as hell going to try. My kids are the reason that I do the things I do and their ability to learn and experience life is not something that I am willing to short change them on.
Little kids are amazing little beings. Most of the time, we as adults don’t give them a chance. A chance to talk, a chance to participate, a chance to experience or a chance to experiment. Often we think that because they are so little, they are not able to, in a sense, put in their two cents. I was that kind of adult for a while. I don’t think I was always that way. With everyone around, I always tried to be a good listener. But, one day it was as if a switch flipped and I just stopped listening to the kids around me. Peyton made me realize that this was not the way that a good parent should be. I listened to other adults around me, so why not listen to the kids as well?
It’s now been a year since Peyton began talking about wanting to be Peyton. In one hand it’s kind of hard to believe that it has been a year since that started. And in the other hand, it’s as if Peyton has always been Peyton and no one else. Seeing my four year old being so open about making such a huge change in his life to be true to himself made me realize that I wasn’t being true to myself. Nope, I’m not going to become the dad in the house or a transgender person. However, I realized that my surroundings where not exactly what I wanted them to be. Did you know that the average American household has 300,000 items within it? I look around my home and see all the things we have, Lego bricks, Squinkies, Hot Wheels cars, beads, paints, hair pretties… the list is endless. I actually think that we have upwards of 700,000 items in our house, or we had that amount. Seeing Peyton change into who he really is made me realize that I wanted to do the same. As a parent I want to give my kids the world. I don’t ever want them to feel like they want something and they can’t have it. But when does that stop? When do we decide that we are doing more harm then good on so many levels? I’ve slowly realized that this is not the correct way to be. All this time I’ve been so afraid of being who I want to be because of what others will think. I’ve always hated chemicals and medication, processed foods and all of these things that we buy at stores that cause more harm then good. For a while I even convinced myself that all the natural stuff was a bunch of crap that helped nothing, and I began enjoying all these “fake” things. I fell into the consumerism trap and the wanting to keep up with the Jones’s. Where’s the correlation to Peyton or the gay/lesbian transgender community? We try so hard to fit into these molds that society creates and puts out there, and we are so afraid to be who we really are that we forget who we really are. Kind of confusing isn’t it? I grew up thinking that the only way to be was straight, one man, one woman, the end. In high school I “dated” guys. In college I again “dated” guys. Deep down inside I knew I didn’t want to “date” guys, but that was what I thought everyone wanted me to do so I did it. I thought that I was supposed to like boys/men. So that is what I did. It took six months of living in Mexico for me to realize that I liked women and not men. Or not realize, but actually admit it to myself and then come to terms with it. And still I did not fully learn about being true to myself. We as people are condition to take into account what others think. So when it comes to living our lives, most of us go the route that everyone else takes. I hate saying that because I don’t feel like I fit into any mold but it is the truth. In my quest to be like everyone else around me, I accumulated hundreds of thousands of items in my house that I thought were making myself and my kids happy. Then Peyton made his change and I began to realize that we were not happy as a family with all of these things that we kept around us. Not only that but the chemicals and processed things were negatively impacting Peyton and his siblings. Now thanks to Peyton we are becoming more of a “natural” household. We’ve began the process of decluttering and Peyton and the other kids can use their imagination more. We use oils and make soaps and lip balms in an effort to decrease our chemical consumption. My extended family and some friends think I’m a little crazy. I knew that they would think this way and that is why I resisted being myself for so long. In the end, I realized that to be happy I needed to be me. There is a little bit of hippie in this Bronx girl. Now I am much happier and like Peyton I am learning to not see or hear what others think or say. He honestly has no idea about people think about his change and therefore doesn’t care, and I so wish I could be like him in so many aspects of my life. For now I’m gonna become a more natural parent that learns and teaches her kids from the natural elements around us. Who knows what other changes tomorrow will bring. Peyton teaches me to be more carefree with every day that passes. Is there any better way to be?