Rest In The Most Fabulous Peace, Nana

High School GradTwo weeks and one day ago, I talked to my mom (C.J.’s Nana Grab Bags) on the phone a little before dinnertime. I called her to announce that C.J. had finally lost the first of his top two front teeth. That tooth had hung on for way too long and she cheered when she heard the news. Little life victories are meant to be celebrated with Nanas.

A few hours later, Nana passed away and I spent Memorial Day painfully and tearfully recalling every memory of my mother that I could conjure up, afraid that they would perish with her.

I would never wish a long painful death on anyone, but the shock of a sudden and unexpected death seems unfair too. I guess there’s no perfect way to die.

As my brother Michael and I left our mom for the last time, I leaned over her, kissed her forehead and whispered.

“I love you, mom. You are the best.”

Elementary SchoolIt was the first time she didn’t refute my praise. She didn’t say, “oh, no I’m not.” I wanted her to brush off my compliment. I wanted her to open her eyes. I wanted her heart to beat and her lungs to breathe and for the previous hours to have been a sick joke the universe would someday apologize for thinking was funny. If I was being tested, I wanted to pass the test and get my mother back.

We left the hospital and my body trembled all the way home; knowing that I would walk through the door and rip Chase and C.J.’s hearts in half quickly and cruelly.

As Michael, Matt and I told them that Nana’s body had stopped working, I looked into their eyes and watched a jarring life moment confuse them. I watched their sense of reality go into a dizzying spiral.

First BdayThey had seen Nana three days earlier. We ate Chinese food and saw Annie at the local performing arts center. She was happy and smiling in a blue sequined top and her favorite perfume.

For a second, Chase thought we were kidding and C.J. struggled to catch up. And, then it started to sink in.

“Can we see her again and say goodbye?” they asked.

“I’m so sorry, but you can’t,” we said.

“Who’s going to play dress up with me and let me do their makeup and do crafts with me?” C.J. cried.

“We all do those things with you and we will never stop,” we promised.

“It’s not the same. It’s not Nana,” he said.

High SchoolThe rest of that day and the next passed, though I have little recollection. We began planning Nana’s Celebration of Life and explained the event’s significance to C.J. and Chase.

“What are we going to wear to the Celebration of Life?” C.J. asked immediately, because even when grieving he is concerned about fashion.

“I’m wearing a tie,” said Chase, who loves any excuse to wear a tie.

“I want to be a girl at Nana’s Celebration of Life. I want to wear a dress. That’s how Nana would want me,” he declared and asked if we could go shopping. I promised him we would.

“Will everyone at the Celebration of Life know that I’m gender nonconforming?” he asked.

“No.”  I waited for the usual self-editing and deep consideration about his gender expression around new people to begin.

“I don’t care,” he said. “I’m wearing a dress.”

And, so we went shopping for a dress for my son to wear to my mother’s funeral.

To be continued…

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Amazing Resource for People Who Are Transgender or Gender Expansive and Their Loved Ones

OTLO-Cover-ImageI recently had the honor of working with PFLAG on their new publication titled Our Trans Loved Ones. It’s an amazing resource for parents, families and friends of people who are transgender and gender expansive.

Our Trans Loved Ones is free and includes a wealth of information, first-person stories, expert input and more.

Download it, love it and share it.


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How I Told My Son His Friends Are Transgender

Photo Creds: Bestie Best Kelly

Photo Creds: Bestie Best Kelly

I still remember the day when I sat in my 7-year-old son’s bedroom and told him that his 9-year-old friend Samuel was no longer a boy, but was now a girl named Sophia.

My son, C.J., didn’t say much at first. Which is how most people react when they hear news that they weren’t expecting.

Months later, I sat in the same spot and told him that his 8-year-old friend Riley was no longer a boy, but was now a girl named Anna…..

Read the rest of my post over at Yahoo! Parenting.

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“How To Drive Your Mom Crazy,” By C.J.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms and female primary caregiver adults out there!!  Just in time for the holiday, C.J. has written instructions for how to drive your mom crazy. xoxo, Lori


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My Sons’ Reaction To Bruce Jenner


Photo Creds: ABC News

Matt and I decided to watch the Bruce Jenner’s 20/20 interview with our sons. And, we’re so glad we did because it was really great, respectful and educational. We didn’t make a big announcement; we just turned on the television while they were in the room, like we often do.

C.J. sat on the floor playing Lego Elves; Chase was in our over-sized chair playing his Nintendo 3DS. Born into a generation of multitaskers, they were each doing their own thing while listening to our thing.

“Is he transgender?” they both asked as the show got underway.

“We don’t know. Maybe he’ll tell us now,” I said.

As Matt and I watched, the boys gave half of their attention to Bruce and half to themselves.

During the interview, ABC showed a Saturday Night Live clip poking fun at Bruce’s gender expression.

“Awww, that wasn’t nice!” Chase said, not looking up from his game.

When Bruce’s sister was interviewed, she said she cried after Bruce first told her about his gender struggle. She said she didn’t understand at first.

“Well you should understand it! It’s your brother! It’s your family!” C.J. yelled at the TV.

“Sometimes people don’t understand, even family members and friends,” Matt explained.

Diane Sawyer and Bruce both said that Bruce will emerge as “Her” – expressing more or entirely as female — when the time feels right.

“I can’t wait to see her!” C.J. exclaimed giddily.

“Yeah, why is he not a girl yet?” C.J. asked impatiently.

“Because he’s taking his time,” Matt says.

When the interview was almost over, C.J. looked up from his LEGOS and said very seriously…

“I’m going to be a boy my whole life.”

“Okay,” Matt and I said in unison.

“But, you know if doesn’t matter to us if you are a boy or a girl. That we love you no matter what,” I said.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” he mumbled.

Our unconditional, nonjudgmental, totally supportive love bores C.J. now. But, at least he knows it’s there for him.

When the interview was over we paused the TV.

“What are your final thoughts on that?” I asked both of the boys.

“I wish he didn’t have to wait to transition until he’s so old,” Chase said.

“I want a snack,” C.J. said.

And, with that, out teaching moment came to an end.

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C.J. Is Banana Man

IMG_4467I’m lucky to have two kids who love each other, mostly get along, play well together and sometimes hold hands when no one is looking.

Lately, their favorite way to pass time is to jump on our trampoline together. Even though C.J. would prefer to take turns performing mini choreographed gymnastics routines for each other, Chase more often than not convinces him to play “superheroes.” I’m not sure what all the game entails, but I do know that they each pick a superhero to portray. Chase is always Captain America and, because he is unfamiliar with mainstream superheroes, C.J. has made up his own.

C.J. is Banana Man.

Me: What are Banana Man’s superpowers?

C.J.: I can shoot bubblegums out of my mouth. And if I touch stuff my sticker power is activated and whatever I touch gets covered with stickers. And I can turn things rainbow colored. And I can have a Super Jump.

Me: What’s a Super Jump?

C.J.: I jump really high and when I land on the ground people fall like they can’t walk in high heels.

Me: What outfit does Banana Man wear?

C.J.: It changes every day. But sometimes I only wear underwear while fighting bad guys because I can’t handle the pressure of picking out an outfit every day.

Me: And who are these bad guys you fight?

C.J.: Chase when he’s Captain America, that’s why it’s okay if I’m only in my underwear, because he’s seen me in my underwear before.

Me: What does Banana Man like to eat?

C.J.: Cookies with milk and bananas and donuts and pickles.

Me: What does Banana Man hate to eat?

C.J.: Chicken and French fries and tires.

Me: Well, that makes sense.

C.J.: Maybe I’ll pick out one outfit that Banana Man mostly wears so I don’t have to feel pressured picking out a new outfit every day. Can you hold on a minute?

Me: Sure.

And, then he returned as Banana Man…

Banana Man!

Banana Man!

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Her Name Was Taylor

Photo Cred: Yahoo! Parenting via xxtayloralesanaxx/Instagram)

Photo Cred: Yahoo! Parenting via xxtayloralesanaxx/Instagram

My heart is sad today for 16-year-old Taylor Alesana of Fallbrook, California. Taylor, a transgender high school student, committed suicide after being bullied and harassed at school.

“When you’re a kid, parents always tell you sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you,” Taylor said. “To me that’s not true. Words hurt, and words turn up to threats and threats turn up to physical violence.”

Popular for her YouTube make-up tutorials, Taylor encouraged other transgender teens to protect themselves by reporting bullying to school administrators and law enforcement.  She had followed her own advice and was also seeking support at the North County LGBTQ Resource Center.

The sadness in my heart shares space with anger. Taylor lived just one hour from my home; so, as a fellow Californian, I can tell you that the California Department of Education did nothing to help Taylor.

California’s safe school laws are comprehensive and advanced in comparison to other states. California leads the nation in establishing laws to protect perceived and confirmed LGBTQ kids and, then, the state fails these kids miserably by not enforcing the laws.

The California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity was created to investigate complaints of bullying and discrimination throughout California and enforce the state’s excellent safe school laws and education codes.

BUT, the California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity has not investigated a single claim of discrimination filed by or on behalf of students across the state. The office’s failure to enforce anti-bullying laws has resulted in dangerous, system-wide ignorance and unaccountability in California’s schools. The Education Office of Equal Opportunity doesn’t even log or track appeals.

The on-going systemic failure is detailed in the scathing 2013 California State Auditor’s Office’s report summarized here:

Read more about The California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity’s failures in a blog post I wrote following the suicide of 12-year-old Californian Ronin Shimizu in December.

If you want to do something to help LGBTQ kids and their families in California, please email and/or phone State Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s office and let him know that ignoring the situation at California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity is dangerous and must stop. Please join me in demanding that California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity be restructured, appropriately resourced and that it become computerized now…before we lose one more young person. Torlakson can be reached at 916-319-0800

If you or a young LGBTQ person you know is thinking about suicide, please call The Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. For adults over the age of 24, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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