David Burtka + Lori Duron = Raising My Rainbow Audiobook

Guess what happens on Tuesday?  The audiobook version of Raising My Rainbow will be released by Audible!

Guess who the narrator is?  Me!

I’m grateful that Audible allowed me to narrate the book. It would have been weird to hear someone else owning the words I wrote about my family.  (I just had to get over hating the sound of my own voice.)

Here’s an excerpt from the book before it is released:

Guess who narrated the audiobook’s foreword?  The one and only David Burtka!  I’m forever thankful for the support I’ve received from the Burtka Harris family.  (I like David’s voice much more than my own.)

Listen to David read the book’s foreword here:

   

And, audible has named Raising My Rainbow an “Editors Select” book for May 2014.  Here, my editor explains why it was selected:

Editors Select, May 2014 – I have been a fan of Lori Duron and her blog, Raising My Rainbow, for a few years now. When I learned that Audible Studios was producing her book based on her blog, I jumped at the chance to review it. Duron’s book (and blog) shares her and her husband’s funny, heartwarming, and at times heartbreaking experiences in raising a gender nonconforming son. C.J., their youngest son, is a boy who prefers stereotypical girl things – girl toys, girl activities, girl clothes. I’m not a parent, but the open and honest way that Duron writes about her family, and in particular C.J., is utterly engaging, and provides excellent advice and life lessons for any human being. Narrated by Duron herself, Raising My Rainbow is full of content that never appeared on her blog – more hilarious C.J. stories, more of her and her husband’s struggles with their parenting decisions, and even a disturbing account of bullying experienced by their older son. This brave memoir teaches that it’s important to fully love the people in your life…no matter what. —Katie, Audible Editor

You can pre-order the audiobook now by clicking here .  (You don’t need to have an Audible.com subscription to purchase the book.)  

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Tuesday Fodder: Tom Goss, Illuminate the Dark Edition

Things that recently caught and held my attention…

You have got to watch the latest music video from indie musician and human rights activist Tom Goss.  Illuminate the Dark shows that beauty takes many forms and that each individual possesses the ability to be vibrant. With the video, Goss hopes to “help people see one another through the eyes of those that love them.  People judge others all of the time, but if we take the time to see people as their mother, lover or sister sees them, we will begin to see what makes each individual dynamic and beautiful.” Look for an appearance by yours truly, a fabulous redhead and an awesome big brother. 

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This Sunday, I’ll be at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City as part of a panel discussing gender.

What does it mean to be transgender? Gender nonconforming? Gender creative? Genderqueer? What is the gender spectrum and how does it affect the way we live, the language we use, the laws we need, and even our social media interactions?”

Join us to learn from a panel of experts, who became experts through their own personal experiences, including:

  • Lori Duron, author/blogger, RAISING MY RAINBOW
  • Marsha Aizumi, author, TWO SPIRITS, ONE HEART
  • Aiden Aizumi, educator/advocate

Bring your questions, your openness, and your willingness to learn! We will work to create a safe environment where there are no dumb questions!

Click here to learn more about the event, which starts at noon, is free and open to all.

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I’ve been named one of BlogHer’s 2014 Voices of the Year! BlogHer, a 100 million-strong blogging community, received thousands of submissions and selected my blog post “When The Boys’ Room Isn’t Safe For A Boy “ as a winner in the “Heart” category. As a result, WordPress Freshly Pressed the same blog post. Thanks BlogHer and WordPress! Click here to read more and learn who my fellow 2014 Voices Of The Year are.

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The amazing people behind Camp Aranu’tiq (a camp for transgender and gender variant youth ages eight and older and their families) have announced a new fun-filled weekend camp for LGBTQ parents/guardians and their children of any age. Extended family members are welcome, too! Click on a camp name to learn more about Camp Aranu’tiq and/or the LGBTQ Family Camp.

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Headlines…

Title IX protects transgender students, federal agency says 

Parents of young boy in England pulling their child out of an after school club because the club won’t let him wear dresses

The Lord Looks At The Heart: When My Son Became My Daughter

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I hope all of you mothers and adults who mother a child had a very happy Mother’s Day.  C.J. made me a card at school that says he loves me most when I’m cleaning the house. So, there’s that.

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My 10 Year Old Downloaded Grindr

“This app is taking forever to load,” my 10-year-old son Chase said as I was driving. It was just the two of us in the car and he was fiddling with his iPhone*.

“What app is it?” I asked. He isn’t supposed to download anything unless he has our permission.

“It’s called Grindr,” he said. I nearly crashed the car.

iPhone5_Splash“You can’t download that,” I said quickly, full of panic and resisting the urge to reach over and snatch the phone out of his hands. I was certain the app would load faster than any app has loaded in the history of all apps and his profile would be automatically complete and naked selfies of men would flood his phone and his brain.

“I can download it; it’s just taking forever,” he said.

“No. I mean you aren’t allowed to download it. I’m saying no. You’re not old enough and, besides, you didn’t ask for permission.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. He hates even remotely feeling like he is somewhat near being in trouble.

“It’s okay. Why do you want to download that app anyway?” My panic was fading a little.

“I was looking through lists of the top iPhone apps and I saw that they had a list of the top LGBT apps and that’s so cool that they even have LGBT apps. I wanted to show my support and Grindr was the top LGBT app, so I wanted to download it to show my support for everybody who is LGBT and let Apple know that they should make more LGBT apps,” he explained.

Chase is the best person I know. When he’s old enough, and if he goes that route, some person on a dating app would be lucky to meet him.

“That’s very sweet. That app is for adult gay men who are looking for friends and boyfriends,” I explained.

“That’s cool,” he said.

I reminded him about the rules that came with his phone – including no downloading apps without approval from Matt or me.

Later, when we had a moment to ourselves, I told Matt that our son was loading Grindr to his phone.

“WHAT!?”

Then, I called my brother to tell him.

“WHAT?!

Chase had the best intentions in mind…and he had a $30 iTunes gift card burning a hole in his pleather wallet. You see, Chase’s birthday is today, May 7. My first-born son, the one who made me a mother, is 11 now. Yesterday I took him on a lunch date. I watched him eat his hamburger. I just stared and stared and stared. He is beautiful to me. I could watch him forever. But he doesn’t want me to. I embarrass him.

He’s a tween. He has a playoff football game this weekend. After much prodding, he asked for a leather jacket and a coffee mug for his birthday. He wants steak for dinner. I took him to buy new sneakers; he now wears a size bigger than mine. I’m helping him become self reliant, but dread the day he leaves the nest.   I love that he loves all people and wants to support the LGBT community. He just can’t show his support by downloading Grindr.

How would you suggest an 11-year-old boy who identifies as straight show his support for the LGBT community?

*To some, the fact that my 11-year-old has an iPhone will be the thing that sticks out to them most in this blog post. I explain myself only to avoid receiving a shit-ton of comments and emails voicing disapproval of this. Chase does not ask for anything. Ever. We have to beg him to write Christmas and birthday wish lists. This past Christmas, the only thing he asked for was an iPhone. We were eligible to get one free from our wireless provider, so we did. And, we gave it to Chase. He deserves it. He’s the awesomest. End of story. Thank you for your concern.

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What’s In My Son’s Purse?

C.J. is very nosy and always wants to know what’s inside other people’s purses. Because it is not okay for him to peek inside the satchels of strangers, I’ve started easing his curiosity by showing him the pages inside popular magazines that list the contents of celebrities’ bags. He loves those lists so much that he wanted me to create one for him and share it with you. Without further ado, here is what’s inside my son’s purse.

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Purse: I made my purse. Well, I didn’t “make it” make it. I colored in the design. I like this purse cause it holds a lot of stuff and I have a lot of stuff to hold. I can also wear it across my body so my hands are free to hold more stuff.

Plastic Show Pony: I got this pony at Disney Princesses On Ice. It’s beautiful and pretty and special. I named it Uni for unicorn. Because it’s like a unicorn, without a horn, so it’s not a unicorn, but I pretend that it is.

The Cat In The Hat Book: I keep it in my purse because I really wanted it and last time I found one it was in Spanish and I finally found it in English. And, I really love The Cat In The Hat.  I can’t read Spanish.

Green Finger Pointer: I like green, it’s one of my favorite colors besides red, purple, pink and rainbow. I use it to point when I pretend that I’m playing school and I’m the teacher. It makes pointing easier. Sometimes I pretend to pick my nose with it and it’s green like boogers.  So, that’s perfect.

Tiny Plush Giraffe: Doesn’t he look like a baby toy? Well, he’s way more than that; he’s also a finger puppet! Can you believe that?!  So, I like it because his tail is fringy and I like his hair. I named him Bobby.

Fancy Lady Head Brooch: She’s diamond-y. Her favorite thing in the whole wide world is diamonds and if she got $1,008 dollars she would spend it all on diamonds and nothing else.

April 2014 017Gingerbread Boy: I made him gender conforming. I like his hair. I gave him green highlights. I like how I made his pants roll up at the bottom. I gave him a HUGE smiley face because he’s always happy like the song “Happy” by Pharrell. I think Pharrell’s hat is crazy-cool.

Pink Bag Of Coins: I want to keep them and save them up and buy something from miWorld. I also told Nana that I wanted something from miWorld so possibly she’ll get it for me and I can save my money. (Don’t tell anybody that this is fake money.)

Anna from Disney’s Frozen: I like her because she talks when you push on her boobs and stomach. Frozen is my favorite movie right now. I like it because two girls save the day and they don’t need a boy. And, I like the dresses that Elsa and Anna wear.

$5: I got a dollar. It’s actually five dollars. I earned this money doing chores for my Pa. I keep it in my purse in case I need more dollars and it’s special because it’s the only five-dollar bill I have. It’s my biggest money I ever got. If I did spend it, I would spend it on a time machine so If I didn’t want to go to school I could just skip ahead and skip it.

April 2014 018Fancy Skeleton Head: It’s a girl, but she has a beard. My daddy gave it to me when he got back from Mexico. It reminds me of Spanish.  My mom’s skeleton head will look this fancy when she dies and her skin falls off.

Harajuku Girl Figurine: Because I like Gwen Stefani and everything Harajuku. They are pretty and super sassy.

Brown Chair: I keep it because it reminds me of a chair at our house.

Fairly Odd Parents Doll: I got it at Chuck E. Cheese’s when I played one game and got 1,000 tickets. Last time I got 100 tickets on the exact same game. You should play that game when you go to Chuck E. Cheese’s. I like his hair. I think it’s cool that he has green hair and I like that he’s a fairy.

iTouch: My mommy gave it to me. It’s my first own electronic thing. My favorite apps are Fruit Ninja, Kick the Dummy, McKenna the American Girl doing gymnastics and any app where you make dresses and do makeovers.

Lip Gloss: Which I can put on right now (applies gloss). I keep it in my purse so that I can put it on when I need to. Like when I go to school. Sometimes I can wear my mom’s lipstick, but only if I ask. I got this lip gloss at Sephora. I love Sephora. You should go there. They have every makeup ever made.

Fake Rat: I use it to scare people. If they try to rob my purse they would see the rat and scream and stop robbing me.

Miniature Gumball Machine: It reminds me of love because the gumballs are heart-shaped and I love it and I love love.

Rainbow Dash From My Little Pony: It reminds me of my mom’s book called Raising My Rainbow.

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Will I See You On Thursday?

This Thursday at 7 p.m., I’ll be speaking at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, about parenting, teaching and promoting advocacy for differently gendered children.  The event is sponsored by The Center School and it’s FREE!

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Monte Belmonte from 93.9 & 101.5 The River had me on his show this morning.  You can listen to the interview here.   It was such a fun experience to be interviewed by a fellow parent of a gender creative child!

 

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Friday Fodder: I’m Speaking In Massachusetts Edition

On Thursday (April 10), The Center School in Greenfield, Massachusetts, has invited me to speak about parenting, teaching and promoting advocacy for differently gendered children.   The event begins at 7 p.m. at Smith College and it’s FREE!

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If you’re in the area, you should attend and introduce yourself.  I’d love to meet you.  For real.  Bring your book and I’ll sign it.  Don’t have my book yet? Never fear, there will be copies on hand for purchase.  Click on the image above to go to The Center School’s website.

I wish my kids could attend The Center School, which is a progressive, independent day school that fosters a balance of social consciousness and self-awareness in an environment where children are encouraged to be independent and resourceful.   It is the academic home to young deep thinkers and creative spirits.  I can’t wait to visit.  I love deep thinkers and creative spirits!

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Are you a fellow Orange Countian?  Tomorrow at 11:20 a.m. in Irvine, I’ll be speaking on a panel of memoirists at Literary Orange 2014.  Should I save you a seat?

 

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My Son’s Hair Stylist Is His Hero

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These days, C.J. likes to chalk his hair before school.

When you have a child with special or unique needs and a stranger treats them amazingly when they don’t have to, it makes you feel so damn good. It gives you hope and restores your faith in humanity.

C.J.’s hair stylist, Miss. Crystal, is one of those people.

We met Miss. Crystal three years ago. We hadn’t been to Cool Cuts 4 Kids in a while and decided to try it again after a particularly unpleasant experience at Hair Masters (during which the stylist was confused by C.J.’s gender nonconformity, gave him a horrible haircut and made us both cry).

We walked into Cool Cuts 4 Kids and C.J. saw the “Princess Chair” in the back, right corner of the salon. The Princess Chair has tulle draped around it and a pink canopy above it. It’s the station where they keep the hair beads, glitter, extensions, hair tinsel and clip-in feathers. The chair faces a Tinkerbell television on which the child can watch their pick of princess, Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake movies while the stylist works magic. I wish my salon had a Princess Chair.

Of course C.J. wanted to sit in that chair. The other stylist’s chairs had firefighter, police and video game themes.

The next available stylist approached the waiting area and called C.J.’s name.

“Hi, I’m Miss. Crystal,” she said with a smile that was for real. “What movie do you want to watch?”

C.J. pointed to a Strawberry Shortcake movie. Miss. Crystal was unfazed. She grabbed it without thinking twice.

“What chair do you want to sit in?” she asked. C.J. looked at me. He didn’t want to tell her that he wanted to sit in the princess chair. He was nervous about her reaction.

“Can he sit in the princess chair?” I asked.

“Of course,” she said, not missing a beat. Miss. Crystal is energetic and kind. She’s in her twenties and her hair has been several colors since we’ve known her.

Miss. Crystal can French braid short hair.

Miss. Crystal can French braid short hair.

For every haircut in the three years since that first visit, C.J. has sat in the Princess Chair and talked and talked and talked with Miss. Crystal. They giggle and gossip and it’s as if nobody else in the world exists. I sit on the nearby bench reading Us Magazine, happily feeling like the third wheel.

Miss. Crystal knows all about C.J. She knows that he just had a birthday party at the American Girl Doll store; that he was Frankie Stein one year for Halloween, then a fairy and, most recently, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland; and that he loves Monster High. One time, she saw Monster High stickers while she was running errands and bought them for C.J. She kept them in her locker until our next appointment. Just because.

Miss. Crystal and C.J. share a love for all things Disney. Whenever someone mentions Disneyland, C.J. informs them that his hair stylist is a season passholder. For him, it’s bragging rights.

When we first started going to Miss. Crystal, C.J. was growing his hair out. She helped give it shape and thin it out so that it lay better. It was past his ears and on its way to his shoulders when he decided to cut it before Kindergarten because he was worried that he’d get teased. Miss. Crystal was afraid to cut it. She was afraid that he’d hate it and, in turn, hate her. She took off a few inches and swore that if he still wanted it short the following week, she’d take off the rest. She kept her promise, but was sad to see his auburn locks hit the floor. We gave each other sad faces behind C.J.’s back.

C.J. doing Miss. Crystal's hair.

C.J. doing Miss. Crystal’s hair.

Since then, she’s been helping us grow it out again. It’s the longest it’s ever been and he proudly wears it in a ponytail to sleep.

Miss. Crystal has given C.J. blonde extensions, a full head of magenta glitter and has French braided his hair when I thought it was too short to be braided at all. She’s talked to him about what it’s like to be a hair stylist. And, now, he wants to be one too. And, own a salon. And, work with Miss. Crystal. And, I’m supposed to make lunch for them every day.

Knowing this, now, when Miss. Crystal is done with C.J.’s hair, she lets him do her hair. During his last visit, he gave her the ponytails that she requested. Doing her hair is the favorite part of his hair appointment. It’s my favorite part, too.

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