Our Bathroom Bullying Story, Actions to Take and FAQs to Know

tumblr_nj4n6trpbq1u3e2mjo1_500I’ve been an unhealthy mix of sad, disappointed, pissed, worried and ready to take action since learning that the Trump administration would rescind the federal guidance support for transgender student’s use of restrooms and other single sex spaces.

Being differently gendered, C.J. has been bullied at school – with the worst incident occurring in the bathroom.

He was in first grade when he peed his pants in class and sat in his own urine for hours after boys in the bathroom tried to forcefully see if he had a penis or vagina. Because his gender expression is feminine leaning, the kids at school had been debating which genitals he possessed. The boys in the bathroom wanted to settle the debate once and for all.

Read more about the incident here: When The Boys’ Room Isn’t Safe For A Boy

There are specific actions that you can take to support trans students. Here’s what I shared on my Facebook page after seeing it on a friend’s page:

faq-on-the-withdrawal-of-federal-guidance-on-transgender-students-coverPrepare) Know the facts about the withdrawal of federal guidance on transgender students. These FAQs are the best I’ve found.

0) Call your elected officials. This is Step 0 because you should already be doing this.

1) Write letters to the editor. Write your local paper(s) about why you support trans rights. Reference whatever recent news story catches your eye; right now this would be Title IX

2) Contact your local school board(s). Ask if they have trans-supportive policies. If they do, thank them. If they don’t, ask how those policies could be implemented.

2a) Work to implement those policies in your community.

3) Donate to orgs like the National Center for Transgender Equality, the ACLU, the Transgender Law Center, or other orgs that are Doing The Work.

4) Make sure your friends are doing all this, too.

Finally and most importantly:

If a transgender or non-binary identified student experiences discrimination at school, there is legal assistance to help. Please contact any of these legal organizations for assistance:
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) – nclrights.org
Transgender Law Center – transgenderlawcenter.org
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) – glad.org
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – aclu.org
Lambda Legal – lambdalegal.org

 

 

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My Son’s 10th Birthday Was A Drag

In some ways, C.J.’s recent birthday party was like your average 10-year-old’s birthday party. The birthday boy sat at the head of a long table eating something made mostly of sugar. Presents were stuffed around him. The crowded room was a loud mixture of music and happiness.

Then four drag queens took the stage and performed Peggy Lee’s hit “I’m A Woman” while my son cheered and threw dollar bills at them.

Walking to drag brunch. Hand-in-hand with his dad -- as always.

Walking to drag brunch. Hand-in-hand with his dad — as always.

“What do you want to do for your birthday?” I asked C.J. weeks before he entered the realm of double digits.

“I want to see my first drag show,” he said with a smile, squeal and fluttering hands.

I’d been to a drag brunch before at VLVT Lounge in Orange County. I emailed them to see if children were allowed to attend. Turns out, they were thrilled to host C.J.’s birthday party.

Finding a place to have C.J.’s drag birthday party was easy. Finding guests to attend was not. Not every fourth grader’s parents feel comfortable dropping their child off at a gay club on a Saturday for a party. I get it.

The night before drag brunch we had a cake for C.J. at home. He made a wish and blew out the candles.

“Do you want to know what I wished for?”

He always wants to tell everybody what he wished for. He does not at all believe that keeps the wish from coming true.

“I wished that RuPaul would be at my drag brunch birthday party!”

The next morning he put on his LED sneakers, jeggings, striped moto jacket, choker and cat ear headband. Then he sat and carefully applied makeup. His favorite eye shadow shades are Warning, Seize and Goldmine by Urban Decay.

Our small but fierce celebratory group met in front of the club. The final guest list included C.J., Matt, Uncle Michael, Uncle Michael’s friend Martin and two of my best friend’s daughters. We walked the red carpet and took pictures. C.J. felt like a star. He thought that everybody at VLVT that day was there for his birthday (even though they were there for their own birthdays, bachelorette parties, etc.)

VLVT gave C.J. a special necklace to indicate that he was celebrating something big. A decade of life!

VLVT gave C.J. a special necklace to indicate that he was celebrating something big. A decade of life!

The show got underway and much to C.J.’s delight one of the queens — Venus D’Lite — had appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 3. If you are in any way remotely affiliated with RuPaul’s Drag Race, C.J. thinks you are the coolest and holds you in very high esteem. The other queens were Trinna Modele, Dani Kay and Big Dee.

VLVT spoiled C.J. with the best view in the house.

VLVT spoiled C.J. with the best view in the house.

C.J. opened his presents. Uncle Michael happened to give him 50, crisp one dollar bills in a nice stack to use to tip the performers. To a 10-year-old, few things are better than throwing money at people.

"I've always wanted a huge stack of money like this," C.J. said. Then he had me take several pictures as he fanned himself with it.

“I’ve always wanted a huge stack of money like this,” C.J. said. Then he had me take several pictures as he fanned himself with it.

The queens put on an amazing show. Bless their glittery hearts for trying to keep it as kid-friendly as possible.

C.J. was pulled on stage twice to perform with the queens. Here he is with his favorite queen of the day, Miss Dani Kay.

Meeting and greeting with the queens after the show.

Meeting and greeting with the queens after the show. Who knows what he is telling them.

C.J. at Starbucks after brunch, checking out pictures on Uncle Michael's phone and wearing the wig his best friends gave him.

C.J. at Starbucks after brunch, checking out pictures on Uncle Michael’s phone and wearing the wig his best friends gave him.

“Going to drag brunch is exhausting, but we should go back. We should go every weekend,” C.J. said as I was tucking him in that night.  “Can you make reservations?”

I closed his door and thought about how far we have come in accepting and supporting his gender nonconformity. When he was turning three, we were uneasy and anxious when he wanted to have a Disney Princess-themed party and invite his whole class. Seven years later Matt and I both got emotional and beamed with pride when he was given the chance to dance onstage with drag queens.

We wouldn’t change our child or this parenting journey for anything. Happy birthday, C.J. Thanks for letting us grow with you.

 

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BOOK GIVEAWAY: One Of A Kind Like Me/ Único Como Yo

screen-shot-2016-06-24-at-9-28-34-am-270x300It’s time to add another book to your library!

One of a Kind Like Me/Único Como Yo is a bilingual children’s book based on the true story of a child named Danny who wanted to be a princess in the school parade. He and his mom embark on a venture to find a purple princess dress.

The book’s author is Laurin Mayeno, is the founder of Out Proud Families and the proud mixed-race mother of a multiracial gay son who was gender nonconforming as a child.

When my son Danny told me he wanted to be a princess for Halloween, I was worried that he would be teased and I would be judged. I suggested another costume, but Danny knew what he wanted. I decided to support him and we created a beautiful purple princess dress. He wore it happily in the school parade and kept it for years. Although I didn’t know it then, I later came to realize that having a gender-creative child was a beautiful gift.

Being Danny’s mom, I have learned to appreciate children who don’t follow expectations based on gender. I also have seen how pressure to fit gender expectations can make life hard for any child. We can help all children feel safe and accepted by allowing them to explore a full range of activities without restricting or criticizing what they do based on gender. We can also make a difference by encouraging children to be respectful and kind to their peers, and by letting them know that teasing and bullying hurt. If you have a child who doesn’t follow society’s gender norms, rest assured that you are not alone. It is perfectly healthy to explore different ways of expressing gender. If you have concerns and fears, as I did, learning about gender diversity and connecting with other families like yours can give you confidence and peace of mind.

Enter to win a copy of One of a Kind Like Me/Único Como Yo by leaving a comment below. A winner will be announced here, on Facebook and on Twitter on Friday (January 20, 2017).

Click here to order a copy of the book.

* * *

I posted the following video of C.J. to social media and forgot to share it here. It’s just another glimpse into what life is like raising a fabulous, spirited son.

Me: We’re going to dine alfresco and act like a nice, normal family.
C.J.: You can be normal. I’m going to be Beyonce.
Matt: *films while exchanging smiles with passersby*

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I No Longer Live Life Ahead Of My Son; I Live Life With My Son

img_5766Six years. It’s been six years since I launched this blog. My gender nonconforming son was three at the time. He was newly potty trained, loved the Disney Princesses and had a limited vocabulary. Now, he’s a nine-year-old fourth grader who loves drag queens, Andy Warhol and who talks nonstop.

If I listed all of the lessons I’ve learned during the last six years, it might take me another six years. The biggest lesson I’ve learned? To stop worrying.

I used to worry so much. As much as you all read my worry, you’ll never know how much worry truly engulfed my heart and mind.

I worried about what other people would think about C.J.’s gender expression and identity. I worried about what they would say to and about him. How they would react to him. How he would be treated at school. What his future would look like. What we would do if he identified as trans. What we would do if he came out as gay. I worried about my obsessive worrying. Sometimes I’d catch myself not worrying and then start worrying about what I was forgetting to worry about.

Then, our gender therapist helped me manage the worry.

Whenever I shared a worry with her, she would say “And then what would happen?”

My answer was always “We’d deal with it.”

For example….

Me: I’m worried the kids at school will make fun of C.J. for wearing girl clothes.

Therapist: And, then what would happen?

Me: We’d deal with it.

More often than not it took many more “And, then what would happens” for me to get to the “We’d deal with it.” But, I always got there. Always.

(If your answer isn’t “We’ll deal with it.” If your answer has something to do with being embarrassed by your child, loving them less, resenting them or wanting them to change, you need help. I don’t say it in a dismissive way. I say it earnestly. Please, seek help. From a supportive friend, a therapist, PFLAG, an online community, books, blogs, anywhere safe and trusted.)

img_6049So, if I’d always deal with a worry when/if it became a reality, then why was I wasting my time and stressing myself out worrying about it prematurely? Worry doesn’t prevent things from happening; it just prevents you from enjoying the good things that are actually happening.

When I stopped worrying, I started enjoying the colorfulness of my unique son. That’s when life got happy.

The beginning of this parenting journey and this blog was fueled by worry, wine and chocolate. My busiest blogging hours were in the dark of night – with the kids in bed, Matt at work and worry as my bedfellow. That’s not my life anymore. Thank God.

I don’t spend my days defensively traveling ahead of C.J. making sure the path is clear, safe and prepared for his rainbow arrival. I’m done with that exhausting rigamaro. I no longer live life ahead of my son; I live life with my son.

I’m no longer hyper vigilant. I’m informative and matter-of-fact. I’m not angry about the way things are, I’m eager to change them for the better.

I’m sure of the things I need to know and do to address the challenges that come our way because of C.J. I’m sure of the resources available to us and how to learn what I don’t know. I’m sure of my son, myself and – most importantly — my parenting. Surety erases worry. Confidence is calming.

My son feels my surety and it’s good for him. In turn, it’s given him confidence and calm. He’s sure of who he is, his style, the village he belongs to and the family that has his back no matter what.

He knows that the answer to “what happens if….” is always “we’ll deal with it.”

While I try to live in a place that is worry-free, it’s a place that’s certainly worry-adjacent. I can cross the city line to worry-ville in no time. I just try not to unless it’s truly justified.

img_5762I don’t worry. I work. So that when something happens and I have to react, I’m prepared. I want to be prepared, not paralyzed with worry and fear. Now, I make the worry propel me into action. I’m worried about 2017. I’m worried about our future under the reign of the president-elect. But, I’m focused on spending more time acting and less time worrying. Action is productive, worrying is not.

The more I let go of worry, the harder it got to write. I don’t see blog posts as we live our lives, like I did six years ago. I don’t see his gender creativity as much. I don’t see his purse entering the room first. I don’t see his runway walk being practiced down the grocery store aisles. I don’t see his French braid and lip-gloss when I drop him off at school.

I don’t see those things, I just see him.

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What I Got for Christmas, By CJ

Hieeeeeeeeeeeee. I got so many things for Christmas. And I love them all. But here are my favorites.

LED Sneakers: They light up and you can change the colors. You can also make the lights flash or change colors on their own. The other day we went out shopping and four people stopped me to tell me they liked my shoes. Today we went to the library and two people told me they liked my shoes. That’s six people.

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Rainbow light: I turn it on at nighttime and use it as a nightlight. When I look at the rainbow when I’m falling asleep I feel like a fabulous leprechaun.

Origami: I’m a master origami-er now. My mom bought me a beginner’s origami book and I’m almost done with it. My favorite thing to make is a swan. I didn’t even ask for origami stuff but my mom knew I would like it. I had no idea I was so good at origami-ing.

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Makeup: My Uncle Michael got me a for-real makeup case with makeup in it. He got me makeup brushes that feel so good on my face. I tickle myself with them. The makeup he got me is totally makeup for professionals. I’m not a professional yet, but I will be soon. I even got pink eyelashes and mascara. My mom says she wants to borrow the lipstick and eye shadow he got me because it’s from a brand called Urban Decay.

Dress: My new drag dress is very colorful. It’s short in the front and long in the back and glittery. When I put on the dress, I feel like I’m a drag queen being a unicorn.

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LEGO Friends Amusement Park: It came with a rollercoaster, a Ferris wheel and a spin-y thing. It had 1,124 pieces and I built the whole thing on Christmas Day all by myself. My mom says it was supposed to take me all of Christmas Break to build it and keep me busy. I was very proud of myself when I finished it.

Flex Seal: I’ve been wanting Flex Seal so bad so that I can make anything I want out of rubber. I’m going to make a rubber cup and a rubber bowl.

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Bath Stuff: I love to take baths. I got soap in the shape of little roses. And bath bombs. And bath confetti. When I take a bath I read People magazine and let the conditioner sit in my hair for a little while so that I don’t have tons of knots.

Byeeeeeeeee,

C.J.

 

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All My Son Wants For Christmas…

Spoiler Alert: I allude to some things about Santa that you may not want your child to read.

It’s a different kind of Christmas in our house this year. It’s C.J.’s first Christmas knowing that thing about Santa that only bigger kids and grown ups know.

This year, C.J. handed over his Christmas wish list only after confirming multiple times that “knowing gets you just as many presents as believing.” I guess he would start un-knowing and re-believing if my answer had been no instead of yes.

Let’s just dive right into his list, because the item at the top managed to shock even the world’s reigning drag queen – so there’s really no subtle way for me to introduce it.

Hip pads to wear while in drag: He’s heard all about them on RuPaul’s Drag Race and has caught glimpses of queens making them and tending to them on the show; now he wants his own set. Or pair. Or however you address them to mean one for each hip. Oh, and butt. When he told this to Bob The Drag Queen, Bob was surprised and gave a fabulous, hearty chuckle.

Bob said that a queen usually makes her hip pads based on the size and age of the woman she is going to be. What do you do if your queen is a nine-year-old boy who wants to be a 20-something man being a 30-something woman?

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Drag Makeup and Drag Clothes: Per family tradition, we visited an amusement park yesterday. I’ve had my kids’ Santa pictures taken there since they were born. I asked C.J. if he wanted to sit on Santa’s lap and get his picture taken given this year’s enlightenment. He said yes. We stood in line and he walked maturely up to Santa and took a seat.

C.J.: I don’t believe in you anymore, but I wanted to tell you that I want drag makeup and drag clothes for Christmas. You know, just in case.

Santa: That sounds great!

Uncle Michael is in charge of checking drag makeup off the list. Now I guess it’s up to me to find drag clothes in youth size 8/10.

These crazy-ass shoes: I’ve ordered them from China and they are lost in transit and the seller won’t return my emails. So, if you all could say a prayer or do a missing-LED-sneaker-rave-footwear dance, that would be awesome. Of everything on the list so far, I thought this would be the easiest gift to get. I was wrong.

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Photo creds: Amazon

Olympic regulation trampoline: Apparently the 12-foot trampoline we have in our backyard is too small for C.J.’s Olympic dreams. He now wants a 10ft by 17ft behemoth that is hand-woven and weighs 573.2 pounds. The price tag is $5,000 and I didn’t see it in any Black Friday ads. Why can’t my kid be normal and want a Hatchimal like all the other kids?

Flex Seal:

Me: What on earth are you going to do with liquid rubber?

C.J.: Make a boat and a cup.

Photo creds: Flex Seal

Photo creds: Flex Seal

Jeggings with rips and holes in them: This has become an annual request due to growth.

C.J.: I need new ones because when they get too small for you, girls’ pants really crush a guy’s nuts.

Crocheted mermaid tail: He saw this somewhere and wanted me to crochet it for him. I’ve taken one one-hour crocheting class at Jo-Ann’s, so my skill level isn’t exactly capable of mythical creatures. I was so flattered by his confidence in me, that I bought him one from Zulily.

Photo creds: Zulily

Photo creds: Zulily

Rainbow light for his room: If you ever need to find C.J.’s room in the dark, it will be the one with the bright rainbow beaming out of it. Of course.

Photo creds: Amazon

Photo creds: Amazon

Lego Amusement Park: 1124 pieces. And I will step on every damn one of them.

Photo creds: Amazon

Photo creds: Amazon

Luckily, C.J. is a pretty thankful and easily excitable person. He’s going to be very pleased with what’s under the tree this year.

Happy holidays to you all! If the holidays aren’t happy for you, please know that I’m thinking about you. 

Remember, you are not alone 🌈 If you need support, reach out to The Trevor Project 24/7 at: 866.488.7386. Find more ways to connect with a safe, online community at: www.thetrevorproject.org

 

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I’m The Dad Of A Boy Who Loves Drag Queens

The day after Halloween, Matt posted a short essay to Huffington Post about Bob The Drag Queen surprising C.J. and trick-or-treating with him. Following is the not-as-short, unabridged version. I think Matt is the best father ever, but I’m a little partial. Xoxo, Lori

This year when I asked my son what he wanted to be for Halloween his answer surprised me. Too be perfectly honest, most of the things that come out of my 9-year-old’s mouth surprise me. So why would this answer be any different?

“I’m going to be Bob The Drag Queen! Bob is my hero!”

img_4995Since C.J. discovered and became obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race seven months ago, I’ve made it a point to sit down with him and watch it. It’s not one of my favorite shows, but that doesn’t matter to me. He loves it; and because he loves it, I sit with him and feign interest. I tell him I like the drag queens he likes and I love the dresses he loves. I’m sure he knows that if I had my choice I would be watching a football or baseball game, but he also knows that I’ll sit next to him on the couch, watch episode after episode and get excited when he gets excited.

Parenting a child like C.J. has it challenges and struggles but he always knows he is loved and supported by his dad. Both of my boys know they are loved for who they are, exactly the way they are.

C.J.’s heroes and interests are vastly different than mine were at his age. When I was 9 years old, my world revolved around football and baseball. I dreamed of playing both sports professionally.

My heroes were professional athletes who excelled in their sport and my gender nonconforming son’s hero is a strong, confident, race winning drag queen.

I never got to meet my heroes. But, last night, C.J. got to meet his. Once he got over the initial shock, he started crying happy tears. And I did too.

img_4996Bob The Drag Queen has proven to be a person worth admiring. After reading my wife’s essay about our son dressing up as him for Halloween, Bob rearranged his schedule, worked until the early morning and then flew across the country to trick or treat with my son. I couldn’t thank him enough, even though I tried for most of the night.

People have asked me how I can let my son have a drag queen for a hero and dress up as one for Halloween.

I point out that my hero when I was 9 years old was Raiders football defensive end Lyle Alzado. Alzado went on to admit he illegally used anabolic steroids throughout his career and ended up dying of brain cancer he said was caused by abusing steroids. My baseball hero was “Charlie Hustle” himself, Pete Rose. The same Pete Rose who has been permanently banned from baseball and the Hall of Fame for illegally placing bets on games while playing and coaching. The men who were my heroes as a kid turned out to be cheaters. Would idolizing a professional athlete be better than idolizing a drag queen? I don’t think so – but it would make a lot of people feel more comfortable. My job is not to make other people feel comfortable; my job is to make my son feel comfortable. And loved, strong, confident and important.

Last night I watched Bob do my son’s makeup, fix his wig and hold his hand as they trick or treated together. They smiled and laughed the whole time. They were in a world of their own. I got to follow behind them, soak it all in and hold purses and jackets as needed.

It was the best night of my son’s life and it was one of mine, too. Thank you, Bob.

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