In February and March, I started sharing bits of our journey on Instagram. Some of my readers aren’t on Instagram and have asked me to share posts here as well. So, following are highlights from March. Click here to view every post. If you’re on Instagram, follow me. If you already follow me, ignore this post. Or not. It’s up to you.
“To be gender nonconforming is to risk being killed, but on a daily basis it more likely means being harassed, confused and misunderstood in the community or maltreated by mental health professionals. . . . There is no doubt that these children are among the ranks of minority individuals in our society who must anticipate bigotry and antipathy from those who either do not understand, are ill-informed, govern their thinking with myth rather than reality or . . . project hatred onto those who are different from themselves. At the same time, gender creative children diverge from almost all other minority children in that they have an additional mark against them: they may face aspersion from their very own family, loved ones who are supposed to be their protectors.” Diane Ehrensaft in her book Gender Born, Gender Made.
The statistics for kids like CJ are scary. Compared to his straight cisgender peers, he is prone to the highest rates of depression, addiction, unsafe sexual behaviors and suicide rates. The most important thing families can do to improve those statistics is simple. Love and support the child no matter what.
“I love you no matter what.” Matt and I say it to both of our boys. Our love for them isn’t conditional. No matter who they are, who they love and what other people say, we love them no matter what.
“We studied Mary Cassatt at school today and did art like she did. My art teacher said we could make a boy hat or girl hat for our person. I rolled my eyes at her on the inside because she is an artist and she should know that there is no such thing as boys’ hats and girls’ hats. This is me. I’m in a shirt and bow tie because people always dressed fancy in those days. And I gave myself a hat that the art teacher said was a girls’ hat. When she said that I rolled my eyes at her again on the inside.” — CJ, age 10.
Three cheers for loving and supportive grandparents who know that one of their grandsons will want a pink chocolate bunny, instead of a blue one.
CJ: Mom! Look! Doesn’t my eye makeup look so much better than yours?! 😃😊
Part of parenting is wanting better for your children, but I’d like my makeup to look that good too.
“It takes a village to healthily launch a gender nonconforming child into adulthood. But that’s not always how the siblings want to spend their time.” — Diane Ehrensaft, PhD.
There are some struggles and challenges that come with being the sibling of an LGBTQ person. Chase and I have that in common. At nearly 14 years old, Chase is source of constant wonder to me. He loves video games, he taught himself to play the guitar, he listens to classic rock, his hobby is photography and he has mad skills in the kitchen.
While CJ reminds me of my brother, Chase is like no one I’ve ever met. I’ve never witnessed a cisgender straight boy become a man.
Chase is the very best brother that CJ could have. He is kind, loving, supportive and protective. He also calls CJ out on his shit, doesn’t treat him special and holds him accountable. Sometimes that’s exactly what CJ needs.
Serving Florida retiree goes to lunch with her gurls, eats Cobb salad and is home by 2 pm realness.
“Look, Mom! I made gender nonconforming cups. The boy cup is wearing a dress and the girl cup is wearing a jersey.” — CJ, age 10
Kids (all people, actually) look for themselves in other people and things. CJ notices anything that is a fellow redhead — from Ariel to orangutans. He also notices anything that is gender nonconforming. And, if given the chance, he’ll make things gender nonconforming.
Much to CJ’s displeasure, I’ve been monopolizing the sewing machine lately. He’s kept himself busy making food out of felt, which he can sew by hand. “Should I use a whip stitch or a back stitch?” he asks me. “What’s the difference?” I ask.
(Clockwise from top: doughnut, pop tarts, carrot, egg, toast)
“What should I do now?” He asks. He knows better than to say “I’m bored,” he knows I’ll say “Only boring people can be bored.”
He doesn’t much like electronics or technology. Sometimes I wish he’d just play on the iPad and chill for a minute. Nope. He always wants to be creating and crafting.
Today he is making felt finger puppets. Most 10-year-old boys read and follow Lego instructions, my boy reads and follows sewing patterns. Oh, and he’s pissed that this pattern says to make pants for a boy puppet and a skirt for girl puppets. “Boys can wear skirts and girls can wear pants!” he declared. “I’m going to put my boy in a skirt!” Take that pattern maker!
When your son’s messy bun is better than yours and you want to hate him for it but you love him too damn much.
Like most gender nonconforming boys, CJ’s closest friends have always been girls. His girl friends are funny, smart, colorful, loyal, kind, accepting, supportive and fiercely protective. And, they write him notes like this:
You are the peanut to my butter. Twinkle in my eye. Shake to my bake. Blue to my sky. Sprinkles to my sundae. Flip to my flop. Jewel on my crown. Milk to my shake. Beat of my heart. But, most of all, MY BEST FRIEND. I’d walk through a fire for you! Well, not fire because it’s dangerous…but a super humid room. But not too humid, because my hair….
hi I saw a girl about 6 yrs. old which looks like a boy on the subway a while ago with her dad. I was on the train and said child was on the platform waiting for another train. this is in boston ma. kids that age can come off as either sex. how would one approach this child? I am a long time cd’er now 68 started about age 14.
You’ve done great this that kid, I’m happy there are still some awesome people in this ignorant hateful world. I mean we need more people like you and your kid in this terrible time of Trump and the alt-Reich. Keep being awesome, oh and if you ever need something to watch yet most things on American tv seem boring for you on any given day just ask. I have loads of Asian shows that you can look into,
Hell I’ll give you two right now, Wondering Son and Yuri on Ice,
Why does the pink bunny have to be smaller?! I like chocolate as much as any blue bunny!
“Chase is the very best brother that CJ could have. He is kind, loving, supportive and protective. He also calls CJ out on his shit, doesn’t treat him special and holds him accountable. Sometimes that’s exactly what CJ needs.”
I agree completely. Chase is a wonderful big brother. He is just the brother that everyone deserves. But your whole family are stars Lori. You are the best mother. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Its better that Chase had to give you a heads up that he was straight. Rather than you just assuming it. Matt is the best dad. How wonderful that he shared the Disney Princess Parade with CJ. So many dads either won’t or they ignore their sons desire to see it.
Just saw that Home Gardens Library in Corona, CA is holding a Beginners Makeup Workshop, specifically stating all genders welcome! Seems like CJ is both beyond beginner and younger than their target audience, but knowing you’re nearby in OC, I thought you might know other individuals/families that would be interested. http://riverside.evanced.info/signup/eventdetails?eventid=81500&lib=29
Wiping a bit of happy tears from my eye. And the felt food is adorable! I love that the toast has glasses.
Thank you so much for sharing with us non-instagram folks! I love, love, love hearing what’s going on with all of you.
I love those little Pop Tarts! They are too cute. And CJ has the most excellent of sewing skills.
Yummm donuts! LOL Tell C.J. that I bet those donuts would make cool earrings! And his carrot is sorta scary looking! — Kitty
a super humid room. But not too humid, because my hair….
OMG. I love her, whoever she is.
I love reading about CJ and Chase. Thanks for posting this here.
So. At least 1/2 of his friends think he’s just swell. That’s more than alot of people ever have!
So great you’re so supportive of your child! I adore the little fabric foods! Adorable.