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Jan 28 17 10:44 PM

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I don’t even know where to begin with this post.  I just finished watching this video



I’ve been watching a few of Stef’s videos and for a young kid she has a remarkably clear understanding of herself and how to express it.  I can see why she has 400K+ followers.  Well the video link is her latest and she invited her parents to help her with a Q&A - the questions focussed quite a bit on Stef growing up and issues at school but when they got to the questions about her coming out to her Mom & Dad about her transgender feelings, transitioning, etc, they related stories about how they saw their child becoming who she really was. They were completely accepting of her decision.  Follow up questions asked more directly if either of Stef’s parents felt they were losing their son, her dad said no, but I was more interested in what her Mom said.She said she has spoken to mothers that were upset about losing their son, they felt that their child was going away forever.  Her advice was to think about the things they remember about their son that were their most happy memories and it seems that many recall them as young children, when they were happy and carefree. She said that you can look forward to this in your child again because that was what she recalls about Stef’s transformation. She felt she was getting her child back - not losing her adult son. I had a miserable time growing up and was bullied mercilessly throughout elementary and through to high-school.  The one who was there at the end of the school day was my Mom and she really helped me through those years.  I think I would likely have committed suicide if not for her because without that safe space she created for me I would have had no outlet to express my fears and frustrations.  That was why it was so demoralizing when I tried to explain to her one day about my gender issues.  It did not go well.The topic came up several years ago, I was home visiting and it was after I had helped my young niece with her makeup.  My Mom asked me how I knew so much about make up and I looked at this as a good opening to discuss my self-discovery.  I started to chat about doing make up for several gay friends (which she was perfectly fine with), steering the conversation toward the big chat, when she started to cry. She said something like, "oh no, you're not one of those are you?" It was very upsetting and I somehow managed to back off that conversation really quick. I can't even remember exactly what I said but neither of us mentioned it again. Maybe she thought I was about to tell her I was a drag queen? I am not sure because her reaction was so extreme I felt I had to drop it.That was about 9 years ago and I find myself looking back at that conversation and feeling sad that I was not bold enough to continue. To tell her about me and try to help her understand and move through it.  Now I have to continue to put on this show for her - my show..her son.  I do want to have this conversation with her before she dies because I remember the woman who helped me so much and I cannot believe she would prefer not to know this about me. Maybe time has moved us both to a better place were we can talk about it.

*hugs* Bobbi
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#1 [url]

Jan 30 17 1:24 AM

Some trans women point out to their parents that you cannot lose a son that you have never had. But, of course, to the parents the son was very real. 

Having been one of those who was constantly harassed during my school days, I can relate to what you say. The fact that your mother helped you is a good a thing, a good memory and something to build on.

The fact that she did not react negatively towards your gay friends, might imply that she is not much prejudiced when it comes to sexuality and gender. And that is good, as well.

(I am just trying to make sense of this by establishing some kind of base line).

So what did it mean when she said:   "oh no, you're not one of those are you?" She started to cry, right?  Maybe it wasn't because she despises transgender people. Maybe it was because she had already seen how much you had been suffering, realizing that that was only part of the picture. Maybe her heart was broken because she does feel your pain, and that she feels vulnerable because she could not help you?

You will never know unless you ask her, right?

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#2 [url]

Jan 30 17 7:06 PM

jackmolay wrote:
So what did it mean when she said:   "oh no, you're not one of those are you?" She started to cry, right?  Maybe it wasn't because she despises transgender people. Maybe it was because she had already seen how much you had been suffering, realizing that that was only part of the picture. Maybe her heart was broken because she does feel your pain, and that she feels vulnerable because she could not help you?

You will never know unless you ask her, right?

I honestly do not know Jack.  I have a strong feeling though that she thought I was going to tell her I was a drag queen.  And the line: you never had a son... yeah that is not a good position to take in such a discussion - you said it... to her she DOES have a son.  I am hoping that time and the progress we have made in society today has given her a slightly different perspective that I can build on.  She lives on the other side of the country so this conversation is not going to happen tomorrow.  I do not want to have this talk with her over the phone.  I think I know how to talk to her about it, we can begin by talking about all of the bullying and about the possible reason I was picked on.  
Since I am not planning on transitioning that might make this a much easier discussion.

You're right - I will never know until I ask her.

*hugs* Bobbi  

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#3 [url]

Jan 31 17 12:14 AM

Talking face to face seems like the sensible thing to do. We lose too much information during telephone conversation, and we lose the touch and in this case that is important.

As for the bullying: It is interesting to see how bullies hang on to the fact that you are different, even if you are not presenting as a girl or trans. I remember that they taunted me, calling me a "girl", even if I -- at the time -- was not fully aware of my transgender nature. It could have been because I was not into "manly" things (like sports and rough and tumble play), but they may also have sensed something else. On the plus side: They forced me to reflect on everything human, making it easier for me to do the kind of work I am now doing. On the other hand, I can still feel that fear in my body. Every day.

And she will have seen what that bullying did to you, so starting out from that point may make sense. You could say that you now know that what made you different was that you were transgender.

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#4 [url]

Feb 2 17 6:56 AM

If only i had had the courage to tell her when she first caught me cross dressing at age 10 - the last 42 years might have been completely different. I think this is why I got so upset with Zucker because he forced on parents of trans-kids, who DID have the courage to speak up, a therapy that would force them back in the closet.
If I would have been presented with the option to delay puberty I most likely would have done it ( no idea if they even considered that as a treatment back in 1975). Instead I kept my feelings to myself.
i am starting to come to terms with my own thoughts around the bullying I suffered in school and I think you are right, I was putting out a different vibe. Confronted with a bully I was defiant but not agressive (much like the girls), so I became a target. I never looked at my school experience from this perspective before. I struggled for years to try to understand what was different about me, why was I always getting picked on? 
It starts to make sense now as I think about how the bullies would try to molest the girls, did not happen often cause most girls I knew had better sense than to go anywhere near the bullies. Those who did got abused and molested. I never understood why but whenever I was cornered by a bully I did not fight back, I became submissive. I thought it was because I did not want to hurt anyone, but now I am not so sure that was the whole story. I think I was submitting sexually.
I do not think my mom is ready to hear me say that last part, so I need to work on these discussion points a bit longer. Thanks Jack. It really helps to be honest on a forum like this and hear constructive feedback.
*hugs*
Bobbi

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#5 [url]

Feb 2 17 12:43 PM

I was also bullied mercilessly in elementary school by a couple of boys in my neighborhood. I just couldn't fight them, I was too afraid that either I would hurt them or, more likely, they would really hurt me. It was so horrible to have to live with that constant threat.

About talking to your mother, I agree that's it's unlikely to help to say that she never had a son. This may sound kind of dramatic, but I have heard people say "would you rather have a dead son or a happy daughter?" I know it's not good to threaten suicide but it can certainly be that serious.
Only you can know what to do of course, and guess how she may react. It's reasonable to expect that she will be concerned and taken aback. Maybe if you remind her of your crossdressing, what she is aware of and what she is not, that will help explain that being trans isn't a choice or some sort of mid-life crisis: it's been with you all these years, repressed. Now I do think I should mention a couple of things in your favor:
1. Definitely it's great how much more visible transgender people are these days. No one is unaware!
2. I assume you're about 52 years old based on your writing, so I suspect your mother is in her 70s. I do think that as we age we learn that indeed, it's better to be more accepting and open. I'll be 61 this year and it's amazing to me how much more patient and accepting I am in general.

Best of luck to you,

Emma

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#6 [url]

Feb 3 17 7:08 PM

Thank you Emmasweet, it helps to know that others had a similar experience to me and similar reasons for their reactions to bullies. My Mom is highly emotional... I know this. She is likely to overreact when I tell her. So over the years I have invented strategies to break things to her gently. She is a sweet and supportive woman and I know that she will eventually come to accept what I will tell her. It's funny but when I was in my 30's - my first adult bout with GD - I thought about telling her then as well. I eventually vowed not to tell her since I had decided not to transition. Probably not helpful as I am now discovering. When she first caught me all those years ago I should have admitted my real feelings. Trouble was I was 10 and my mother had just caught me doing something I was embarrassed about!!!
How things have changed in 42 years. (yes I am 52 :) )

*hugs* Bobbi

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#7 [url]

Feb 3 17 8:22 PM

In a direct sense, this is a subject in which I feel completely inadequate to comment. Both of my parents were long deceased when I finally decided to deal with my gender issues. Frankly, I don't think that was a coincidence. It wasn't until my parents passed away that I felt I had the freedom to live my own life. Parents are probably the hardest people on earth to come out to. Even now, I can't imagine myself actually doing that.

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#8 [url]

Feb 3 17 9:02 PM

Bobbi Dare wrote:
Thank you Emmasweet, it helps to know that others had a similar experience to me and similar reasons for their reactions to bullies. My Mom is highly emotional... I know this. She is likely to overreact when I tell her. So over the years I have invented strategies to break things to her gently. She is a sweet and supportive woman and I know that she will eventually come to accept what I will tell her. It's funny but when I was in my 30's - my first adult bout with GD - I thought about telling her then as well. I eventually vowed not to tell her since I had decided not to transition. Probably not helpful as I am now discovering. When she first caught me all those years ago I should have admitted my real feelings. Trouble was I was 10 and my mother had just caught me doing something I was embarrassed about!!!
How things have changed in 42 years. (yes I am 52 :) )

*hugs* Bobbi

Shoulda, coulda, woulda! Sure, me too, so many things I wish I'd done differently. My parents are both gone and now, I wish I'd had the courage to talk to them. I suspect for example that I was insistent, persistent, and (relentless?) about my having a female gender, and that's what drove my mother to spanking the daylights out of me... but I'll never know. 

Bobbi: please don't allow the opportunity to be you with your mom before it's too late.

Emma

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#9 [url]

Feb 3 17 9:42 PM

I hear what you are saying Emma. My Father passed away in 2007 and I damn near told him before he died. Why didn't I? I'll refer to April's post. Also he was dying of cancer at the time and I was taking care of him - so not the best time to be talking about me. My Mom is heathy as a horse so I know I have a bit of time to have this conversation with her - and yes I am going to have that talk with her before she dies.

What do you mean about being "insistent, persistent, and (relentless?)"

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#10 [url]

Feb 5 17 4:04 AM

// I suspect for example that I was insistent, persistent, and (relentless?) about my having a female gender, and that's what drove my mother to spanking the daylights out of me... but I'll never know. //

Although I have more than enough childhood memories to know that I was some shade of transgender even then, I suspect that I have suppressed or deliberately forgotten a lot of it. Parents can use the most subtle methods to stop kids from expressing gender variance. They do not even have to use violence, just give some subtle signs of approval or disapproval. Kids who need clear signs of being loved very easily adapt to what they seem to prefer.

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#11 [url]

Feb 7 17 9:18 AM

Jack said: "Parents can use the most subtle methods to stop kids from expressing gender variance. " 3-thumbs-up!!!!

You are so right about this! I remember very clearly the times of my childhood when I was going through GD. My parents had very well defined gender-roles and even though there was no violence in the home the message to me was very clear. It was impossible for me at age 10 to talk to them about my feelings. The times my Mom caught me dressing up she very quickly made up some explanation for it without even talking to me about it and I admit that I took that as an out instead of telling her what was really going on.

As and aside - I have been following some of the debate going on at WPATH on the handling of transgendered kids - whether it is a good idea to encourage or discourage gender variance and of course Zucker's talk was protested (and he was banned). Honestly, I am glad Zucker lost his job; he was doing untold damage to transgendered youth. He should never be in a position of authority over programs for youth ever again. We should be doing the exact opposite of what Zucker was advocating - not suppressing GD in kids on the assumption they will grow out of it, but working with the parents to understand their kids. There needs to be more parents asking the right questions of their kids when they see this behaviour... not trying to actively suppress the behaviour.
All that having been said I do not agree that Zucker's talk should have been banned. Zucker represents arguments that, whether we like it or not, exist in society. If we shout him down, if we leave him out of the debate entirely, we are setting ourselves up for a huge push back. If we do not engage and counter Zucker's misguided ideas with dialogue then those who agree with him will go quiet, they will say nothing, then when a crazy-ass politician comes along and starts quoting Zucker as an expert and making a political platform with that message then we are in trouble. The new VP of the US is a fan of conversion therapy - you think that this cannot happen because we protest and shutdown debate? Wrong! Look who the US elected as president! It can happen.
Sorry - wrong place for this rant. :) I guess I should post this the the WPATH feed.

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#12 [url]

Feb 8 17 8:43 AM

//We should be doing the exact opposite of what Zucker was advocating - not suppressing GD in kids on the assumption they will grow out of it, but working with the parents to understand their kids.//

This.

This is the right approach.

And parents need this support, because it is not easy to raise a "different" child when you know that being different is what causes kids to be bullied and excluded. So both teachers, health personnel and public role models have to tell them to do everything they can to help their kids express themselves, even if it causes them to be bullied. The fact is that they will probably be bullied anyway, if they are of the sensitive and introvert type, as they will never be very good at playing the traditional male role.

It seems to me that kids can survive some bullying if they are allowed to be themselves. Bullying + self denial is often the recipe for life long suffering.

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