Friday, May 17, 2024

Choosing Sides

It's been nearly four years since I've written on this blog. I know it is not because our story has come to an ending, but in so many ways we, Chris and I, have reached a plateau. I am completely settled, and have been for several years, and Chris also seems settled in his life as a trans man, as our son, as a strong presence in his community, as an individual that is living his authentic life in Austin, Texas, with his girlfriend and sister and friends. As Chris's mother, I am at ease and happy, for him, for us, for our family, with regard to Chris being trans.

I felt the urge to revisit the stories on this blog today because at this point in my life I have made a very determined effort in my personal life to outwardly and adamantly choose sides. I have always been the sort of person who embraces diversity, and that is even and often especially with regard to other's opinions, ideas, beliefs, choices. As long as your position on things does not adversely affect me (or my children/family), does not radically offend me, is not something you voice around me, even if I oppose your position, even adamantly, I have always tolerated and even ignored what and that I believe you are "wrong" sheerly because I've always felt it was the right way to be. However, recently, I have become acutely aware that because our nation and our society and many individuals hold beliefs and agendas that are disrespectful, dangerous, unjust, unfair, offensive and hateful about issues I feel STRONGLY about, such at the rights and lives of trans people and any and all LGBTQ+ individuals/issues, I need to choose the side, adamantly and outwardly, away from people in my life that have made it too apparent that their beliefs do not align with my own or with the safety and lives of my children (or women, or any and all disenfranchised and marginalized individuals or others that hold different religious beliefs/backgrounds or any and all people of color or those with disabilities, etc.).

I will no longer be "friends" on social media with people who post anything that depicts positions (politically and personally) that differ than my own position on issues/policies/beliefs. I am old enough and informed enough to realize where I stand on issues, and recognize others have the right to their own beliefs, but I no longer will allow into my world, near my family, near my children, people whose beliefs encourage, define, represent all the things I strongly define as "wrong" for me, my family or my children, or our nation.

In public, if I run into you, I will continue to be cordial, kind, embrace you, even, but even in public I will now keep my distance, as I no longer find it "right" to pretend I can co-exist socially with anyone who, I believe, is choosing the wrong side of important issues.

I'm okay losing "friends" and even family, whom I have also chosen to distance myself from, if it means the boundaries I now set create a safer and more healthy existence for me and my family, for my children. The boundaries help me NOT spend time focusing on hatred, dismissiveness, on division, on agendas that I see as harmful, disgusting, wrong, and allow my mind and time to focus on nurturing only the ideas and people I find to be important, useful, special, neglected, threatened, relevant, loved by me.

I have ALWAYS chosen what side I am on, but now I am doing so blatantly, because others have and show their side blatantly without regard to how their harmful beliefs truly affect me, my kids, my family, our nation, our community, people. Choose your side. Make sure you also rid yourself of me if my position on things offend you - I'm okay with that.   

Thursday, August 6, 2020

No Going Back

All of those stories are here. I have not written any stories in the past year, so I think I'll start writing some again.

I'm in "the life" now. Completely entrenched. Completely committed. There are still things within the LGBTQ+ community and about the various and diverse individuals that I do not understand or I am uninformed about, but I have come to a place where I seldom question or dismantle things, for emotional ease or even for knowledge. I may have become somewhat complaisant - I like to see it as I have become comfortable. Mostly, I owe this stability of emotions and life, in general, to Chris's ongoing, blissful adjustment to his life as a (trans) man.

People that learn I have a transgender son often look at his picture and comment about how handsome he is, how beautiful he is, they are surprised by his appearance - they sometimes say things like, "He looks like a man", or "I would have never known he was trans." Most people are fascinated, want to know his story, want to hear about his life. I spend a lot of those particular times telling people about Chris, in various consolidated versions I've learned to express concisely. Mostly, I show a lot of pictures, which people love to see. Seldom do people ask about me - about what it's like. In the beginning of our journey that happened often. I think they simply see my ease now, my joy and, therefore, no longer need to delve into what it's like or been like for me. I'm fine with that. That story is longer and has not always been so pretty.

The stories continue as this journey goes on. Where Chris is now, is five years more happy. Where I am now, is five years happier for him and five years a stronger advocate for my own child and every other mother's child that are like him. There's no going back, and that's a good thing. I don't want to be who I was in the beginning. I don't want Chris to be who he was then. I simply look forward now to all that is to come - for Chris's life and for my life with him  ...

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


 I was clearing out a closet today and came on a box of photos. Mostly, it was package after package of school photos. We must have ordered every school photo our kids ever took from elementary school through high school, as there were tons of photos of Chloe, photos of Courtney, photos of Chloe with Courtney, photos of Billy and photos of Alexis, each from the age of six to seventeen. I removed all the photos from their individual packages and put them in a box. But before I packed them away, I looked at each one closely.

As I write this, note that I refer to Chris as Chloe, because in each of the photos of her, she was not yet Chris.

I've written on this blog about how difficult it was to stop calling Chris Chloe. I wrote a post a few years ago titled "The Second Gift", wherein I define that a child's first gift from their mother is life and their second gift is their name. When I was looking at the photos today of Chloe from all those years ago, I never saw her as Chris, because, for all those years and a few years into college and beyond, she was Chloe. 

There was a time before where I am now in Chris' transition that seeing those old photos would have made me nostalgic, made me emotional. There was a time before where I am now in Chris' transition that I could have never imagined a day that I could look at those photos without regret, without sadness, without fear. When I looked at those photos today of Chloe, all I did was smile. Even now, when I think about it, I have no sadness, only happy thoughts and memories of the child I gave the name Chloe as her second gift.

People say, "Time heals". They also say, "When one door closes another one opens." And then there's the saying, "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was." All of these sayings are true. Time has healed what I once thought was a broken heart. The door we all closed on Chloe, allowed for us to help open the door for Chris. And ... the last saying is the most true for me, as it truly feels as though when I finally allowed Chloe to be set free, she helped bring Chris to me. 

I'm aware that Chris' journey has impacted and affected a lot of people and I am completely aware there is no one it has transformed, tried, destroyed at times, defined, reinvented, tortured and triumphed more than him. However, I am also pretty confident he is unaware of how his transformations have often affected me in these same ways, to the extent or magnitude. And it's not that he wasn't or isn't sensitive to my survival on this journey, as he is and has been. I think it is mostly because he was and is in constant survival mode, moving forward and running as fast as he can, and likely is not aware how hard it has been, sometimes, for me to keep up with him. The main thing I know about this journey is ... I never lost sight of Chris and he never lost sight of me. Through it all, he gave me strength by making me confident in who he needed to be.

When I looked at all the faces of Chloe today in all those many pictures, it was maybe the very first time I looked at her and didn't wonder who she could have been. I looked at those pictures easily, contently, one year after the other. 

Maybe I am now completely at ease and at peace because I truly never imagined or even believed Chris could offer Chloe a better destiny.

But ... he did.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Can you be the mother of a trans child and be defined in the world as powerful.


I am the mother of a transgender child who has claimed power.

I am a mother who has defined herself as a powerful mother of a trans child, of her child's trans friends, one who will fold herself into the crowd to protect his rights, their rights, be his and their advocate, represent him and them to those who are afraid, ignorant, hateful.

When Chris came out as trans in our family, I was resistant, sad, worried, fearful, absorbed. It took me a while, maybe too long, but the day came when I realized that ME, I, would be the one, the person, the point in Chris' life with our family that would determine how he would be accepted.

It took me too long.

Not so long at all, I think, in the scheme of things, really. But, it was long. Longer than it needed to be.

My husband waited.

My son waited.

My mother waited.

My youngest daughter never waited for me or anyone.

Maybe, it was the encouragement, immediate acceptance, the defiance of my youngest daughter that forced me forward. It certainly helped. She never questioned Chris' need to be who he needed to be. She called him Chris from the very first moment he identified as Chris. She, our youngest child, taught me reverence, taught me to be determined, taught me to defy.

It's not an easy journey - not for Chris, not for any of us, but ... when I realized that trans people, my child, needed me, needed our family, that is one of the detrimental moments when I embraced, accepted, understood Chris being trans.

It's rare now, when I look on Chris being trans as anything more than a normal in our family, in our lives. I tell people easily, "One of my kids is trans," with a smile, with pride, with reverence.

That's it.

Our lives. Chris' life. All trans people's lives should be defined as "reverent" -  Reverent: adjective: feeling or showing deep and solemn respect.

I feel powerful being the mother of a girl child who was sad, drowning, lost ... but who found her way in this wicked world to redefine who she needed to be to survive and became someone other than I described, someone other than the world described, to be who HE knew himself to be. I feel powerful to be the mother of a child who would change the child I gave to the world to be something even more amazing ...

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

I've Always Flown A Freak Flag

June was Pride month. I was lucky to be in Chicago for their Pride Fest and Parade on Sunday, June 30th with three of my children and a few of their friends.

A few days before leaving for Chicago, I was in my bathroom trying on a few of the Pride/rainbow items I found online and Alexis, my 17-year-old daughter was sitting in the bathtub (she often does this when I'm in my bathroom getting dressed - she sits in my large, whirlpool bathtub and watches/talks to me). As she was watching me, she snapped a picture of one of my outfits to send to her sister.

I said, "Do I look ridiculous? I look ridiculous, don't I?"

She said, "No. You look cute."

I thought she was being sarcastic. I said, "Really?"

She said, "Yes. Just the fact that you care enough to participate by wearing rainbow colors, by going to Pride parades with your kids, it's cute, it's good."

We went on for a bit discussing that and she said, "I have friends who have come out as gay whose parents are not supportive. It's good that you're so supportive."

When I was at the Pride Parade on the streets of Chicago with a reported one million other participants and supporters, I was approached many times by people complimenting my outfit, wanting to take pictures with me, people grabbing me and enthusiastically and lovingly including me in their celebrations. I'm often all about dressing up for occasions (4th of July, Halloween, Memorial Day, Women's Marches, etc.), but I wouldn't dress up and participate in any event I wasn't actually emotionally, mentally or happily invested in, and Pride was and is no different. I wore rainbow colors to not only fit in, to BE a link, to be supportive and interactive - I wore rainbow colors because I am a proud mother of a lesbian daughter and a transgender son, a proud person that supports, depends on and relishes diversity in our society, and a woman who prides herself for being on the right side that is often so wronged. And, I proudly consider myself a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

My children sometimes tire of my flamboyance, I know this. I sometimes tire myself. But ... when I was in Chicago, in our AirBnB and trying to decide which outfit to wear (should I wear the thigh-high boots I brought? should I wear the rainbow corset? should I wear the rainbow dress? should I just wear the sweat pants with the rainbow stripe on the sides with a white T-shirt? ...), worried a bit that I might be too flamboyant, worried that I might embarrass my kids, worried that I wouldn't fit in ... my youngest daughter said, "Wear the boots. Wear it all. If you're going to go, go big!" My other daughter said, "Wear whatever you want, Mom." I chose the dress over the corset, and the thigh-high boots and a cowboy hat with a rainbow-heart sticker I put on it. When we left the house, I sort of looked for signs from my three kids - signs of embarrassment, signs of discomfort, signs of anything. All I noticed was they treated me as they always do - with acceptance. I was just an extension of their own diversity; nothing odd or ridiculous. They are used to me (and my clothes), of course, but maybe, they view me as a part of the reason they are able to survive happily and gracefully - me and my willingness to step out in the world, vulnerable, not truly knowing that I will be accepted. Maybe.

I've been told in my life pretty often that I have a "freak flag" (noun: used in reference to the open, proud, or defiant exhibition of traits regarded as unconventional.) I never seem hesitant to fly, and that is partly true. I think it is because I have never quite fit in. You just know when you fit it and you know when you don't. Somewhere along the way I realize that what people tried to define "wrong" with me, were the things I liked best about myself, and, so, I nurtured those parts of myself, embraced them and often wave my flag to define them, even if flying that flag made/makes people uncomfortable, makes me uncomfortable.

Dressing for the Pride Parade was my way of flying my own flag, but more importantly, it was my way of helping to draw attention and offering recognition to their lives, their worth, their flag. I think I did that.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Saving Smiles

“Did anyone really know their child? Your child was a little stranger, constantly changing, disappearing and reintroducing himself to you. New personality traits could appear overnight.” *Big Little Lies*

I heard this tonight and immediately realized I was nodding my head, as if to indicate to someone that I agreed. I was alone, for no one to see.

My mother mentioned to me recently that she noticed a framed photo in her house of Courtney and Chloe when they were little. She said, "I never noticed it before - how Chloe looked in that picture. Sort of lost. Subdued. Wilting. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this is how Chloe looked in a lot of her photos. Sort of lost."

(In this photo, it is Chloe on the right)

Chloe was first a female. Then, Chloe came out as a lesbian. Then Chloe became Chris. These were some of the most obvious changes, but there were so many more.

When Chloe was small, born the first born of identical twins (on the left in this black/white photo), to me, she and Courtney were very much alike, not just in appearance, but in personality - both happy, interactive, filled with curiosity, ambition and life. She and her twin, Courtney, were very close, competitive in a positive way (I thought), identical in so many ways. And yet, when I look back on their lives now, as they grew from toddlers to adolescences to teenagers ... inside of me I have a strong hindsight awareness of how often Chloe changed in her life, how there were times when she was young that I, now, recognize how unsettled she might have been or was; an uneasy feeling I have that surrounds her in some of her life, a feeling that makes my heart sink. Going through those many years with both girls, I didn't recognize subtle sadness's, hidden fears, feelings of maybe being lost. They both seemed happy, always, yet, there are pictures that capture Chloe in such a way that I have to question what her thoughts were, where is her personality in those pictures, was there things I missed?

"How do you tell them apart?" people would often ask. I'd say, "Courtney has a rounder head to Chloe's oval, and Chloe has more hair, and the shape of their eyes are slightly different." But then I'd always add, "I just know them. I can tell them apart easily. To me they are different." And this was true, but I was also the one that found great joy in their being identical, dressed them alike for many years and rejoiced, constantly, their twin-ship. (Chloe is the one sitting up in this photo)

No one but Chris can know if or how much his being a twin influenced his body/identity dysphoria. I have to believe it might have played a part. I, also, might have played a part (likely so). It wasn't until college that Chris realized his feelings about himself were feelings others shared about their selves and that the answer to his uneasiness/unhappiness with his image, his body, his identity, his gender was to change it. 

Chloe is on the right in this photo. The one with the serious face. The one with her arms crossed. I always saw her expression as sort of defiant in this picture, while she was never a defiant child. Maybe she often refused to smile because she couldn't always call on a smile easily. That's true of some people. I don't know, but I wish I did. I hope it was just that she was more serious than Courtney (which was and is still mostly the case). I hope it's not that she was sad.

While you can not see Chloe's eyes in this photo from when she was about 18 or 19, I think she looks very much the same as she did in the first photo I posted (in the angel outfit). She doesn't so much look sad, as she looks lost, and as I write this it brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart ache. I've looked at this photo many times over the years and always loved it - her hair, her sunglasses, all the bracelets she wore on her wrist. Until today, I really never realized that in this one photo I might have captured her wandering.

When Chloe was in high school she drew this self portrait of herself behind bars. I don't know exactly what the portrait was meant to portray, but if there was ever a photo that depicts how I think Chloe might have viewed her life in her late teen years and then early college years, this would be it. And, again, there is no smile. 

People often say that Chris has the most beautiful, contagious and brilliant smile, and it's true. And it's a smile that fills a room, now. A smile glowing from his whole body. A smile that shines in his eyes.

Maybe ... all Chloe was doing her whole life was saving her smiles for when she was truly happy. Maybe Chloe was saving her smiles for Chris ...

So Many Gorgeous Butterflies

In a discussion recently with my daughter, Courtney, she said something to the affect, "All embryos are female to start with, and that means if there were no men, through cloning technology and such we could create them. (Or not)." I don't really know how "real" this armature scientific theory is, but Courtney is pretty dang smart, so I'm convinced. I do know that even if one is born male or female, they can pretty easily and comfortably change their gender.

While in Orlando this past week, my mother said to me, something like, "I wonder sometimes. I see people looking at Kaleb and Chris, and I wonder what they are thinking. Do they see them as men or are they confused? I see people looking. And when I'm walking with Chris and he has his arm around me, or something, I wonder what people think of me, like do they think 'She's a good grandmother, she's very tolerant, she must be very progressive.'" I told her ... "Most people do not realize they are trans, and that is primarily, not only because they both look completely masculine and male, but also because most people are unfamiliar and/or have never even encountered trans people in their lives, and, therefore, their first thoughts when seeing Chris or Kaleb is likely not thoughts of confusion, but an attraction to their beauty, just like with all handsome men." And then I told her, "They probably also see the tattoos, gauges, piercings, and maybe question that, but with regards to you, people are probably just thinking, 'Aren't they adorable.'"

On this same trip to Orlando, we were able to see my aunt and uncle (on the mother's side). My aunt, who is a bit younger than my mother, but in her late 70s said to me, "I don't mean to sound disrespectful or rude, but I want to tell you something about Chris." I was very curious, of course, as discussion with my relatives about Chris is rare (as we live in different states and rarely talk or see each other). I said, "Well, tell me." She smiled and said, "I just think he's a doll. He is too pretty to be a man." I told her that is not disrespectful at all and I agree, and many people would also agree.

Chris and Kaleb started out as female and through testosterone and surgery they are now male. Their faces and bodies have changed and being male is their present, desired and required (gender) identity. How the world perceives them (and all people) is based on how they look, but with Chris, I know that his desire and need to change his gender was and is based on how he perceives his self, how he needs to feel about himself and how he has reached a greater love for himself.

I am around many transgender individuals and very often not aware who is trans and who is not. There are men who transition to women and women who transition to men. These are not concepts my mother's generation experienced or conceived when they were growing up in the 30's and 40's, and are not concepts many of them deal with in their lives today. Many from her generation are "appalled" and even "disgusted" and not at all accepting. This is also true of my generation. It has taken my children's generation (and many of us parents of these children) to teach the world that gender identity is serious, real, progressive, fluid and not scary. It has taken my children's generation to take this very important issue into their own hands and push for changes necessary for their own survival, regardless of judgement or attempts of restrictions by others.

If people look at Chris and Kaleb and all they truly see is their beauty, their vibrant personalities, their joy, as I believe is the case, then they are two examples of how successfully, harmlessly and positively trans people manage and affect the world. If, like in my mother's case, people see her with Chris and are questioning her tolerance (as a grandmother, as an older women), then that is okay, as her support and love for Chris is evident, and a witness to those who watch, those who are maybe confused, those who judge ... that unconditional love is a strong medicine. I honestly, think she hopes people "question" Chris's identity, as I think my mother has reached the point, like so many do, of simply being proud to be on the side of these people that are changing their lives, be on the side of tolerance, be on the side of Chris and Kaleb and ALL trans people that deserve to have people on their side.

Honestly, I don't know if the world needs more men, but one thing I do know is that those coming out in the trans community have the potential to dramatically change the world. And if they are all gorgeous butterflies while doing that, then who can have issue with that?