Hey! Remember me?
Yeah, it’s been a while. I know. Things have been a little crazy hectic here. But we finally got everything moved out of the old house and into our new home (and the garage and shed). No, we aren’t actually unpacked yet… but I’m making slow progress.
We have our computer/crafting nook set up. Which, let’s face it, is of prime importance in this family – and I’d suspect many more others than will admit to it. The girl has already been busy at work both on the computer and sitting at her own little craft station, making all sorts of things.
The girl’s bedroom is MOSTLY set up. For now her mattress is on the floor and she does have some boxes still that need unpacking. She has usable space though, and her clothes are all accessible in her closet. So I’m happy with where we’re at there (for now).
We moved in our little antique “three bears” kitchen table and chairs yesterday so finally got to use them. If you remember way back when, I blogged about them when we first bought them. 🙂 They’re super cute, but I’ll be honest… while their style fit in perfectly at our old place? They don’t match quite as well here. So I’m open for suggestions on how to paint/stain/refinish them to help them blend a little better in a European kitchen.
Our bedroom is partially put together. Still a long way to go in here… but we have a bed, a closet, and a tv (as well as a butt load of boxes). I know it will come together yet, but yeah. Our room isn’t exactly the priority.
The bathroom requires some work… new tub, new vanity, new counter top, new light fixture(s), new floor. Honestly? I think the only things I’m okay with keeping are the toilet and the sink. So we’ve definitely got our work cut out for us in there.
So yeah… exhausted. But I am slowly putting things together.
Damon had taken the last two weeks off to help pack up the old place, move, and get started on the unpacking. Today was his first day back at work. It feels kinda odd not having him around. I’d gotten used to it.
Today was also the first day I used my new key fob for our alarm system. I’ve never had an alarm system, so it does take some getting used to. Gotta get in the habit of pushing those buttons when I’m supposed to. LOL
Today the girl had her school photo retakes too. And yes, I’m sure this one will turn out MUCH better. She was just too darn busy playing with her friends in line to want to bother with the picture last time. Where today it was just her in the room, so it went much easier.
Further, today marks the International Day of Remembrance. A couple years ago I had organized a candlelight vigil down at the memorial bandshell beside the North Saskatchewan River. This year I’ll mark it quietly at home with my family. And I do ask that those of you who aren’t doing something en mass do the same. Just take a moment to remember all those amazing people who lost their lives simply for having the courage to live authentically. It is simply not right that so very many *trans women and men are murdered EVERY YEAR for being themselves. It is so beyond a time for change. Some Women have penises, and some Men have a vagina – get over it. People should not have to die because they don’t fit into some other persons idea of what “man” or “woman” means. My *trans sisters and brothers are incredible, strong, brave, compassionate individuals and they should not have to fear for their safety every time they leave their homes. So yes, if you do nothing else, take a few minutes out of your day to remember the many, many men and women who have been brutally murdered for the crime of being who they genuinely are.
On Thursday my attention was drawn to a new part of the daily routine for the girl’s kindergarten class. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something to have it changed. Today was my first chance.
A simply drawn boy wearing a baseball cap, and holding a bat and ball, coloured blue with the word BOY. His counterpart in pink with a pretty dress and holding a flower with the word GIRL sits beside him. Both on the bulletin board next to the calendar, a counting chart, and other simple items used to subtly teach the kindergarten class basic numerical skills.
The teacher touches the head of each student she deems as “boy”, counting as she goes. “Seven boys.” The number gets written on the wipe off board under the picture representing “boy”. She then touches the head of each remaining child, counting. “Five girls.” That number gets written on the board too. An addition sign gets added between them, and everyone counts on their fingers. “Twelve kids. Seven boys and five girls makes twelve kids.”
Now, my ideal kindergarten is gender neutral. At this age there really is no reason at all to discuss “boy” or “girl”, what each means, and how we each fit into societies gender binary – at least not at school. At the very least, if it can’t be a neutral space, it should be a equal space. And these disgustingly stereotypical figures are far from that. If we must count girls and boys, we need to ask the children “Who identifies as a boy?” Then count the raised hands, marking the result under the word (no picture) BOY. “Who feels like a girl?” Then count those raised hands, marking those results under the word GIRL. But I think we can do better. Why reinforce a false binary by bring gender into question at all? After all, there are more than two sexes, more than two genders (and the terms boy and girl can refer to either gender or sex, which just further muddies the water).
Why not ask “Who likes baseball?” and “Who likes football?” and add those two numbers. Switch it up, and the next day ask “Who likes veggies?” and “Who likes fruit?”. Every day of the week could be a different pairing of questions. After all, we don’t need to come up with the same answer every day. Some kids may vote yes to both, some may not raise their hand at all. This way we practice our early math skills, learn something interesting about our friends, AND we don’t reinforce any false notions about gender or sex – which have no place in a kindergarten class to begin with.
I spoke to kid kid’s teacher about my concerns today, and I’ll be honest. I’m not sure she understood my concerns at all. She thanked me for bringing them to her attention – but it was very much a canned response… what one could expect from someone who has never really given much thought to their own gender or sexual identity, someone with CIS privilege, who has lived in a very small, heteronormative box, their entire life. While I don’t hold this against her, it does mean it may be time for a little educating. Issues of gender and sexual identity are vitally important to the health and safety of our young people (and the adults they will become), and even something as simple as being told they are BOY… simply drawn with a baseball cap, bat and ball, coloured blue… can hurt, when that child knows -inside- it’s not right.
One of the very best things you can do for yourself is to build community. Having a “family by choice” will provide you with the supports we all need and don’t always get after coming out to our family by blood. Even in those instances where your family is fabulous and supportive, it always helps to have a community of people who really understand what you are going through and who have either been there, or are currently right with you.
The internet is an amazing resource when it comes to finding a sense of community. These days, even individuals with severe, life-limiting anxiety disorders can still find others and build camaraderie. We can find a global community, always ready and waiting thanks to things like email lists, online forums, and FB groups. But I do encourage you to also seek out local individuals, because there are times when we all need to reach out and actually FEEL another person whom we can trust and know will be there for us.
Here in Saskatoon I can’t recommend the ACC any more highly than I already do. They run a number of excellent programs for individuals of almost every age range in almost every situation. You can find them online at http://avenuecommunitycenter.ca/. PFLAG is also another amazing resource, and there are branches all over North America. Check them out at http://www.pflagcanada.ca/ and http://pflag.org/. For those of you in high school, talk to your guidance counselor to find out if there is a GSA you can join. And for more information on resources in your neck of the woods, check out http://www.gaystraightalliance.org/ which includes a directory that is world wide.
There is no reason to feel you have to go it alone. You aren’t alone. Far from it! No matter how you identify, even if you aren’t sure how exactly you fit into the whole spectrum, you can be sure there are others out there just like you. And now you’ve got some tools to help you find them.
As I mentioned yesterday, I was considering taking up the April A to Z blog challenge. I already blog almost daily, so that wasn’t the issue. For me? The biggest challenge is actually staying on topic. I enjoy writing on whatever hits me as interesting or important at the moment. I lose my interest otherwise. But, I figure, if I pick a topic that is dear to my heart – putting in 26 days shouldn’t be an impossible task. So, I’m going to do it. …and if I feel the need to go off topic, well… on those days I’ll just post twice. LOL So here we go. Day one: Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity.
For some folk, the most intimidating thing when encountering someone who doesn’t clearly fit into box A or B on the sexual and gender binary, is asking. And honestly? It’s something we need to become more comfortable with as a society, because even when someone appears very clearly to fit into “HE” or “SHE” it doesn’t mean that’s their preferred pronoun. A wonderful individual, whom I am proud to call “friend”, recently posted the following on their Facebook status:
“I find it is no longer important or useful, and in fact has become a negative experience to identify as male. Rather than identifying as another type of gender, I will leave the spectrum of gender identity altogether. This means that the current English language of gender identity pronouns, such as she, her, his, her, xe, and hir, become problematic when referring to me. So with great respect and earnestness, I ask that you refer to me simply by using my name, for in a name the entire soul resides. Thank you.”
This is an individual, whom upon appearance, would very easily fit into the neat and tidy package we call “male” or “masculine” and is proof positive that we cannot, nor should we, presume to use male pronouns based solely on our impressions of said individual.
How we each identify is an intensely personal thing, and it is perfectly okay to ask someone what pronouns they prefer – if any. In fact, for many of us, it’s a question we welcome. So the next time you are introduced to someone try asking. Not sure how to word it? Give this a go: “Hi Francis, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Would you mind telling me which pronouns you’d prefer?” Plain, simple, straightforward. And if you feel the need to say more, try this: “I’d hate to offend by insisting on using something that you don’t identify with.” Chances are they’ll be happy you had the respect and courtesy to ask.
And hey! Ever had something you wanted to ASK (see? I’m keeping it on topic) about gender, sex, affection, desire, expression, orientation or on any other topic of interest to the acronym community now’s the time. 26 days is a lot to fill, so help me out. Let me know what YOU would like to see me blog about. And thanks to Sarah for her suggestion of “Asking” as our very first in the alphabet series.