homophobia

Straight Hate.

This is a term I learned recently. It was said jokingly about my blog.

Ha. Ha.

I don’t hate straight people. I used to be one. (Anyone get the Mrs. Doubtfire reference? You are my people if you did.)

I do feel a certain type of way about heterosexual individuals who are not aware of their het-privilege and then become defensive or deny when it is pointed out to them.

I am very aware of my white privilege. I also have felt the gut instinct to deny it exists because it is uncomfortable to sit with it.

It’s likely not hate you are feeling from me. It’s an uncomfortable niggling in your gut that you have heterosexual privilege and I am ripping the band-aid off and making you look straight at it.

It’s human nature to deny that you are “better” than some one else. Especially when you’ve used the privilege to your advantage without even being aware you were doing it. Especially when you haven’t used your privilege to help and advocate for those without it.

Heterosexual privilege exists. Trust me. It exists every time you make plans for a vacation. Do you ever consider your safety? When traveling within the United States do you ever wonder if you can travel to South Carolina or Alabama because you might not be welcome there? I do. We literally don’t travel South unless it’s directly to a friend or family member.

Have you ever held your breath when a stranger starts admiring your kids and you are not in a totally safe place, and they mention their “Mommy” and you wait for your kids to correct them and say, No this is my Mama, Mommy’s not here. Giving away your secret. I have. I have exhaled in relief when my kids didn’t mention that they have two Mom’s and then later felt a deep sadness that they will have to hide this at other times in their future.

Have you ever left a job because you couldn’t be “out” about your partner? I have.

Have you ever lost clients or customers because of your sexual orientation? I have.

Have you ever been asked about your sexual relations leading up to pregnancy? I have.

Have you ever been unable to marry the person you love due to your genders? I have.

Have you and your partner ever been harassed at bars or in a restaurant by another male who thinks ‘you just need a dick in you both’?  We have.

Have you ever had a bible shoved in your face to show you how you’re going to hell? I have. Three times. By three different people.

Have your parents ever called a homeless shelter and told you to go to one, and that you have two hours to pack a bag and get out? My wife has.

Have you ever known some one who has been physically assaulted by their parents when they came out to them? I do. Too many people. Injuries included dislocated joints, broken bones, and black eyes.

The list could go on. Your privilege exists because you have not had to experience any of these things in order to love who you want to love.

Me pointing this out is not “straight hate”. It’s Queer love. My yoga instructor always says, “Sit with the uncomfortable. Move through the uncomfortable.” That’s what I encourage every one to do when examining your privilege. Put away the defensiveness and denial. Acknowledge it exists. Stop perpetuating the idea that it doesn’t. Stop perpetuating the idea that anyone pointing it out spreads hate.

I’ve said it before. I have a homosexual agenda. It’s to show everyone that my marriage and who I love doesn’t define who I am. Who I am defines who I love.

My agenda includes bringing light to an issue that has been stuck in a closet in the dark for far too long.

Straight hate probably exists in some Queers. It doesn’t exist in me. But the knowledge that more hetero’s need to acknowledge their privilege…that does exist. That mission of mine won’t stop.

If that’s not something you can handle…probably read a different blog then.

 

 

 

mom of boys · politics

Visiting the “Scary” City with Twins

I’m going to preface this with a few things. 1- We moved to the suburbs from a city- where we loved living, but while I was home on maternity leave there was not one but three home invasions all within a block of our house. One of the houses we shared a corner of our yard with. I was home alone for 14 hour stretches because my wife worked an hour away. I had visions of armed intruders coming while I was breastfeeding twins with no defense.

My car was broken into one night. And with my sister and I standing ten feet away some one came running toward her running car to try and steal it. So there were a few things that led us to move.

2- I didn’t want to live in a space as rural as we do. But we fell in love with this house and pool and the house we lived in for nine years was very close to the neighbors. I’d be cooking in the kitchen and suddenly a neighbor would be literally in our window chatting with me if it was open. My wife didn’t want that anymore. So now we have over an acre of land to separate us from our “neighbors”.

The trade-off of space and a pool was a white Republican town. I’m not sure we will stay but here we are for now. We had to move daycares too. We are now in much smaller and more suburbia type daycare with far less diversity in the teachers and kids. Previously my two little white boys were the minority. I liked it that way.

By moving here I knew we’d have stuff to deal with. But Sunday morning caught me by surprise.

Declan named the closest city and said, “It’s a scary place!” I was surprised that the name of the nearest city was in his vocabulary and also that he had formed an opinion about it. My wife facepalmed because she knew this was going to lead into an angry rant about ignorant white people by me.

First we asked where he heard this. But as he noted my intensity and interest grow Declan stopped talking. My wife and I hadn’t made this statement so it had to be some one at daycare.

I went into my rant. “It’s not scary. I work there at the hospital. You were born there!” my voice apparently was rising and my wife tried to calm me down, and I said, “No, this is all because of ignorant freaking white people in this area of our freaking state who think that “insert name of city” is bad because there are Black people there. Freaking racist bullshit.” Declan then started talking about stickers obviously trying to change the topic of conversation. Yes I swore in front of my kids. I was pissed.

I interrupted him. “We are going to ‘city name'” They looked at me surprised, Declan said, “Today?” I said, “Yup.” So we went.

It’s not a particularly big city and in my humble opinion not scary at all. As with all cities there are parts and bars that you should avoid after midnight but what’s interesting about working inpatient psychiatry is meeting all the homeless people that live in the city. I generally see several people I’ve taken care of walking the streets and the green and receive waves and nods so I never particularly worry about my safety. I’ve generally met the “Bogeymen” on my unit. They aren’t scary. Just ill.

We walked the streets. We had lunch at a restaurant with live music and chocolate chip pancakes. We saw people of all ethnicities and most importantly we showed the boys that though different from our sleepy town it is not scary and we were not scared to be there.

Considering we live in the Northeast there is significant racism in our “liberal” state. I will not be raising my white sons to fear a place or people because they look or seem different than us. We told them repeatedly that they could tell their class we went to the city and it’s not scary. I hope they did.

Going downtown is challenging because of parking and you know…twins. But we will have to suck it up and do it more frequently in order to raise them with the mentality that suburbia is not the only way to be or the right way to live or the better way.

As I said we are both unsure of staying here. Safety wise we are better off than where we were. But diversity and raising our sons in such a Republican white town, I don’t know that we are better off. The home invasions were real and scary. But white suburbia is apparently just as scary to me.

I don’t know the right answer. I just know that last Sunday we had fun in the scary city.

politics

Gender Journeys

I have the privilege of treating many transgender and non-binary teenagers. I’ve been doing this long enough that now I’ve seen several teens from pre-transition to post.

One time some one came in to see me, they are someone I started seeing prior to transitioning, prior to even telling their parents or anyone else for that matter.

When I saw them in the waiting room I almost didn’t recognize them. The changes were immense. They were now on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and the affects of it were noticeable as they could now pass for their self identified gender.

Some clients respond well to comments about physical changes, some don’t, so I never comment on it. I tried to contain my smile as I thought in my head, ‘There you are,’ Because there they were. Smiling, confident, carrying themselves differently, talking differently, making direct eye contact.

The change is often astounding for me to behold as the dysphoria lifts and the depression eases, to see the person emerge who has always been struggling to come out- there are simply not enough words that describe the impact of that moment. That moment when they walk in and I haven’t seen them in a few months and they are themselves. For maybe the first time ever.

Some one came in who I have been treating for almost six years. I always see them monthly sometimes more frequently than that. They’ve struggled in the past and eventually came out as transgender. After supporting them through coming out to family and then  transitioning and interventions, we finally scheduled our next appointment out two months. For the first time ever in almost six years we both agreed they were doing well enough to push our check in our two months.

Anyone who has seen the before and the after; you can see it’s not just the physical changes. The emotional vibes they give off in the room change. There is a quiet confidence that was absent before.

For those people who have never seen/interacted with/known a trans person from the before to the after…well they are the individuals who make statements like, “I just don’t understand it,” because if you saw the process- the before of the hurt/depression/anxiety/insecurities/self harm/suicide attempts/hospitalizations to the during- coming out to family/friends/healthcare providers/judgement/being disowned/being kicked out/being cut off financially to the treatment- HRT- Shots, side effects, lab work, dealing with pharmacies and transphobic pharmacists/surgeries-secretaries, billing departments/new license/new social security gender marker/transphobia everywhere/insurance companies now not covering a hysterectomy because your gender is “male”…to the after….quiet calm confidence.

If you experienced that moment when I go to get them in the waiting room and almost don’t recognize the person sitting there- but then I scrutinize their face and I think ‘there you are’. There they are. Smiling. Not depressed. No self harm. Not suicidal. Beautiful. If you saw what I see you would have no choice but to “get it”. Because when you bear witness to that over years- it’s impossible to see it with anything but sincere admiration for their strength, resilience, and perseverance in a world that often wants them to fail.

I often have trans clients relay to me stories of transphobia. I do not have one client who has never experienced transphobia. Not one. They all have been discriminated against at some point very openly- either spit at, cursed at, told to leave a restaurant, fired from jobs, and disowned by family.

Recently one client told me they were asked “Are you sure? That you’re trans?” My client laughed, and said, “If there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that.”

Note to reader: Don’t ask that question. It’s rude and invalidating. My client is good-natured and confident and was bothered by it but also recognized the source of the question and was not surprised by their ignorance. Don’t be that ignorant person. 

There is a lot of press lately about transgender medical interventions and the validity of them. A lot of bills being introduced to limit and/or deny accessibility of HRT and surgical interventions for teenagers.

If you’ve seen what I’ve seen and the drastic changes they create in people and teenagers- you would never think to question the validity of interventions. You would only question the intelligence of the people questioning the validity.

In this case though I don’t think it’s a lack of intelligence in our lawmakers. I think it’s a lack of love, kindness, and overt transphobia and hate emboldened by an administration that is potentially the most toxic in our history toward minorities.

To all my genderqueer, gender non-conforming, transgender, non-binary people; I see you. There you are. You are beautiful. Your feelings are valid. Your journey is your truth. I’m sorry to my core that there are people in this country making you feel less than. You deserve better and you have allies.