Receiving the ‘Hater Glare’ on vacation.

This past week my wife and two sons were in New Hampshire. We knew that it is a conservative leaning state at times, as Hilary only won it by about 3,000 votes. I thought fleetingly this year might be a different experience as we hadn’t been there since before the 2016 election, but I didn’t think about it too much. After all we had been there as a couple over a dozen times and had no negative experiences. Perhaps we did though and I just was completely unaware of them living in my Obama happy bubble.

My sons are two year old twin boys. We purchased them lumberjack outfits for Halloween at Carters in NH. Overalls and flannel shirts with work boots. It was chilly enough in New Hampshire for them to wear their new outfits when we were walking one day on the boardwalk down by the lake.

Now picture two two-year olds in overalls, flannels, work boots, and holding hands walking down the boardwalk. It was quite possibly the cutest freaking thing I’ve ever seen. They were chattering excitedly to each other in their “twin talk” (yes that’s a thing and yes they do it). One of my sons realized we were heading toward the beach so he was walking very fast pulling his brother along.

My wife and I were smiling ear to ear and holding hands with each other and the boys intermittently. “Herding cats” my wife says. Literally the cutest moment on earth. Not just because they are my sons. But because it was one of those zen moments. We are in our favorite place, walking next to the lake, the sun is out, but there’s a chill in the air, the leaves are orange and red…just a beautiful moment.

In the distance we noticed a group of about six people. Three couples most likely and all appeared over the age of sixty under the age of eighty. They were walking toward us. We made sure we each held a boy so that we could all walk nicely by them without one of the boys falling on them or something.

Now if I walked by us in that moment I would have smiled and said something obnoxious like “How cute!” Because you could not see those boys in their flannels and overalls and not smile. But I was wrong. Because all six of those adults did not smile at the boys. They gave the boys a once over and then their glares fell onto my wife and I. I made eye contact with all of them who looked, (one looked away), because I’m that type of person. I also was not expecting the hateful looks when there was such a spectacle of beauty occurring.

I’ve got pretty accurate senses about people. I work in psychiatry it’s what I do. These people were throwing hate around with their glares. The moment lasted about five seconds. Because one of my son’s was now trying to run as the beach was just within our reach. And there was no slowing down of either party. Neither one of my sons noticed this exchange. I wouldn’t have either honestly if I hadn’t looked right at them because I was expecting smiles and for fellow human beings to engage with my cute little boys.

It was a silent display of their objection at our family. In the moment it also made all of them look like they were constipated and I was going to ask if they needed to add fiber to their diets but thought better of it and kept walking.

There were so many beautiful connected moments on our vacation yet this is the one I am choosing to write about. Because this is the one that sticks with me that I can’t get over and that I need to get out.

What is the right thing to do in that moment? To acknowledge the hatred in some way? To call them out on it? To actually ask if they need emergency fiber administration? Or to ignore and keep walking?

When will my sons notice these behaviors of strangers? If they are like me, which I fear they are, when will they say something? When will they engage in a pointless battle with a small-minded person? I can’t make every one love my family and I don’t want to. But I do want to be able to walk in public with my family and not be glared at. What if the strangers were younger and more intimidating and more verbal? I asked myself that very question as I watched my sons play on the beach. What would we have done? Grabbed the boys and ran like hell? So many different “what if” scenarios ran through my head and so many scenarios of what I should have said or done differently also.

That moment ruined a safe space for us. A space we have travelled to literally since I was born. It doesn’t mean I won’t return there. Because we will. But I will be more cautious, more aware, and one day my plan is to own a home there and be a registered voter and fight for that swing state to remain blue.

That time my son reached for my wife and not me…

My sons are almost two. I think every mom goes through a period of nostalgia around their kid’s birthdays. I remember the birth obviously, and the horrible fertility crap leading up to the pregnancy. Then the horrible pregnancy that involved vomiting daily to the point that my eyes had broken blood vessels by the end of the pregnancy. Then the horrible C-section. My sons were born just before midnight on November 12th, 2015. Not many people remember, but November 13th was a Friday. I essentially told my doctor to get them out before midnight or I was going home until Saturday because my sons would not be born on Friday the 13th. My Doctor was true to her word and got them out just in the knick of time.

One night last week I came home from work instead of going to a meeting because my sons were battling coughs and I wanted to help put them to bed. I missed them. I came home especially early to spend time with them. Neither of them cared when I walked in, and they didn’t want to cuddle with me at all. It was like a punch in the gut. Then after they fell asleep one of them started to cry and I went up with my wife and he reached for her. Ugh. I literally felt tears stinging my eyes. In their almost two years the- them picking my wife over me- is a new development. For the first year I breastfed so they always picked me. I mean they were obsessed with breastfeeding so they practically leapt on me when I walked through the door. I know it must have hurt my wife to always be skipped over for me. But goddamnit I carried them, I nursed them, and I literally got cut open for them. I feel a little entitled to being chosen first.

To not be was freaking terrible. However, I know it made my wife feel bonded with them which is important.

Then this weekend we were traveling and I brought the worst offender in with me alone to a rest stop while my wife sat with his sleeping brother in the car. When I sat him on the counter while I paid for my coffee he clung to me. I don’t think he had ever been in a rest stop and the noises were a lot for him to manage. Then later we stopped at our favorite diner and he wanted to only sit on my lap and snuggle. All was right with the world again.

But then I was thinking about it and these kids have the ability to make me feel freaking bipolar. I was a mess thinking he didn’t need me like he used to as a baby. I was in mourning for the stages that passed, and here he was needing me again. It was fleeting and tomorrow he will probably make me feel like crap again but I reveled in it for today.

This whole being a mom thing has shaken up my reality. I thought I knew what it was like to be vulnerable to someone having been married and in love and sexually intimate with a partner. But kid’s man. They bring it to a whole new level.

Within a twenty-four hour span I can love him to the point my eyes well up and I think the pain of love can never be so profound. I can despise him for turning the freaking modem off for the hundredth time because he’s too damn smart and finds it everywhere and loves the freaking blinking button. I can laugh at him and with him. I revel in both of their laughs. And I can go through the full gamut of all of these emotions with not one kid but two.

I remember the day we came home from the hospital. I set myself up on our futon in the living room because it was lower than our bed and I could move on and off it more easily with the incision. The boys were swaddled and we laid them on the futon with us and I said, “I just can’t believe there are two,” over and over. It’s totally mind-blowing going from a family of two to a family of four in a matter of ten minutes in the OR.

I feel like some days we’ve got this Mom thing down. Then some days I’m like what the fuck were we thinking? And seriously how do mom’s of triplets or more do it? Because I would die. Literally. I would drop dead if I had more than two. I met a mom in a store right after I had the boys. She told me she was pregnant with triplets. I started to cry. So did she. We both just knew.

So this week with me going through my bipolar mom moments #45 decides to speak at an anti-LGBT convention where they are spreading around pamphlets that call homosexuality a “public health hazard”. While I was cuddling my son today in the diner, and my wife was making my other son laugh his deep belly laugh in the booth with us. I sighed because it was a perfect moment of love. And all I could picture was that pamphlet. This, this moment of light and love, is being called a hazard because of our family make-up. I felt sad, slightly defeated, and scared for what’s to come.

If love and light and acceptance are now considered a hazard. I fear for the future of our country. I fear for my sons. As I go through my every day because I’m a lesbian mom every interaction within my family has a tinge of fear. Will this be the last day we can do this in public? Will this be the last time we are welcomed in this restaurant? I try to see beyond the fear and just live in the moment and breathe it in. But it’s taxing. I try and shelter my sons from the hatred engulfing our administration. But it’s exhausting. I try and enjoy being a normal mom. But I’m not. According to some I’m a hazard.

Don’t be silent.

Stuff on my desk.

That book in the picture is an amazing reference guide for any one who is transgender or who treats transgender clients or who knows some one who is transgender.

Background. I’m a big fan of books. Paper books- not the shit on kindle. First order of business in our new house was not the potentially leaking roof but the built-in’s I want built in our new living room. Irrational…yes. I’m okay with it.

Back to Trans Bodies Trans Selves. I wrote a blog post about coming out as a provider. Putting pictures up of my family in my office was a big deal for me. Then I started treating transgender clients and I realized me being a lesbian was not enough. Because there are plenty of lesbians who unfortunately may discriminate against those who identify as transgender. I also felt like some families were okay with me being a lesbian but maybe not accepting of transgender individuals. And not for nothing but they could potentially be in the waiting room at the same time and I don’t want my transgender folks feeling anything but acceptance.

Hence the big green book on my desk. It sits right on the edge facing out towards all my clients. You literally can’t miss it. I have a few other books about transgender clients scattered around my office too. I’m anything but subtle.

But my ploy worked. One of my clients made a lot of “should” statements about transgender individuals and then said, “But I wanted to ask you about it, because I know you see a lot of them or something, and one of my friends thinks he might be transgender,” and gestured toward the books.

It’s not my job to educate others about being transgender or agender or non-binary. But it’s a role I fully embrace. Because my clients who are not transgender may have no understanding of it, and they have a safe nonjudgmental space to now ask about it. We can explore their biases around it and they can ask questions in a judgement-free zone that may be inappropriate to ask a transgender individual. I’ve pulled out the Trans Bodies book and we’ve looked at pictures and read parts of it.

It is not my intention to make clients be pro-transgender people. But it is my intention to provide education when it is asked for in an objective manner. It’s a hard line to walk, because I don’t want to impose my beliefs on others. But at the same time I’m making it known that I am a lesbian provider who is accepting of all people who enter my office. I think providing a space to air beliefs wether I agree with them or not is important. Open dialogues are necessary in order for people to grow and learn and really feel another person’s perspective.

I had never mentioned to that particular client anything about my work with LGBT individuals prior to them raising that question. But because they saw my books laying around, and my other LGBT welcoming signs and posters they knew that they could ask a question.

I’ve had other clients bring up their transgender family members or friends. I’ve gotten referrals from people based only on these books laying around my office.

Non-verbal messages are incredibly powerful.

If you own a business or you are in healthcare or have the ability to create a safe space for LGBT individuals just do it. You may think it’s a small thing to put a rainbow flag or the transgender flag on your bulletin board or the human rights equality sticker on your car, but it’s not. We take notice. We feel safer and we are more likely to open up to you. We are more likely to come back to your place of business and to refer our friends there.

Instead of our country focusing on how to shut out people from business perhaps we should talk about how to bring our business in.

There are people who probably disagree with me for utilizing my office space to put a controversial issue out there. I respect your opinions and we have to agree to disagree. If #45 can use his office to trample on transgender rights in a loud/abuse of power type of way then I’m going to use mine to provide safety to a marginalized population in our society who are dying by murder and by suicide.

My books provide an opening to a dialogue. The dialogue can be uncomfortable and eye-opening, and painful. But those are the only dialogues worth having…no?

Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”

Albus Dumbledore

“I’m a good person” maybe.

I love working in psychiatry. I am enlightened in so many ways every day. Recently a patient said to me, “I’m really a good person. You know, I am heterosexual, I had kids, I worked, I did what I was supposed to do.” The litany went on but I was still stuck at her first statement. I am always being exposed to viewpoints that completely go against my own and then I have to remain totally objective and unaffected.

I had to continue my interview with that patient as if I was not homosexual. As if her statement that her being a good person by being heterosexual hadn’t just sent my brain into a tailspin. That takes some self control and an amazing poker face. I’m happy to say I’ve mastered both…in that particular situation. In other facets of my life there is no poker face. People who know me well can attest to that.

There is SO much negativity in the news about the LGBT community lately. I mean since November 2016 really. Because we have an administration who apparently thinks the death penalty is okay for all us gays. Fuck you very much. But anyway, not only am I accosted by anti-LGBT news on my Facebook and WordPress feed but also in my work. Because in case people haven’t notice, the LGBT community has never tried to not care for others who are straight. We’ve never turned away people from our businesses because they are straight. We are an eclectic, diverse, but overall rather accepting community.

I continued my job in that moment with that patient as if what they said made no difference to me. I provided the same care to that patient that I provided to all twenty-five of my patients that day. It’s only after work that I let that statement sink in and resonate with me. It brought up some stuff.

The one time I met my wife’s mother she preached a lot about religion. She asked at one point how my moral compass was guided. Not those words but same message. I told her that I follow the laws of our community and I try and be a good person. She started talking over me and said something like “Yes so you try and be a good person just like most of the people in society.” But in a rather condescending like “Poor you, you actually don’t know what you are talking about and are actually far beneath me in terms of morality” type of tone. That didn’t sit well with me. Obviously, because I still remember it almost eight years later.

It irks me that because I am married to a woman my morality and ethics are questioned by others. It angers me that the choice of my life partner apparently has bearing on what kind of a person I am. Because I am married to a woman I have to prove that I am a good person?

I’m a firm believer in “actions speak.” It’s a philosophy that to me is raw and honest and that’s how I roll.

So what makes a good person? Apparently not sleeping with the same gender so I’m already off the list. Perhaps owning a gun? I’m definitely out then. Being white? That’s one check in my column. Protesting birth control and abortion? Yeah screw that.

So by the #45’s rules I’m a bad perhaps even “nasty” woman.

I’m cool with that.

If being bad means I provide comprehensive care to all my patients regardless of their religious beliefs then I’m there. If being a bad person means being open to all religions, all ethnicities, and all genders (pre and post op)…then I’m horrible. I never want to own a gun. I never want an abortion but should I need one I better be able to get one. And I’m not divorcing my wife anytime soon, but I’ll fight to the death for my right to marry and/or divorce her.

There’s this private practice I know of that advertises itself as being “transgender owned”. I thought that was weird at first. Because I was like why does it matter? But now I get it. I opened my own practice with a business partner so it’s partially lesbian owned. And I’m damned proud of it. It’s important for the LGBT community to own businesses, to work in our community, to be accepting when others are not. To continue living our lives, to not move to Canada but to move to freaking Alabama.

I personally will not go silently into the night. I’m going to grow my business to be a huge success. And maybe #45 will do one freaking thing he said during his campaign and lower taxes for small businesses (there’s an automatic federal 30% business tax off our profits) and then he will be doing this nasty lesbian woman a big freaking favor. And I will happily hold a sign standing outside the white house wearing a nasty woman shirt with a big thank-you sign while holding up my middle finger (seriously if that happens I will post the picture and write a blog post. That’s a promise and you know I take my promises seriously).

It’s hard to live in today’s world as a lesbian trying to work, raise children, pay taxes, and “live the dream” seeing the constant chipping away of our rights by the government and not feel anger. I am angry that Obama and Clinton haven’t come forward with harsh words for our current administration. We need leaders and voices. Thank-you Jimmy Fallon. I’m angry the democrats in congress and the senate haven’t been more forthright in their defense of us. I’m angry that we are such a freaking polite society that people are sitting back and watching the LGBT community victimized on a daily basis. I’m angry that I’m not a bad person yet I’m being categorized as such because I fell in love.

My heart also breaks for all the younger LGBT individuals whose entrance into our community is marred by hatred. You are not bad people. You are beautiful. And I’m standing next to you.

 

Death. And this Dyke.

I’m no stranger to death.

The first death I witnessed was in a NICU in nursing school. A physician held her finger on the infant’s heart and literally kept the heartbeat going until the parents were present and she yelled out to the room of about fifty people “I’m open to suggestions” but her voice cracked on suggestions. The room went eerily silent and then she pulled her finger off the infant’s heart and that was the end.

In the pediatric emergency department I was called the “black cloud” because I was usually on when shit went down. Meaning kids died. There were a variety of ways in which people died. There were also times when we would have to give heartbreaking diagnoses to unsuspecting families and terms like “inoperable” and “comfort care” were tossed around.

That part of my life was rough. Watching kids die takes a toll emotionally and physically. It’s not a job I could do forever and I was in tune enough with myself to know that.

But now I hear my clients talk about death in a myriad of manners and I am brought to my knees in a whole new way.

A common fear among my transgender clients is being murdered. One of their biggest fears and obstacles sometimes to transitioning is being murdered.

Every day I see an article of Facebook about transgender individuals who are murdered, and so do my clients. Then I have to sit in a therapy session with them and explore this.

Here’s the deal. When one of my anxious clients has an irrational fear I can usually in good conscious say “That’s not going to happen” (I mean I say it more therapeutically than that but that’s the general idea). But when a transgender client fears for their safety I can’t negate it. That literally fucking kills me.

How horrible is it to sit across from an individual and want to support them in their journey to their authentic self, but have to also support them in their fears that by being themselves they might be murdered.

That’s heavy.

I think somewhere in my head there is a fear for my safety as a lesbian. But based on where I live, the people I surround myself with, and my karate experience (this is a j/k moment. I literally only got my green belt but in my head I feel like I’m actually a black belt super ninja). I don’t live with that fear minute by minute or hour by hour. It’s only there when I’m somewhere down South if I’m being really honest. And if I fear for my safety I may fear verbal abuse or discrimination, I don’t take the leap in my head to murder. But transgender people are being killed. It’s a real thing. If you don’t know about the cases then educate yourself.

Honestly seeing something happen fast in the emergency department was almost easier to cope with then being let into clients private hopes and dreams and feeling the fear with them and overall I guess just caring more deeply.

Clients are not always aware of the impact they have on providers. Because we have to remain somewhat detached and objective during sessions.

Speaking human to human though, it is impossible to sit with someone and hear that their fear of being murdered is stopping them from living life the way they feel they should and not feel something.

It is impossible to sit with them in that knowledge as they proceed bravely toward their transition and not feel something.

Watching and supporting someone courageous enough to face death for being themselves is awesome and inspiring and terrifying and beautiful.

Your providers are feeling all of this for you. At least this provider is.

Perhaps there will come a day in my career when I can tell a transgender client that they do not have to fear discrimination or hate or murder. But today is not that day. Today I can tell them I admire them and as I sit in my living room with a fire blazing on this cold October night, I am thinking of them.

It’s not a phase.

I was asked by a friend recently to give a lecture to students studying psychiatry about treating LGBTQ youth. I decided I wanted to make a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” as part of the presentation. I started asking my clients their experiences with healthcare providers: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I took away a few things from these discussions. I did not have one client on my caseload who had not in some way experienced discrimination in the form of micro aggression from healthcare providers. I also did not have one client who was absolutely horrified by their experience. They all relayed to me stories very easily and with flat affects about these awful experiences. They only became somewhat upset about it when I reflected to them how terribly they had been treated in those moments. Overall they had a calm acceptance of how they had been treated and discriminated against.

All of these clients who had been shamed, questioned, and put down by healthcare providers who they were supposed to be able to trust, were under the age of twenty-two.

Some of these clients I knew for awhile. These small moments of discrimination had never been shared before I asked. Thank God I asked. Why hadn’t I asked before? I had asked all of them at some point about discrimination they faced. But I never specifically asked about that discrimination being within healthcare.

Micro-aggression is an amazing term. It captures the daily put-downs and small discriminatory acts that cause the break down of people’s souls.

In the “What not to say” list one of my clients said to tell people “Never ask if it’s a phase.”

It’s not a phase.

By the time a person comes out to a healthcare provider they know it’s not a phase. They’ve likely been tortured by thoughts and feelings for years and over time developed language of their own to name themselves as gay or lesbian or queer or transgender or whatever.

It has never crossed my mind to ask clients if this is a phase. Because even if their sexual attraction or gender identity changes and develops over time I would not demean their narrative down to a “phase”. It’s not the role of any healthcare provider to question a person’s self-definition in a demeaning manner.

Healthcare providers are in a unique position. We are a necessity for people because our human bodies are fragile so every one in the LGBTQ community will have at least one experience in their lifetime with some sort of provider. If an individual presents for mental health services they didn’t just decide to come in for services. They have been thinking and thinking and picking up to call and hanging up and canceling the intake, and rescheduling, so when they finally make it through the door to be asked if it’s a phase just made that entire struggle worthless. They walked through the door looking for a safe space and instead found more ignorance and intolerance.

Microaggression is defined as “a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.” per Google Dictionary.

It’s calling your transgender son “her, she” or “daughter” for the thousandth time even though they’ve been out as a male for a year. It’s a question of the validity of your belief that you identify as gay or lesbian or bisexual. It’s an assumption that because you’re a gay male you have HIV or you’re a slut or you want to be my bestie and go to the mall with me. It’s the assumption that your lesbian daughter’s girlfriend made your daughter this way. It’s the displacement of blame for something that should not be seen as a problem in the first place. It’s outing your child to people they are not ready to be out to. It’s seeing headlines in the news every day of transgender people being murdered and reading the comments from people who feel this was an act of justice. It’s living next to neighbors who you’re not sure are LGBTQ friendly. It’s being on edge everywhere you go and in every interaction you have with every person in a 24 hour period.

It’s so many little things that happen daily in the lives of LGBTQ youths that scrape away their self worth that leads to the high rates of depression and the high suicide rate.

Suicide rate is such a pretty term for young people killing themselves.

This is a message to all my fellow healthcare providers in whatever capacity you interact with LGBTQ individuals do it with compassion and validation because kids are dying. Don’t let your own beliefs interfere with the implicit oath you take by working in healthcare that you will provide quality care to all individuals. All providers should be safe spaces for all minorities.

Don’t ask if it’s a phase. It’s not.

Don’t tell them their sexual orientation or gender identity isn’t important to the care you are providing. It is.

Do ask if they feel depressed. Do ask if they have thoughts about dying.

Don’t screw up the potentially one and only contact with healthcare a person has before they die because of ignorance and hate.

10 Questions You’re Not Allowed to Ask a Lesbian

  1. “How do lesbians have sex?” 
    1. This question is inappropriate to ask of anyone, why people think it’s okay to ask lesbians is beyond me. If you would like more information on this subject please reference here (It’s not a link to porn).
  2. “How did you get pregnant? Did you like inject the sperm?” 
    1. Please see “How lesbians get pregnant”
  3. “Did your wife breastfeed too?” 
    1. Yes I’ve been asked this. Again I think this falls into the “It’s none of your business” category. She didn’t for the record. Any question having to do with another person’s private parts (genitals and/or breasts) are quite intimate and should not be asked unless you have an intimate relationship with the person.
  4. “So when did you choose this lifestyle?” 
    1. Sigh. Yes I’ve been asked this. So has my wife. For me I agree it was a choice. I mean I didn’t choose to fall in love with my wife. I certainly wasn’t trying to. But it happened. I could be content with a male. My wife however was born gay. She would never have chosen this especially after everything she has lost. Now that I’m married I really resent the term “lifestyle”. It’s not a style; it’s my fucking life. I live and breathe my wife and my kids and to have it demeaned down to a “style” pisses me off. My style is if I’m into bellbottoms or leather. Not my family and the people I love. They are not a trend or a passing fancy. They are my life. Not my style.
  5. But don’t your kids need a Dad?”
    1. Short answer is No. Longer answer is here. That blog post lists statistics showing there is no damage done to children raised by single moms or two moms or two dads. Parenting is about fostering healthy attachments and love- that’s what creates healthy adults.
  6. (This question is for us “beautifully curved” lesbians who end up married to a woman but who used to date men and would probably date men again aka Me) “So does this mean you are bisexual?”
    1. I cringe when people ask me this. Most don’t now that I’m married to a woman. But I was definitely asked this a lot by people from my past who knew I dated men previously. It just doesn’t feel like it fits me. I’m not into labels. Just accept that I am married to a woman and don’t try to stick me in an uncomfortable box because it makes you feel better. Same goes for asking if some one is a lesbian or gay or transgender or whatever. People may not fit into a nice label for you. Live with it.
  7. “How do you know you don’t like being with a guy?”
    1. In most cases we’ve tried it. If we haven’t- then my reverse question to a straight male would be “How do you know you wouldn’t like being with a guy?” You just kind of know. Anal sex may not be that appealing to you, or perhaps the male body in general just turns you off. Well that’s generally how lesbians feel about males. The attraction and desire isn’t there.
  8. “Who’s the husband in your marriage?” (“Who’s the man?” “Who’s the guy?”)
    1. There isn’t one. We both have vagina’s. Hence the whole lesbian thing. People in our society have a binary view of relationships- one must be male and one must be female. The whole gay thing should do away with that but it doesn’t. Because my wife has short hair people assume she’s more masculine, when in reality she takes way longer to do her hair and emotionally she’s definitely the female. So just because one lesbian in the relationship looks more masculine doesn’t mean they identify more as male than female. That’s called an assumption.
  9. “So does that mean you are into threesome’s?”
    1. Short answer No. My wife and I were at a bar in Manhattan once. We went away for an overnight just because. It was a vodka bar, and there were a couple business men at the bar with us. We were trying to enjoy the night away in the city and this one man in particular kept hitting on us. I told him we were married and he laughed and said, “So?” Like I want to go to Manhattan for a romantic night with my wife and pick up some drunk loser in a vodka bar?! No. The answer will always be no. So stop. I remember thinking if I was here with a man I wouldn’t have to deal with this shit. That pissed me off more. We left that bar and found another without a drunk asshole trying to pick us up. Wherever we go because we are two females we attract straight male attention because they seem to find it intriguing. For the record we couldn’t find them less intriguing.
  10. “Why do you need a gay pride? Why can’t I have straight pride?”
    1. I’m going to make a comparison here. 3rd Rock From the Sun is one of my all time favorite TV shows. Dick (the main character) learns about the Black student union at the university where he teaches and it eats away at him that he can’t go to it (he’s white). So he asks around and tries to find the white student union (there isn’t one) and then he asks about white pride stuff, and he ends up at a Klan rally. There is no white student union or white pride because white people are privileged already and they have never had to fight for equal rights.
    2. Straight pride happens every day; in every movie, in every television commercial, on every magazine cover. Heterosexual couples are the “norm” and homosexual couples have to fight for our rights to exist. So yes, we are going to take some time and bring some awareness to our fight for equality. We don’t need gay pride. We need a way to bring faces and names to our struggle and to shine light on our fight. Since I started writing this blog post so many of my heterosexual friends and family members have told me “I’ve read so many things that I never thought of before.” These are unbiased people who are related to a lesbian being enlightened. Because unless you live our life every day you don’t know the struggles we face. Taking a day, a weekend, a month to shove the LGBT people into people’s faces is fine in my book. We need the exposure otherwise people forget that we exist and stop caring. Sad but true.

I’m sure there are many other questions lesbians have been asked that are rude or inappropriate. Curiosity is natural and I have much more patience and compassion when I know I am being asked questions from a place of kindness and a person who is just trying to understand. But at the same time I’m not asking for anyone to understand me. I’m just trying to live my life the way I want to.

Before you ask a lesbian a question think about it- do you need to know this or do you want to know? Would you be offended if someone asked you this question? Are you lowering your voice to say it out loud? If any of these are true you probably shouldn’t be asking.

Why I’m Not Wearing Underwear

So this whole C-section business is very misrepresented.

Also the whole twin pregnancy situation.

Here’s the situation. I’ve lost weight since giving birth twenty-two months ago. But there remains a couple things that people don’t tell you about before a C-Section. 1- a large scar and 2- a pooch. In my case a large pooch. A pooch my friends is stretched out skin and likely fat now, that may never go back into where it used to be. I did not have a six pack pre-baby but I could wear button jeans in a size 10. That was my happy slim size. I am 5’7″ and when I was at my healthiest in terms of diet and exercise it was a comfortable size 10. Now I think of a size 10 as some far off dream land that I will never see again.

Because even if I get pants in my “size” they don’t quite make it around the pooch and then they kind of push in on my scar, and the whole thing is just freaking uncomfortable. Enter the world of “Mom” pants. I never knew why mom pants had elastic waistbands. I assumed it was because all mom’s got fat and lazy. Just kidding. Sort of. I didn’t realize that it was because mom’s have babies which leaves your body a fucking mess.

I discovered the world of stretchy pants. Because buttons just freaking hurt. When I voiced this to my friend, also a mom of twins, she said it took her six years to be able to wear jeans with buttons. SIX YEARS! Other mom’s I’ve talked to have said 2-6 years yes.

Now let’s talk about underwear. Today I went to put underwear on after a shower. I had recently purchased some new sets. Yes they are the right size. But if they go above the scar then they kind of roll down because of the freaking pooch and if they go below the pooch it hurts the scar and has a weird look of muffin-top-ish through my pants. So I tried on three pairs this morning after my shower. Becoming more and more upset with each pair. The last pair I actually put the pants on too and was like come on suck it up it’s fine it’s just underwear.

I felt it start to roll down the pooch under my pants…I started to cry. I went to pull down my pants to try on another pair, when I remembered my cotton pairs are down in the dryer, so with my pants at my knees I grabbed scissors in my drawer and cut off the offensive pair threw them in the wastebasket, stopped crying, said “Fuck this” and am now not wearing underwear.

The first year I breastfed. I had to keep a supply up for twins and my breastmilk supply would tank without carbs. So I had a really hard time the first year trying to lose because I had to eat so damn much to keep up the supply. Now I am into the second year. I am proud to say I am losing. I am exercising more, and I am eating much fewer carbs and more vegetables. I’ve probably dropped pant sizes but I refuse to try them on yet. I’m good with yoga pants and dressier yoga pants. My bras got bigger and my shirts pre-pregnancy are starting to fit again which is great. But it’s hard. I have a lot more respect for Mom’s who are overweight now than I ever did before.

Because I don’t feel good about myself, and I’m sure other mom’s with baby weight still hanging on also don’t feel good. It’s also really sucky to not be able to buy sexy underwear or just any underwear that’s not plain cotton from the maternity store for going on two years now. Our society praises the young thin and beautiful. But most women’s bodies have scars. We have stretch marks. We are thick. We have droopy boobs because of breastfeeding. We have pooches- some bigger than others- and that’s okay. We have dark circles under our eyes because let’s face it even when they aren’t babies they still don’t sleep or maybe that’s just mine.

Recently I went to work with my hair done, jewelry on, make-up done, and looking confident because I was wearing a pre-baby shirt. Two co-workers commented on how good I looked and I’m like- so this is how I used to look every day- what the fuck have I been rolling in looking like for the past twenty-two months? But then I was thinking, well probably looking like I was up all night with two babies. Walking out the door getting spit up on. Walking out the door without my make-up on or forgetting to brush my teeth. I learned fast as a mom to have double supplies- one set at home and one set at work.

I remember feeling like I should get a medal every morning walking into work when I first went back with twenty week old twins. It was a freaking miracle we all made it out the door in the morning.

I’m going about my fitness and health journey in my own way and in my own time. I’m trying not to pressure myself and just letting things happen. I’m trying to make healthy choices and I’m seeing the results.

But I’d support any mom who says fuck it and eats her bowl of ben & jerry’s every night because that’s her five minutes of heaven after a day and night of hell.

My point to this is that we as women and Mom’s should support each other. We also shouldn’t be trying to live up to this crazy ideal society places on us. I mean did you see George Clooney’s wife three months after giving birth to twins? I wanted to kill her. But I recognize that she clearly had a different journey than mine. I’m trying to respect that and not want to kill her. It’s hard.

Anyway. Any time you or your wife loses her mind over underwear or jeans or a bra or a shirt in a post-baby body. Just hug yourself or hug her and say we will get there. But if you have to cut the offensive piece of clothing off to feel good, then fucking do it.

Dykes and Privilege

There’s this quiz floating around Facebook about how privileged you are. I took it. I got 36% out of 100%. Basically not privileged. There were a couple reasons. It asked questions about curly hair assuming the answers would only pertain to Black people. I am not Black, but I have excessively curly hair and I’ve had all kinds of questions about it over the years including people asking to touch it. The quiz also asked about gender identity and sexual orientation. I’m pretty sure that the fact I identify within my assigned gender is the only reason I even got 36%. Because based off of my curly hair, lesbian status, and female status I was assumed to be a Black female lesbian and told I have no privilege in the USA.

This made laugh because honestly if I didn’t laugh I would cry.

First off I thought a male had to make this quiz up because what idiot doesn’t realize white women have curly hair too? Then I felt bad because I was making horrible generalizations about some stupid white guy sitting in front of a computer screen in his mom’s basement or something. But I couldn’t stop myself. Then I felt bad that literally the only difference they could come up with between the rich African American culture and white people was curly hair that looks fake. Are you kidding me?

Then I couldn’t get it out of my head. Because my sons are white males. I have no idea how they will identify in terms of gender or sexual identity but they already have white male privilege. They came out of the womb one step ahead of most of the population. What do I do with that? How do I raise boys into men?

Like any person with a question I googled it.

There are a lot of articles about how to raise Black men and how to raise Christian men but not so many about how to raise white boys into men. Because it’s just intuition? Because people assume they will just make it? I can tell you the most awful experiences of discrimination I have witnessed and faced have been from white straight males. A Queer friend of mine made the exact same statement recently, that walking down the street she is most terrified of white males. Because they have privilege? Because they can say what they want and get away with it?

Having babies seems easy compared to raising men. I want them to be compassionate and kind but not weak, tough but not aggressive. The country is so divided right now and people’s ideas of what a man looks like are so different. I’m trying to enjoy their pudgy faces and bellies and ignore the unease settling into my stomach about who they will become. But occasionally I get glimpses. They look at me sideways or with a mischievous little grin and I can see a boy in there not a toddler.

Parenting unites people across religions, races, and sexual identities. Because we all want the same thing for our kids…at least that’s what I used to think. I’m learning that some parents want their kids to be happy based on their own definitions of happiness- cookie cutter house, heterosexual marriage, kids, etc. While some parents want their kids to define their own happiness even if it is anti-everything their parents have taught them. I want my kids to be good people, don’t we all? But my definition of good people is clearly different from my wife’s parents who think good people attend church twice a week, are straight, disown any one who isn’t straight, and don’t question religion. Whereas my definition of good people is more broad, more complicated I guess.

I feel like this is the shit kids should be talking about in school. What makes some one good? What makes someone nice? What makes someone mean? What defines a bully? Because my definition is clearly different from a person who believes in white supremacy. At the end of the day who’s right? And how the hell do I teach that to my kids?

Parenting is so much more than the 3 AM feedings, and the constant vacuuming, running around, and wiping aways snots and tears. It’s a daily life lesson in love, happiness, and morality. What do you choose to fight your kids on? What battles are the important ones? For two lesbians raising two babies into men it feels more complicated some days. I can’t take away white privilege. It’s unfortunately just there. But how do we teach them to harness it and not abuse it?

And one day if they are identifying differences between two ethnicities will they be humble and open-minded enough to recognize that hair does not delineate an entire race? And that perhaps we don’t need a quiz to tell us about white male privilege? But then I’m like why did I even take the quiz?

Race is such a loaded topic I’ve been hesitant to address it in here in a blog post. But when I started this site I promised myself to get into the nitty gritty. I am white. I am aware there is white privilege. This is based off my life experiences and my experiences working in healthcare for the last decade. Assumptions are made all the time about minorities. Like in the emergency department one time, a woman of Color accused me of racism. It was groundless, she was not in her right mind at the time. But still, my co-workers came up to me to make sure I was okay throughout the night because the whole scene was very intense. After the sixth person said “Of all people, I know you didn’t say anything racist,” I finally asked, okay so why does everyone keep saying “of all people”? The response floored me, “Well because your dating a woman. Your gay, duh.” So because I’m with a woman I can’t be racist? That was the assumption made by literally all of my co-workers. In my case it worked out. I’m not racist. However, I was appalled. Because I certainly know gay people who are racist. Just like I know gay people who voted for #45. Which literally makes me want to vomit, but moving on.

My point is that not all minorities like each other. There are plenty of Hispanics and African Americans who are not pro-gay. And not all gay people are pro-every other minority. It’s weird I know. It’s also weird that some LGBQ people don’t support transgender folks. I’m thinking there’s just not enough of us to split hairs. I’ll take all the friends I can get.

I’m going to close now with a memory from seventh grade. I was sitting next to my friend. I had known him forever. We were best friends through middle school from the age of 4 or 5. Our science teacher wanted to do a class devoted to “diversity” so we had to come up with a list of 5 differences between us. I named one, “boy/girl” then I literally sat there chewing my pencil unable to come up with anything. He looked at me like I was the biggest idiot on the planet and said, “Uh, I’m half-Black!” I was like, oh yeah, sure, write that down. I was so floored by that revelation. I literally had never thought of him as Black or white. He was just my friend and always had been. I felt uncomfortable and weird and wanted to say just take that back buddy. I didn’t want that to be a difference between us. But it was. We never talked about it again. We both lived in the whitest of white towns, and there he was half Black. And I literally never brought it up again, and neither did he.

“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

When you don’t have any nipples.

It’s more common than you might think.

So I have nipples. I have never not had nipples. They look a little different now that I’ve breastfed twin boys for eleven months. But they are still there.

The field of mental health teaches me lessons regularly. I see people at their most vulnerable. I am trusted with secrets and truths that will go to my grave with me. I am constantly and profoundly touched by the human condition that presents and unfolds in front of me.

There are two main sources of clients who don’t have nipples. Women who have had mastectomies and transgender men who have had chest reductions and opted to not have their nipples replaced. I’ve had both types of clients in my office.

(I know this is a blog about being a lesbian, but this post is going to veer more toward a commentary on the strife transgender individuals face. My site is trans-affirmative, non-binary supportive, agender accepting, and any one who feels otherwise is entitled to start their own blog post and write about it there. Judgemental and bigoted comments will not be tolerated here.)

Cancer survivors are respected, revered even. My mom is one of them. So is my Aunt, my grandmother, and many close friends. I have lost friends and family members to cancer. I have a sincere respect for cancer and the battle that was fought against it by all the survivors.

Transgender males who receive top surgery have been through some shit. To come out as transgender alone risks losing one’s family and friends. To then proceed with one’s transition- in whatever fashion that may shape up to be- again leaves one open to constant derision. My clients who have decided to transition, who then decide to have top surgery then also face the choice of having or not having their nipples replaced.

This brings a myriad of issues that some one who has not had top surgery may not think about. If a person is college aged and they identify as male and they live on a floor with shared showers they now have to navigate the dreaded “locker room” or “shower room”. People on their floor may not know they are transgender. They likely just assume the person is male. The transgender male now must approach the group showers and either decide to just do it and go in with just a towel and no shirt and figure out how they are going to explain the “sans” nipple appearance, or they have to wear a bathrobe, slide into the shower with the bathrobe on, take it off once in the shower and try and hang it somewhere while they shower then turn shower off, put robe back on, without showing naked body to any other males in the shower room.

That whole process may take less then fifteen minutes. But it’s something they have to do every freaking day. Fifteen minutes of possible torture/panic/anxiety every day.

Showering is supposed to be relaxing and peaceful. But to a person with no nipples and a transgender identification it can be hell.

People sometimes have this image in their head that once transgender individuals go on hormones or have those surgeries (there is often some vague notion of something to do with boobs and genitals but no actual knowledge of what these surgeries might entail) that the transgender journey is complete. I wrote in one of my blogs that coming out isn’t a one time thing, it’s a lifelong dilemma. That’s how it is for people who identify as transgender. It’s not just “Got my top surgery, I’m good now.” Top surgery means no more binders, yay, but now there are brand new obstacles to overcome.

These clients of mine are often young. They are brave and I have the utmost regard for them. If you have the preconceived notion that transgender individuals choose this life for themselves I can tell you that you are wrong. No one would choose to live in a body that doesn’t fit. No one would choose to then go through emotional and physical pain to alter their body to fit their gender identity only to then have to face potentially 15 minutes of absolute horror on a daily basis when all they want to do is shower without fear of judgement. Without fear for their safety. Without fear.

I cannot pretend to understand what it is like to walk in the shoes of some one who is transgender. But I can raise my voice and say You are Beautiful. I can write my blog post about not having nipples, and raise awareness to perhaps just 15 minutes of a day in the life.

I will also say that whether or not an individual has nipples under their military uniform makes no difference in their ability to carry a gun and wear the uniform.

An important note before I close. Do not ever ask some one if they have nipples. It’s none of your freaking business. Do not ever ask some one what their genitalia includes or doesn’t. It’s rude. And again, it shouldn’t matter. Most people think this is common sense. But I have never met a transgender individual who has not been inappropriately asked about their chests and genitalia.

Today or tomorrow when you go to take a shower. Just think about the freedom you have in your own body and the comfort. And remember that not every one has that, and they need support in their fight to get it.