Transphobia and Homophobia and Excuses.

Recently a client told me a story of them walking in a grocery store and being approached by a random woman who simply stated, “Why don’t you just be the (gender) you were born to be?” My client is trans.

My client is good natured and did not respond, just smiled and wished them a nice day and walked away. They relayed it to me with good humor and no malice. “They were older, they were of a different generation,” all the excuses they could give for that woman they did.

But it rubbed me wrong. I am very protective of my Queer clients and frankly it pissed me off. I’m sick of the excuses allowed for people who are homophobic and transphobic. Just because you are of a “different generation” does not provide allowances for being hateful and discriminatory.

I come back to my Nana. She was 90! She accepted her two gay granddaughters and our kids. She accepted her Queer niece without question. She was born in the 1920’s and she was clearly of a different generation. But she loved her family and would not do anything to hurt us.

“Yes but she was so lovely and kind,” I can hear it now…the excuses. Why my Nana could be accepting and tolerant and others can’t be. I don’t want to hear it. I’m sick of hearing it. I’m sick of the hate being excusable based on your age, religion, or ethnicity.

There are no acceptable excuses for homophobia and transphobia. None. Not one.

I’m part of a lesbian moms group and a frequent topic of conversation is “What do you say when some one asks you about how you had your kids?” or “How do you respond when some one asks ‘who is the real mom'”? People generally are kind in these responses. I am less so. I am sick of being kind in the face of ignorance and malice.

As a minority do you have any idea how exhausting it is to be the one to take the high road? But then if we respond with any type of anger or sarcasm we are “bitchy or PMS-ing or giving lesbians a bad name” or whatever.

I’m tired. I’m tired of hearing story after story of people being fired from their jobs for being Queer (YES it happens and is legal in most states). I’m tired of feeling like I should be kind when people ask me intimate questions about how my kids were conceived. Because honestly what happened with my vagina, cervix and uterus is none of your business.

I’m tired of trying to engage conservative websites and pages by asking questions in a non-confrontational and non-insulting way (but bringing to the surface hatred and discrimination) and instead of having a dialogue with me being blocked. How can we create change if the conservative right won’t even have a dialogue with an individual on the left? I don’t understand! They call us snowflakes yet they cannot even bother to answer my questions. They just block me. To date roughly ten facebook pages and blog pages have blocked me. After not once answering my questions. But I’m the snowflake. Eyeroll.

I’m tired of hearing about the homophobic administration and all their bullshit.

What keeps me going? The Queer youth. The trans kids I meet who are brave enough to transition in this awful climate of transphobia where WE are DYING. Suicide and Homicide are taking us. Yet my trans clients persist. They wake up and face each day with an inner strength and fortitude that I am consistently awed by.

The Queer youth who are gay and lesbians and bisexual who fear coming out to their parents and friends but who do it anyway because they are not snowflakes. They are the strongest people I know.

I’m tired yet I persist because the Queer community persists. Because even in the darkest of times all you need to do is turn on the light. (Albus Dumbledore)

If you are old it’s not an excuse. If you are young it’s not an excuse. If you are religious it’s not an excuse. There is no excuse for discrimination, intolerance, and hatred. Cowards hide behind age and religion. True strength lies in every Queer youth waking up to live another day in this state of adversity. Rock on. 

And to the old lady in the grocery store. Come see me. I’m happy to explain why they are not the gender they were “born” to be with a full bibliography of references. Also: stop going up to random people you don’t know and feel it’s okay to make statements and judgments to them about their gender identity or sexual orientation. It’s not nice, it’s wrong on many levels, and could be considered harassment which is illegal. Just stop.

Otherwise I feel it may be my duty to start going up to random old women making transphobic statements asking “Why are you not being the kind loving person you were born to be?” 

Twins First Haircut…And Homophobia

Brought my sons to the barber for the first time. Up to now it’s been me pinning Jackson to floor attempting to do a fade up the side of his head. Usually it all ends up shaved off because he moves so much and screams and cries.

I’ve had my sister do it, but I still have to hold him down, and he still screams. My wife and I talked and we thought he’d be better behaved in an actual barbershop. With men. Because like it or not that boy is drawn to men.

Figures he got stuck with two Moms. Declan could care less. About his hair being cut, men, women, etc. That makes him sound like the easy child. He’s not.

So I went to a barbershop in a town nearby. It was walk in only and I called ahead to make sure they were good with twin toddlers. We walked in and there were two rather large and bulky barbers and a shop full of men either getting cut or waiting for their turn.

The owner turned on the big screen mounted up on a wall and went to Starz. Of course Declan saw Frozen and said “Elsa Mama!” The barber laughed and we settled on Toy Story 3. Clearly Frozen was too girly for the manly barbershop.

As we sat and waited I took in our surroundings. American flag. Normal. Sign saying “Here we say Merry Christmas, we stand for the Anthem, etc.” and then I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. We were not on safe ground.

Americana and patriotic stuff is fine. Right winged signs about being Christian with no understanding of white privilege and the whole kneeling for Anthem situation…yeah I was guessing lesbians wouldn’t be welcomed.

It was my wife’s birthday. She wasn’t there with us though. She was working.

The boys are super empathic. I was trying to act normal but looking back I realize I was being more talkative and overly friendly. Sharing that I am a nurse.

I like to win people over before my boys start talking about their two mom’s. The barber was an EMT married to a nurse. Score. Then the birthday was mentioned. My boys were super excited to celebrate my wife’s birthday that night.

They talked all about Mommy’s birthday. The barber’s both said “Happy Birthday” to me. Because that’s what cis-het-males do. They assume every one is like them.

I didn’t correct them. And though I know the boys understood everything. For the first time in their little lives they didn’t correct them either. They just listened as I was wished Happy Birthday. They always correct people.

“She not Mommy. She Mama!” is a phrase I hear daily. “We have TWO Mommy’s” is another one.

But they didn’t this time. Writing this I have tears brimming in my eyes.

I didn’t feel anything at the time except anxiety. Fear. But I had a smile plastered on my face and was chatting. I never chat. Declan looked at me when I said “Thanks” to them as they wished me a Happy Birthday. But for once in their three and a half years of talk talk talk they did not correct them.

The barbers brought up the birthday at least three times. Each time acting as though it were mine. I never corrected them and neither did the boys.

They are too young to have an actual discussion about what happened in there. They were both just proud of themselves for sitting still and not crying. But they knew.

Somewhere in their little brains they knew. Mama is scared and we are not going to talk about Mommy.

I will never know if the barber’s are supporters of #45. I will never know if they are accepting of two mom families. I likely won’t go back even though they treated the boys wonderfully.

I should have been excited and happy to be getting their hair cut for the first time. But I was scared. I felt distinctly unwelcome and that I had to hide who my family is in order to remain safe.

I may have been wrong. But when I walked to my car there was a truck with a confederate flag hanging off the sides.

A liberal left swinging person may have noticed the signs hanging on the walls. They may have thought a quick thought about not discussing politics. But if they were heterosexual/cisgender/white that’s likely all that would have gone through their head.

For a minority woman who is not heterosexual every worst case scenario went through my head. From simply being kicked out to being harassed or assaulted.

I felt the instinct to befriend them so that if the boys did let on that we were a two mom family they might like me by that point and not be too harsh. My kids, for possibly the first time, noticed that I was distinctly uncomfortable. And didn’t discuss Mommy at all.

This is not the future I want for them. Yet in our current climate this is my family’s reality. Check your privilege. Because you have it if you are cis and heterosexual.

And if you own a business…I’m cool with the whole Republican dogma being your political system.

I’m not cool with homophobia and intolerance. So maybe throw up an equality sticker next to your American flag so I can relax. And so my children can know their Mama is relaxed. That this place is safe. That we can be ourselves here. Because to feel distinctly unsafe…that is called walking in the shoes of a minority in a country where we are devalued and discriminated against on the regular.

Twin Three Year Olds, Two Moms, and One Dentist

My wife had to work. So it was up to me to manhandle the boys at their cleanings by myself. It started out okay. Declan was very compliant laying on top of me and while nervous at times with all the poking and prodding he basically did a good job. Jackson sat calmly, occasionally saying “I not get my teeth cleaned Mama!” clearly disgruntled about having to go next.

He clung to a stuffed dinosaur and oversized toothbrush and would clean the dinosaur at times.

Then we switched. Declan cannot handle the freedom of an open room with shiny appliances and Jackson cannot handle anxiety.

I turned on my phone and played Netflix for him. Declan cried that I hadn’t played it for him and in his attempt to watch stood on the chair behind me. I did not see this otherwise I would have told him to get down.

Well he got down on his own. Loudly crashing to the floor and our dental hygienist was not amused. Neither was I. Nor Declan. He’s sobbing. I still have Jackson on top of me calmly waiting for the cleaning to finish. Finally calm while Declan’s screaming.

Declan was then instructed to sit and not move from the chair. He didn’t technically. But his feet were swinging as he tried to get the wires. I mean just picture the worst mess you possibly can imagine in a dental hygienists space. That’s what was happening in that moment. I was trapped under Jackson and our perky dental hygienist was trying her best to stay perky.

When the dentist came to check them she mentioned something about Declan’s teeth. When she walked away I wanted to clarify, and the hygienist asked me, not terribly nicely, “Um who are you?”

Excuse me? “I’m their Mom…” I said puzzled. I mean what other human being on the planet would subject themselves to a dentist visit with twin toddlers? I’d have to be related to them.

“Well they keep talking about telling Mommy, so I’m just confused,” she said.

“There are two Moms,” I replied. At this point I was perhaps glaring at her, because I was annoyed at this entire line of questioning. And our two normal hygienists know me and know my wife and know the boys. So I know that it wasn’t her fault that she didn’t know we were a two mom family.

But once I said that, “There are two Moms,” there was an awkward silence and she didn’t apologize. She did the lip pursing thing that I am familiar with. It’s the “Oh shit it’s one of them,” looks.

I suddenly wanted to be out of that chair. Fast.

Some people reading this will immediately think I’m overreacting. You’ll think, well maybe she just didn’t know how to react.

I’m not. And she didn’t know how to react true. But she didn’t react the way accepting non-homophobic people react. There would normally be an awkward laugh, and then, “Oh okay I’m so sorry, they just kept talking about their other Mommy, so I was confused,” or something similar. It’s happened before. Several times.

It’s also happened this way. Where some one makes it known. With an upturn of their eyes and a downturn of their mouth and no smiling or awkwardness. Just understanding of what I am and not liking it.

It seems fitting that during Pride month the dentist office I’ve gone to for the last nine years and never felt a smidge of homophobia should suddenly become a place that may not be okay for us.

This is one of those things that lesbian moms deal with. Do we just not go back at all? The boys really liked her, do I swallow it down and bring them back to her because they really liked her and she had a nice way with them? Do I call and say something? Do I let it slide because it’s once every six months we go there? It wasn’t overt so what would I even say if I called…”She made a face and didn’t smile about me having a wife”?

That last paragraph is the crux of what makes being a lesbian mom different. It’s why I feel best in my facebook group Lesbian Moms. It’s why I feel safest in a room full of gay.

It’s the decisions we have to make and the questions we have to answer that heterosexual people don’t have any clue about. It’s why we get a month. Not just a day. Because what terrifies me the most is the thought of the boys older, wiser, and aware of the lip pursing look. The look that says I’m not down with what you are.

When will the first time they notice it be? Who will it be? What do I want them to see me do? I am setting the example for them and I don’t want to let things slide but I don’t want to make a situation worse for them. No one told me about these decisions before I had kids. I’m undecided currently. I’ll keep you posted.