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Lily

Explaining Non-Binary to my Daughter

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Lily

I had a very challenging conversation with my daughter yesterday. I decided it was time to tell her that I'm changing my name to Lily. She said, "Isn't that kind of a girl's name. Oh yeah... you're into girl stuff." Now she's only 5, so it's quite a challenge to correct her. I almost didn't bother, but I decided it was important to explain it to her. I want to be understood as someone who might have traits resembling male or female but is something else entirely. I used child-friendly analogies, and she says she gets it, but I sense that she may not. During the conversation, she asked, "Why are you not a boy or a girl?" Something about that was heartbreaking; maybe because I'm just in a dark place right now. I told her, "If boys are dogs and girls are cats, I was born a fox. I have fluffy fur like a cat but I can bite like a dog, but that doesn't mean I'm either." And such similar examples. Is there a resource somewhere like "Kermit the frog meets a non-binary?" Lol. Maybe even besides a resource, I'm looking for someone who may have had to go through the same thing with their child. Thank you in advance.

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VickySGV

At her age, the best thing you can do is to NOT try too hard.  Other people she relates to will steer her into the binary concept because they do not understand it and are afraid of it.  There are a couple of children's books available that you could get and read to her, and help her to learn to read them by herself.  One book I would recommend is Red, A Crayon's Story which simply gets the idea of diversity and problems of labeling put in a way young people can understand.  Do not over-talk about it with her or she will pick up on "something is wrong" and she will start to fear it.  She is safe and has you as a loving parent who will provide for her and who will support and accept her unconditionally.  "Let's go get some ice cream" will mean more to her than a lot of stories and analogies you will think of.  I am about 70% binary female, and the other 30% is spread over several other possibilities and my grand children actually see where other people who would insist they are 100% binary are really NOT that way.  Slow, easy, just life with a bunch of hugs and she will be fine on her own.  It is going to be other adults who are the problem, and they are you and her other parent's problem, not hers.

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Kirsten

I have not had to go through this yet, but I have at least some advice that’s come from both my therapist and my sons as well. 

I have 3&12 year old sons. And I was ready to tell the older one a couple weeks back. So I talked to my therapist. Her first thought was why. Why tell either of them. They aren’t really old enough to understand the conversation which you kind of see too. Even the 12 year old. He would kind of understand the premise of transgender sure, but how would it help him to know?

So what we eventually came to was it’s best to be open with kids. Not lie to them. And slowly show who you are. When THEY ask you then you tell them. But only what they ask about. I kept saying no that’s wrong until my sons therapist told us why it’s not a good idea. Who will your kids talk to about it? Their friends their teachers. The neighborhood kids. Etc....And that creates more issues. More people that you may have to explain things too. Chances that other kids parents will not understand and keep their kids away from yours. And so many other things. 

I know how you feel though with the wanting them to know. I am sick of lying to everyone in my life about who I am. Especially my older son. But it’s important to think about them too. Ultimately it’s your decision. And I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide. 

Kirsten

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Kirsten

Oh and I have a great book that’s age appropriate. It’s called Rory’s Rainbow. It’s about a dinosaur in a toy store that likes the girls stuff. It’s very cute and tells a bit of the story. You can find it on amazon. 

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Guest Rachel Gia

I sense the children and young people of today are far more accepting of the gender spectrum than before.

As far as telling my kids , I told them that I was transgender and that the only thing is different is that they know more about me than they did before.

Their acceptance of who I was , turned out more than I imagined and in some ways they were more accepting of me than I was. Telling them I was going to transition was another hurdle but not a big one and their love helped me to do so.

As was mentioned, spending time with them is more important than whether you button your shirts and sweaters on the other side.

Rachel

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Jani

Great post Rachel!

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Lily

Thanks. That all makes sense and gives me something to think about. I guess with her response to me, I felt concerned that she was going to misunderstand me and that's how she was going to start building her understanding moving forward. You're right though; she probably doesn't really care. She had some thoughtful questions that surprised me.

 

As suggested, I think I'll not make it a habit of drawing attention to it, then if she comes to me with the topic I'll give her some answers.

 

I'm going to make a note of those books. :) It's tough to figure out how you want to be understood by each group of people in your life, and even tougher trying to extend that understanding.

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      Prescript: I just have to type something. Another sleepless night filled with anxiety. I've been so happy to find this site. I wanted to make some coherent, Earth shattering debut... But I'm a mess. You're here. You're what I have. Thank you, and away we go.   Where to start? Too late for that. How to catch up? Maybe. Anyways, here's my thing... I know my gender identity is becoming a bigger issue in my life, every day. I'm trying to find a way to bring understanding and support in to my life. Long short of it, ideally I'm looking for a facility in Canada that can help me out. I'm not sure what kind of resources are available that can help me find my inner voice and conquer the addictions/ psychological aspects. All advice is appreciated. I know it's going to be a long-term journey. I'm ready for the work. Just, how do I start? What piece of the crap pile do I start working on first?  I feel like "I just want to be normal", but it sometimes feels easier riding the wreck currently in progress. However, I want to be a real person again. Whatever that is. I want to have friends and do things. I want to not be in the outside watching the happy people go by. "I want to go home" so to speak. Even though, I've never really had a home or place I felt safe in. But it's a nice thought. One day.   You see I wasn't raised with any freedom to be different. On the contrary there has been a lot of work done on me to suppress and deny my identity for the ease of those around me. Not to dwell on the trauma, but for an idea of what I was put though, things like kneeling on rocks in a hidden room under the stairs with no lights to learn that "ADD is just in my head", or "Youth Groups" at church that focused on "shaming the gay" out of us were common in my life.  Honestly, I ate it up. Mostly because of the biggest catalyst to this cause, my mother and her favorite saying, "You'll never understand a mother's love. I could love you through anything... AS LONG AS YOU'RE NOT GAY." Well poop. I didn't want to lose my mother's love, so from an early age I became a master of macho and over compensation. Me gay? No. NO. I LIKE BOOBS. Ya, and trucks and guns, etc. You know the jig. Copy, paste, repeat, here I am on the edge of tomorrow and the mask doesn't fit anymore.  It's just so bloody hard to stop the knee jerk reaction of "being the man" and putting the mask back on. I've buried over my feminine instincts, beaten them down, beaten myself down and when that wasn't good enough, I've given the world at large a pliable floor mat to trod on. It's driving me bonkers. I'm sorry but I've carried a lot of pain and frustration making straight people feel comfortable. What about my comfort? When will, "You're so gay!" not sound like, "I found one, get him!" Will I ever stop feeling like God hates me because I was to weak to stay straight? If this is going to disqualify me from Heaven then why should I care about any law or rule? By my nature, beyond my control, if I'm so repulsive to everyone else, what am I supposed to do all alone? It's nice to wax poetic and romanticize about living cottage life single, but every day, for the rest of my life??? Where can I go that a six foot five, two hundred and thirty pound chunk of mountain man can go around wearing a nice sundress and do a little spin because in his heart he's just a little girl? I have no one to "just be me with". Or even find out who that is.  The last thing my mom said to me was, "Well if you're gonna be gay then just go find a man and love him." The common theme in all our confrontations is "go". No matter what the fight has been over the years, "go" has been the underlying message. I never heard it until recently. I never heard the silent, "and don't come back." Once was all it took. Now, it all makes sense. It broke my heart and stole the wind from my sails. At least "faking it for Mom" gave me a cause. Now, what can I make of what's survived. I wish it were that easy. Sounds simple, "Just go find a man and love him." LoL I wish she knew there is more than "Straight and Gay". I mean, like, what do I do on the days that I feel like a woman who likes women that have man parts too?  I'm assuming you can relate to the rabbit holes of thought that can arise here. Bottom line, I don't have to fake it for Mom anymore. She just plain don't want me in her life if I'm going to be me. I don't care what she thinks anymore, or anyone else for that matter. Or, maybe I still care but I'm ready to carry the pain and go forward. Regardless, as soon as I meet any one new, I'm well down the road of lies and cover stories, trying to present the "just a normal guy" routine before I even notice.  Sometimes it's not from lack of desire to be myself. Often it's just because it is so much work "being a normal queer". At home, I don't have to explain me to me. If I'm girly, I'm girly, if I'm macho, I'm macho. It's all a part of me.  So saying something like, "I'm gay" or "I'm transgender" feels as weird as saying I'm straight or binary. I'm just Claire (the name I chose for the "Her" in me.) If anyone took the time to get to know Claire or Claybourne (my given boy name) they'd know that my sexual identity is only a piece of me. Like how I'm a hiker, or a cook or like to knit. I don't run around saying, "I'm a hiker." I say, Hi, I'm Claybourne. If the conversation goes near the outdoors I might pop in, "I like hiking, I'm a hiker." Whether the other person likes hiking or not isn't a deal breaker to the conversation. Yet it seems like until someone knows your gender and sexual preference they reserve the right to consider your presence in their life. Why is the label such a thing? Why do people with static gender identities not understand how incredibly biased the world is for their benefit. Like, do straight people have to explain, "Well, I have a penis and only like sex in a vagina?" No. Why do I have to have a "briefing session" with everyone to explain concepts that aren't really that complex? Really, it's no one's business. But then, "Oh did you hear Claybourne came out?"  I think the whole coming out thing is a slap in the face to gender diversity. The fact that I had to declare to people, that the boy who was scared to go in to men's bathrooms, who watched more fashion television than a Trekkie binge watching Deep Space Nine on Netflix, who tucked his penis and sat to pee, who was an entirely flamboyant individual HAS GENDER IDENTITY ISSUES. Like, these people obviously knew. They saw in me things they did not like, they literally forced me to be different than my nature and now they want me to walk back in to their lives with a giant sign out for their convenience.  Argh, okay, by now if you're still reading you can see the layers and layers of stuff I have to go through. This whole new movement of freedom for people like me has me feeling I might have a chance. I see queer kids younger than me that have family and friends. I'm jealous. I was taught that we were going to burn in hell and that the mission was to exterminate the deviation known as queer. Here I am, hiding in the middle of no where, trying to limit the offence of my presence on my local world while I see so many queer people with so much in their life. I see queer people on TV crying about how hard their transition is, yet they're holding their mothers hand and their friends are saying spring things.  Did any of them have to serve their captors supper after climbing out of their shame boxes? Why did people I love do this to me? Why did they teach me I'm bad? So I'm done hiding. I came out.  Now it's just me.  Normally I have a never failing positive attitude. Since learning that my mom would rather I just stay gone, my bottom fell out. I always thought there was a reason for me hiding for her. I thought that if I made it easy on her at some point she'd get me back. Like, I could come home and have a family again.  It's not going to happen like that. She chose her man. She loves him. He hates queers. So ya.  I'm not sure what I'm really trying to say here.  Mostly it's another lonely sleepless night here in the middle of nowhere. I know things need to change because I think I'm just waiting to die now. Not that I'm suicidal. I just can't start the circle of faking it again and I have no resources to make a new start. I wanted to be a singer and a dancer. Or a fashion designer or a chef. I ended up doing hard labor jobs like working on oil rigs, digging trenches and making cellphone towers. I've lived on the streets or conditions that would be classified as homeless often. My body is beaten and my Soul is low. I used so much of my being trying to make a man my mother could accept. Between time left and body capabilities, what could I really do? Reading back I see the biggest thing I need are people and a place that I can feel safe as a gender confused person. Living in the middle of an oil patch, in the heart of Redneck Alberta, Canada is not a queer friendly place. The local counselors look at me like I'm the jackpot of cases. That say things like, "you'll be my first transgender client. I've been doing lots of reading and hope I can help." It's like some kind of badge on their resume. Five minutes in to a session I'm consulting them in the small but mysterious bits of queer culture I do have. Like, really? Is there any where I can go that has a history of working with gender issues? Yes, I have addictions issues too. I just feel I've fought the symptom long enough. I need to address the core.  Any help? Please. By the way, this was supposed to be an introduction post, so "Hi. I'm Claire" and Claybourne. I guess. This is my start.  See you soon. 😘
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